SocialErasmus is an international project managed by Erasmus Student Network. It promotes positive social attitude and awareness about 8 SocialErasmus causes: animals, disasters, discrimination, education, environment, health, poverty, violence. This project shows that student mobility is not only about travelling or studying abroad but also about engaging in the new community, learning and understanding other cultures and inspiring students to be active and participate in their local community. The project is like a bridge between exchange students and their new local community.

However don’t be mistaken that these events can be organised only during SocialErasmus week. The project is active throughout the year and during SocialErasmus week it is being promoted most actively. Events can be made at any time during the year and we are always open to students’ ideas and suggestions for SocialErasmus events.

During this week ESN Riga organised three wonderful events: charity bake sale, visit to animal shelter and Lāčplēša Day.

As we had planned a visit to animal shelter we wanted to give them something more than only our time to walk the dogs. Therefore few days before the visit we organised a charity bake sale. ESN Riga volunteers and exchange students prepared various baked good that were given out at University of Latvia in exchange for a donation. We were very happy about the interest of students and the turnout. Altogether we gathered 100,54 euros that were given to the shelter during our visit. The animal shelter are always working hard to help and provide everything that animals need. Winter is especially harsh season. All donations go towards food and inventory that is needed to keep animals warm and cosy during winter.

Lāčplēsis Day, 11th of November, is a landmark date for the Latvian Freedom Fighters. On this day in 1919 the defenders of Riga defeated the pro-German Voluntary Western Russia army, often called the Army of Bermont. The day of victory is celebrated as the Bear Slayer day (in Latvian - Lāčplēša diena), because of the new military award the Order of the Bear Slayer which was established to honor the soldiers. The name of the order comes from our 19th century heroic epic “Lāčplēsis” (Bear Slayer), written by Andrejs Pumpurs. Lāčplēsis (Bear Slayer) had the ears and strength of a bear and became a symbol of heroism and devotion to the Latvian state.On 11 November every year Latvia lights up numerous candles to commemorate this past event and Freedom Fighters.

We invited our students to join us at Brothers’ Cemetery to learn about this historic event and to light the candles, followed by torchlight march to the Monument of Freedom for the moment of silence and concert dedicated to the soldiers.

We were happy to see an increased interest in SocialErasmus events compared to other years and we are hoping to see this positive interest during the spring semester’s SocialErasmus week. We say big thank you to all students who participated in our events!