Being part of the LGBTQIA+ community while on Erasmus may sound like a tricky combination, but thankfully the volunteers from ESN have found ways to make each international student feel safe and respected in such a multicultural and diverse atmosphere. One of these good examples comes from the ESN sections in Prague and ESN CZ that organise and support the initiative “Erasmus in All Colours”.
The event is nothing new for the ESN volunteers from Prague: it is, in fact, a tradition already - with 6 previous editions. The most recent one happened at the beginning of March 2023 and gathered more than 100 participants - both local and international students united in their willingness to learn more about LGBTQIA+ topics and the current situation in the Czech Republic regarding people from this community. “Erasmus in All Colours” has a special place in the event calendar of the local volunteers. There is even more potential for it to become a more prominent and recognisable initiative promoting the awareness and empowerment of the LGBTQIA+ community. So far, it is a one-day event that includes presentations, workshops, a discussion forum, as well as icebreaker games, a drag show and an afterparty. In other words, it is indeed an event that celebrates diversity by teaching you new things and providing you with a safe environment to feel and express yourself.
What makes the event very diverse in content as well, is the collaboration between the ESN sections in Prague with LGBTQIA+ student clubs (from Charles University for example) that enrich the agenda and give more insight to the whole event. What’s more, the moderators and facilitators are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, eager to answer the questions of the participants and help them shape what this community stands for and how it improves diversity in our society.
Some of the ESN volunteers shared that the biggest achievement after the last event was that the Erasmus students themselves took the initiative. They created an informal WhatsApp chat for LGBTQIA+ people where they exchanged recommendations, ideas and good practices, they started going together to drag shows and other events in the city and in general they found a safe space.
The feedback from the event has been positive, which encourages the ESN members to keep up the good work and think about how to make it even better. They told us that even though it may be tiring to organise and coordinate such an event, in the end, the result is rewarding and they see the positive change in thinking among their peers and communities.
“Being international is being diverse!”
It is very rewarding to see that the event “Erasmus in All Colours” was a great success and even other sections from ESN CZ have reached out to get some tips on how to organise similar events on the topic. The most rewarding part of it is that not only the international students but also the volunteers are more educated on LGBTQIA+ topics and more tolerant in their daily lives. Sharing experiences from locals and people coping with similar issues helps others in the community feel understood and free to speak.
We hope that ESN UCT Prague will keep up with creating space for this initiative and inspire more people to do so!