Tuesday 31-05-2016 - 15:54
In an increasingly globalised world, where networks and friendships cross continents, activism knows no borders, and experiences - as well as struggles - are increasingly shared, it seemed timely that the European Students’ Union (ESU) became truly global in our partnerships.
And so the global student voice seminar at the beginning of May was the culmination of a years’ work of ESU’s internal international cooperation working group (ICWG)- who had been tasked with beginning the process of exploring the opportunities and possibilities for increased cooperation with other student movements globally.
The first part of the seminar bought together representatives from all corners of the world with some of the members of the ICWG, to articulate our individual experiences, develop an understanding of our shared issues, and through that, a collective vision for the future.
Through an incredibly powerful process of facilitated sessions and discussions, we were able to identify our individual issues and national struggles and therefore connect our collective issues. Whilst our experiences ranged in their nature- from students arrested for simply exercising their right to protest, or individuals denied the very right to access education, to an education system not reflective of the society within which it exists, there were common themes running through all of our stories.
This allowed us to develop a set of values and fundamental rights / principles we believe education should be based on, which were then classified into categories which formed the framework for the writing of our declaration.
Our declaration gives a collective voice to the demands of students globally- that education is a public good, and so all students have the right to access it, with fundamental rights regarding their ability to organise and be represented within it, and that our education system cannot be separated from the society within which it exists.
You can read the full declaration here.
What became clear through our discussions and collaboration over the course of the weekend, is that the world is becoming an increasingly uncertain place, but where students can and must be at the forefront of developing shared solutions to our shared global issues.
And so as we came together with the rest of the ESU board for the remainder of the seminar, we were keen to continue the process of collaborated sharing and developing of a collective narrative – achieved through a series of workshops, panel discussions and member led sessions.
The sense of hope and optimism that was built through this process was really powerful – it truly felt like students were uniting in the face of adversity and carving out their vision for the role a global student movement can play in overcoming our collective struggles and creating a better world.
The weekend ended with us presenting the declaration to the ESU board, who then voted to become the first student organisation to formally endorse it.
The beauty of the work we began in Bergen is that this declaration is just the start of something bigger.
We know we’re more powerful when we’re united, and even more so when our collectivism and collaboration stretches beyond regional boundaries.
And so this document will serve as the beginning of a long term process, bringing together students from around the world to cooperate to defend the principles laid out in the declaration – whether through formal or informal structures, or simply cooperation and communication.
The beginning of the coming together of a truly global student movement.