Board Talks: President & VP/Secretary

R: I am Rolland, and I am from Tanzania and I am this year’s president of ESN.

T: I am Tamarah, this year’s vice president and secretary.

 Our favorite thing about our board year:

 R: For me the nicest thing about ESN is the international community, which makes me feel very welcome and at home. I just love being in a very inclusive and diverse environment.

T: I completely agree with what you just said. I am Dutch and the international vibe that ESN can give me is so nice. But more specifically, I think the nicest thing for me about this year has been the contact with students. As secretary you are in contact with students through the buddy program and you receive most of the incoming emails. It makes me really happy to see students getting settled in and meeting new friends through the community that we have created.

R: Imagine such an international ‘bubble’ not just for university though, but for the whole world. It just has such a positive impact on society.

T: Definitely. I think being with a lot of people from different backgrounds and learning about other places in the world just really opens people’s minds.

Best experience as a board member:

R: I think the collaboration we had within the board. Working as a team and being able to pull of cool projects is just really satisfying. Also, any time we have an event, and we get to have fun with all the people we meet. What is life if it’s not fun?

T: To add to that, collaborating with other associations on campus has also added to the whole experience. You can learn so much from each other. It was something that I didn’t expect when I applied myself. That also goes for the contact we have with other sections from ESN The Netherlands. You meet them at least three times a year during the National Platforms that are organized. I think it is so beneficial to get to share your experiences and receive advice from organizations that are basically doing the same thing as you in other Dutch cities.

Our challenges:

T: I think I needed to develop a specific mindset for the work I do. As secretary you do not see results of the effort you put in like you see it for a marketing or events manager for instance, because the work you do is more internal and thus ‘behind the scenes.’ At some point I realized that if our team is running efficiently, all the incoming correspondence is directed towards the right board member and there are hardly any moments of miscommunication, that means I am doing my job right. That is really motivating.

R: At the beginning of the year, we set certain goals for ourselves and ESN Rotterdam and my biggest challenge was making sure we kept these goals in mind with everything we did. For each event or project, we planned I would assess whether it would add to the organization in the way that we wanted it to. You cannot just write down your goals and then just continue with life. You need certain moments to reflect and perfect.

 T: Generally, I think it may feel like you are sort of thrown in the deep when you start. We just needed to rely on our skills and be confident in our abilities.

What did we learn:

 R: Through this intense teamwork, I learned to be more understanding. Sometimes the way I would handle certain situations is just not in someone’s nature, because they might handle these situations very differently. At first I might have thought: ‘why are they giving up? Why not just do it and figure it out when you actually get to that part?’ Instead, now I try to place myself in their shoes and look at the situation from their perspective.

T: I think that is such an important part of being president, having the ability to recognize someone’s struggles or moments when someone is feeling demotivated and then knowing how to get them going again. What I learned is what most people probably expect to take away from a board year, which is to experience the behind the scenes of an organization and thus develop yourself more professionally. Obviously, a board year is serious work, but is really nice to get to learn all that I learned in such a chill environment and to do this together with fellow students.

About our committees:

R: Who gets what committee is different every year, but I supervise the cultural committee this year. I really love the concept of culture in general. It is one of my passions: movies, books, travelling and so on. The cultural committee has a lot of things happening and before the start of our board year I already had a lot of ideas for future events which would be great to add.

T: For me it made a lot of sense to do the active members committee. I remember as a committee member how nice it was to have events specifically for all the active members. It strengthens the community feeling within the organization and allows us to give back to all the students who help us run ESN Rotterdam. Moreover, as secretary a lot of the work I do is more internal so to say, so taking care of our community fits perfectly.

R: Supervising the committees is also just a great experience. Obviously, we are responsible for them, but a lot of the work gets done by our active members before you even know it. It all just happens automatically.

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