The first ESN local association in France was founded in 1998, 11 years after the creation of the European Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students program and 9 years after the birth of the Erasmus Student Network. Coming back from their exchange programs, some international students from “L’école des Mines” decided to create the International Ecole des Mines d’Alene Association (AIMA). In 2001, ESN international has its first official contact person in France: Benoit Boldron, elected as the National Representative and followed by Sebastian Mackay in 2002.
In 2003, a very important year for the association, the first Constitutive General Assembly of ESN France was held on the occasion of the first National Platform organized in April in Alès. Five sections (of which 3 were from Toulouse) were presented and participated in this foundation: ESN-Alès (AIMA), ESN-Nancy (Pi-Nancy), ESN-Toulouse (ASER), ESN-Toulouse2 (the Mirail), ESN-Toulouse4 (XENOS). In the context of democratization of the Erasmus program, ESN-Strasbourg (IECS), ESN-Toulouse3 (APIEE), and then ESN Nantes (Autour du Monde) have since joined the network. Since that, the association has kept evolving and decided to organize its first annual event: the SEP (Southern Platform) in 2004. The peculiarity of this event is that it takes place in Marrakech!
In 2005, ESN France was elected to organize the most important event of the network: The Annual General Meeting in Paris. Because of some internal problem, the organizing committee had to withdraw. Since that, ESN France has experienced a slowdown of the important activities, generating the dissolution of the association which was reuniting eight local associations.
In 2007, during the AGM Prague, ESN Besançon presented its candidature to the biggest international event in French territory until now: the AGM. In March 2008, during the AGM in Besaçon, the event led this association as well as ESN Nancy to become allied to create a new ESN France (which will be filed with the prefecture the same year). The first General Constitutive Assembly in Bruxelles was held the year after. 2008 will bring a new life to the French network, which will experience the development of its projects and the constant growth of the joined association. In 2010 the French sections are 19. ESN France gives them the role of coordinating and animating the network by setting up National Platforms reaching more than 80 people, a record number of participants.
2012 was an important year as many events and projects took place that year. ESN France asserts its role in international mobility next to institutional partners and coworking with the national agent 2e2f (current national agent Erasmus+ Education & Formations) and many French universities. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the program, ESN France organized its own “Tour de France Erasmus” in February 2012. During 21 days, many network members passed by 25 french cities to promote mobility within local students. This event has also been carried on a national level through the redaction of a document called “Erasmus Passport” reviewing the different dispositions. On the governance side, the system was revised and reinforced by setting up an Administrative Council elected by the local associations on the occasion of the General Assembly.
2013 represented an international year since three associations organized many networks events: National Board Meeting in Dijon, French German Section Meeting in Strasbourg, and the Western European Platform in Nancy. Another highlight: Cédric Klapisch, director of the famous Erasmus reference movie The Spanish Inn, has been named patron of the association. This collaboration that’s coming back to life since he had the honor and the pleasure to accompany the French delegation to the AGM Helsinki in 2004.
The network, after its recreation, develops itself exponentially on a local and national scale. The national office chooses to recruit its first paid employee to provide a more structured evolution of its projects and to improve the network’s engagement. In 2014, ESN France hosts its General Delegate, Antoine Mathieu, in the Animafac premises in Paris. This was followed by the recruitment of two civic services teams. In addition to that, ESN France is committed to the involvement of its network members. For local associations to contribute even more to national projects, committees are being set up. Attached to each member of the board, except for the secretary who will report to the Training Committee in April 2016, the six national committees are open to all network members. The support of associations is also perfected by the design of numerous digital tools, guides, and practical sheets as well as the development of training.
The year after is a special one for multiple reasons. As an association that promotes international mobility, ESN France carries out the Tickets pour le Monde communication campaign to raise awareness among young French people of the different mechanisms for carrying out an international exchange. The Buddysystem, a web platform for sponsorship between French and international youth, is another project that has evolved. New recruitments are made: Elodie Dacourt, an administrative officer, is recruited on a quarter-time basis (her position is shared with the national network Animafac); Sarah Holveck also joins the team as project coordinator and tutor of three civic services. A little later, in 2017, Jean Russo becomes the general delegate of the association, and thanks to a European project, a new position of a digital project manager is created, to lead the technical development of the BuddySystem. New reflections are carried out concerning territorialization to create regional dynamics.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus program, ESN France, in partnership with the Erasmus+ France Agency, is organizing a tour of France in a minibus, called Erasbus (driven by volunteers from the association): at each of the 20 stops along the route, events to raise awareness of international mobility are offered for all audiences. This 45-day adventure ends in October 2017 in Amiens, where a conference and a national platform are organized.
To be continued…