Did you know that you can volunteer being as an Erasmus Student in a foreign country?

Author: Zane Boreiko

We all know what it is Erasmus programme, but do we know how many opportunities Erasmus programme offers to Erasmus students apart from just studying in foreign country for a year or semester? This article is about Erasmus students in Riga who alongside their academic studies at University also find time to make positive contribution towards community they live in by Volunteering…

Erasmus Student Network is a non-profit international student organisation. Our mission is to represent international students, and thus provide opportunities for cultural understanding and self-development under the principle of Students Helping Students. Also Erasmus Student Network is running international projects and one of them is Social Erasmus!  What is Social Erasmus all about?

Social Erasmus is an Erasmus Student Network international project which was created in 2008 in Poland. The project gives international students the opportunity to do charity work in the local community as well as getting to know a new culture and system of education.  For the first time on March 29, 2011 in Riga the first “European lesson” in frames of Social Erasmus project was held. For the first time in Riga, Erasmus students had a chance to become volunteers!

The “European lesson” is based on voluntary participation. The objective of “European lesson” is to familiarize the participants with Europe and European people, their traditions and customs existing as well as to overcome stereotypes. “European lesson” is an opportunity for international students to get into contact with local society and promote their homelands. On the other hand, the “European lesson” gives children the first
opportunity of direct contact with other cultures.

The first “European lesson” took place at Agenskalna State Gymnasium, in Riga, one of the oldest schools in Latvia. In frames of Social Erasmus project nine Erasmus students from Hungary, Germany, Poland, South Korea and Venezuela were holding the “European lesson” on their chosen topic.  The Erasmus students in Riga chose different topics for their “European lesson” including European Union and European studies, traditions, culture and architecture about their homeland. In fact, volunteers were also telling about their volunteering experience back at home and in other countries, travelling experiences, about Erasmus programme and why they had applied to take part in project Social Erasmus. Moreover, Erasmus students from South Korea and Germany even prepared their traditional food, so the children at school could taste it!

The Student Union of Agenskalna State Gymnasium was very well prepared for the “European lesson”, too. They took the Erasmus students on a tour around the school, introducing them into the history of the school. The “European lesson” in Riga was a great opportunity for Erasmus students not only to gain a volunteering experience but also, to get to know Latvian culture and the system of education, tell about their culture, traditions, promote their homelands, teach their language, make long-lasting friendships, broaden their views and perspectives and to get into contact with a local community.

The “European lesson” was very successful! The Erasmus students in Riga enjoyed it very much and were overwhelmed with positive emotions; they felt that they can make a positive change and that it is not that hard to make other people around them happy. It was a life time experience for them! Volunteering is perfect for tapping into the idealism and drive of young people, and gives them a real space for participating in community development. As a matter of fact, 2011 is the official European Year of Volunteering – a year-long campaign to celebrate the work of existing volunteers, address the challenges they face and encourage more people to get involved – amazing journey when good things happen. Social Erasmus is proud of Erasmus students in Riga – they are brave, open-minded, they do care about the local community – and they were a part of this amazing journey!

See what the volunteers say…


We appreciate this interesting opportunity to enjoy ourselves. We were very glad that children tasted our home-made sushi …..

Choi and Kim, South Korea


The event itself was also very nice. I also liked that we were sitting together after our lesson. I enjoyed it very much!!! I think you and your team did a really great job!!! Thanks

Daniel, Germany



I was so proud, when I saw, that students were interested in our country and culture. It was much better than I expected! They knew a lot of things about Hungary! I’m really happy that I applied for Social Erasmus.

Kitty, Hungary


When I heard about Social Erasmus I knew it’s a project I want to take part in. The idea is simple – you share your own culture with foreign pupils. In a creative way you can show them your country, traditions and teach them some basic phrases in your mother tongue etc.

Speaking honestly, I was a little bit afraid before my “European lesson”. I just didn’t know the group, so I felt a little bit uncertain about students’ reactions. It was a challenge! It was a great adventure, inspiring experience and joyful time! Thanks to “European lesson”, I not only met new people, but also get to know myself better.

Dorota, Poland



I loved these hours in that school! Everyone was so nice, and they were interested in our culture and country and wanted to know things about us. It was such a good feeling! We’d need more time to show everything what we had, but it was okay. They saw the video and that was the point. The posters which they made us about Hungary are already decorations in our room 🙂 Great!!

Bianka, Hungary


Social Erasmus Volunteers in Riga @ Agenskalna State Gymnasium

Reach Higher! Go Further! GO SOCIAL!


6 thoughts on “Did you know that you can volunteer being as an Erasmus Student in a foreign country?

      1. Hi Jahongir,

        As Kristina already said Erasmus programme is a student exchange programme. In frames of this programme different projects been developed so that students who spend their Erasmus in different country have opportunities of getting know the country they live in better and promote cultural understanding.

        Social Erasmus is one of these projects. This project gives opportunity for erasmus students to do a volunteering work within the community they live while being abroad:)Hope it helps!

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