In contrast to the constantly growing number of international students in Jena, especially from Erasmus+ partner countries (e.g. Russia, Ukraine and Georgia), the motivation for studying or working in Eastern Europe seems to rise quite slowly. Therefore, with support by the Erasmus Student and Alumni Association (ESAA) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) ESN Jena e.V. organized a mobility fair focusing on Eastern and South Eastern European countries at November, 23rd 2016.
In cooperation with the International Office of Jena University we set up two main goals: First of all, we wanted to awake student’s interest for Eastern European cultures. Secondly, we gained to offer concrete information about organizing their stay abroad. To do so, we wanted to build up different stands where people could inform themselves about countries, cultures and student mobility.
Due to the fact that the main campus of Jena University is a well-known and highly frequented place where lots of students pass by, we decided to situate our fair in the foyer nearby. Thus, we ensured to reach numerous students from different faculties.
In order to advertise our upcoming event in a recognizable way, we designed digital promotion material to spread our message on the university's homepage and in social networks like Facebook. In addition, we created a couple of posters in a corporate design which were placed in student restaurants and libraries as well as on free black boards. Last but not least we visited many faculties and institutes as well as several events to inform people about our upcoming mobility fair.
After booking our event location by the International Office in combination with a decent amount of tables and pin boards, we started collection country-specific information material: Namely we contacted 25 embassies in Berlin by mail and countless Eastern European related online platforms (e.g. studyinpoland.pl) by e-mail in order to request material. Beside printable online documents we could hardly use, we kindly received flyers, booklets, posters, pens, stickers; and even smartphone gloves (from Estonia). From Croatia we received three different series of colourful touristic books and literally tons of additional material. The University of Miskolc, Hungary, even send us two ESN members to present Hungary. Further, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Eurodesk supported us with printed material concerning internships and summer schools abroad. Although, we did not receive material from every representative or institution, we obtained a good amount of information material from several Eastern European countries.
Beside the International office we also offered other organizations and student associations the opportunity to present their activities at our fair. Namely AIESEC, IAESTE, the European Law Students Association and some more joined. We also invited Joachim Gauck, the current President of Germany, who would accidently visit Jena this day. Unfortunately, he could not afford any time for us during his stay.
Last but not least we asked predominantly international students from Eastern Europe to present their home universities and their national culture at our fair. For each country, represented by students, we provided a stand that they could decorate on their own: Hungary, Greece, Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Georgia were in. We engaged them to cook home-made food and reimbursed their expenses. Beside our collected information and decoration material we also supported them by offering a free printing service for their own posters and photos, if needed. For coordinating the student’s efforts, we set up two meetings beforehand which were visited well.
On November, 23rd we started building up the fair around 9:00 in the morning. Regarding the first student schedule break at 9:45, everything was done: All tables and pin boards stood at their places, were manned, nicely decorated and filled with a reasonable amount of information material and food. We also build up two additional tables: one for coffee and cookies as well as one for stuff which we could hardly assign to any other stand. Regarding our observations and the feedback we got during the day, our concept worked very well: Lots of people were attracted by food and came in touch with the representatives. People started talking with each other. An intercultural exchange was settled. In order to inform themselves about mobility aspects, they could approach the non-country-specific stands and of course tables by the International Office and ESN Jena. At the end of the day, around 4:00 p.m., most of our information material was taken away. Within one hour we dismantled the fair and cleaned everything.
Finally, Go East – The Jena Mobility Fair was a great success.