What happens when two Erasmus students from Spain, who are finishing their 9 months long exchange, decide they want to leave something behind before they leave? What if they think this skate park they like hanging out in could be nicer? What if they get their other friends, who are also on exchange, to join them? Magic is what happens!
With the help of Tatjana, their friend from Novi Sad, Anita, Luciá, Laura, Claudia, and Paula embarked on (what then seemed an impossible) mission of applying to get the fundings for the project two days before the applications closed. But if university teaches us anything, it’s how to do things in the last minute. And do them perfectly! Not only did their application get accepted, they passed the first round, and are now in the semi-finals!
We met with three of them this Saturday, after a very successful promotional party held the night before in the skate park, where they were joined by the entire Erasmus community of Novi Sad, ESNers, and local students, who were not discouraged by the rain and they stayed the whole night.
Anita, Luciá, and Paula
Source: ESN Serbia
How did you decide to paint the skate park?
Luciá: It was a random idea!
Anita: Yes, because Claudia and I were hanging out in the skate park, and we thought how the skate park is not really beautiful, it’s not really special, we should paint it! And then we said, yes! Let’s go, let’s do it! Then Tatjana saw a contest and we applied for it, and now here we are!
So what kind of contest is it?
Anita: It’s sponsored by Erste Bank and it’s for all of Serbia, right?
Luciá: Yes, for the whole country, and there are four other projects from Novi Sad.
Paula: And it’s for all kinds of projects.
Claudia and Tatjana after placing in the top 40
Source: Capture Culture
Is there only one winner? How does the selection process go?
Anita: Forty projects are in the semi-finals and in this stage, the people vote online.
Paula: And the top twenty projects go to the finals. There, a group of judges chooses the best ten, and they all share the prize, which is approximately 5000 euros per project. So if we are among the top 10, we can do it!
So now you are in the second round, the semi-finals. How are the votes counted?
Anita: It’s the votes on the page, likes on Facebook and Twitter followers that count. But votes on the page are the most important.
Paula: Yesterday we were the 23rd, but we need to be among the top 20. The problem is that the voting process is a bit difficult. I mean, it’s easy for you, because you are Serbian and the page is in Serbian. But when we were sending it to our friends and family in Spain, asking them to vote, they were like “What is this? What is happening? Something appeared on the screen, is it a virus??” [laughs]
But we made a gif and a video explaining the steps.
If you win, when do you plan to paint the park?
Luciá: In October, that’s when we get the prize. So we will come back from Spain for it.
And you can include the new Erasmus students!
Source: Capture Culture
In case you don’t win, do you still plan to go through with this idea?
Luciá: If we don’t win, we talked with Maksim (president of ESN Novi Sad), and he said that he’s really excited about the project and he said we will try to find another way to do this.
Paula: Yes, because we don’t want to stop, we really want this to happen.
When will you know the results?
Luciá: In the beginning of July, probably.
When does the voting finish?
Anita: It ends on Monday at noon.
Do you generally hang out at the park a lot?
Luciá: Lately, yes. But I think the new Erasmus students spend more time there than us.
Paula: Serbian people don’t like to go there, they prefer other places to hang out, so we are always alone there. So that’s why we want to bring more people there, bring life to the place.
In ESN, we always talk about how we want to integrate and include Erasmus students more in the local community, make them be a part of it and that’s why we have SocialErasmus, to give a chance to Erasmus students to contribute to the city they are staying in.
Paula: We feel like a part of this city. We created a life for ourselves here, we have friends, it’s a second home. I especially want to win only so I can have an even bigger reason to come back to Novi Sad. And for all of us to come back together, because it is very special for us because in this city we were living the spirit of Erasmus with everyone, so it’s better to come here again with even more people.
Anita: And if we win, it won’t be just the six of us painting the skate park, we want to include everyone in the city who wants to join.
Luciá: Yes, and there is a group of guys who are interested in doing some design for the park and they want to help us. And we talked with the skaters, and they have some ideas, what they want to have in the skate park. And it’s really nice, because there is a conversation with people, we share ideas.
It’s really great that you are not only doing this, but that you are also including the local people and like you said, that there is this conversation happening between what you want and what the people who will spend time there want. And of course, that you are leaving a mark in the city that you love.
Paula: Yes, the conclusion is that we love Novi Sad!
Luciá: And we don’t understand why people always ask us “Why here?”
Paula: I think that Serbian people don’t appreciate this city enough.
Luciá: I don’t know if it’s like that in the whole Serbia. But this city is amazing, it’s a small city, but it has everything you need. It has a lot of life. It’s a perfect city if you are a student and if you are young. I am glad I came here.
Source: Capture Culture
What started as a random idea, has now grown into a big project (symbolically called “Spark”) that could change the face of Novi Sad’s Chinatown, and give young people of Novi Sad a place to enjoy a more active life.
So far, the project gained support from the local ESN section, University of Alcalá, DAETSA (student organisation in University of Alcalá), as well as municipal administration of Morata de Tajuña, and OPENS - Novi Sad European Youth Capital 2019.
And if you are wondering how you can help, find the Capture Culture team on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, where you can find the instructions on how to vote for them on the contest’s official website.