In November, 2022, ATHENA established the ATHENA ESN (Erasmus Student Network) Board, the first ESN body among the European university alliances. ESN ATHENA is a federation of 8 ESN sections that include representatives from Hellenic Mediterranean University, Polytechnic Institute of Porto, University of Maribor, University of Siegen, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, University of Vigo, University of Orleans and Maria Curie-Skłodowska University. The main aim of the ESN is to increase internationalization and integration between students at ATHENA European University. ESN aligned with ATHENA has the potential of making the biggest student body ever existed.
The creation of the ESN ATHENA, the ESN sections’ collaboration, and the ATHENA Student Board’s integration into the activity were presented among the best practices to other ESN members across the alliance. In May, 2023, the local sections that form the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) ATHENA met at the Maria Curie- Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland, for signing the statutes and inaugurating ESN ATHENA. Presentations of the different local ESN sections marked the start of the three-day event. Each of the eight participating sections presented the organizational structure, their events and forms of student participation, as well as their marketing techniques, and visual approaches. George Psaltakis, president of ESN ATHENA and ESN Hellenic Mediterranean University, took the opportunity to present the potential of ESN ATHENA in the upcoming years. More than 25 participants from eight different countries then worked on the strategic planning of ESN ATHENA and came up with several ideas to enhance internationalisation and integration.
One of these ideas was the ATHENA buddy family, where groups of students can work on their own projects or product ideas and present it to a company afterward. Furthermore, the participants discussed ATHENA summer internship fairs, physical work fairs in each ATHENA university to promote summer internships on other ATHENA cities, physical fairs organised by ESN in each ATHENA university to promote summer internships in other ATHENA cities. These ideas were supported by the ATHENA Secretary General, Dr. Konstantinos Petridis and the municipality of the city of Lublin.
Moreover, multiple integration activities took place, from diving into the history of Lublin with a city game to exploring different cuisines in the form of an international breakfast. These activities helped the participants get to know each other better and cemented the strong bonds between ESN ATHENA and the local sections, not only on an organisational but also on a personal level. The main event of the meeting was the signing of statutes by all ESN sections in the virtual presence of Juan Rayón González, the ESN International President. Tine Delva, Deputy Head of Unit of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, participated virtually in the event to congratulate. Furthermore, European Commission representatives provided detailed explanations regarding career opportunities and trainee ships at the European Commission.