Exceeded: a rare word when combined with “expectations.” Yet, “exceeded my expectations” is the only phrase I can attribute to last week’s European Students For Liberty leadership retreat. I did not imagine that I would meet such dedicated, well-informed, and ready-to-work individuals before the retreat. As I started to realize not only my new position as part of the ESFL leadership but also the creativity and dedication within this leadership, I felt more energized than ever before— so much so that I’ve been called a Duracell bunny!
European Students For Liberty (as a part of Students For Liberty) is a nonprofit organization by students and for students. We don’t promote one kind of libery, one “golden road.” We don’t believe the world to be black or white. We don’t support political candidates. But, what we do support is pro-liberty groups in Europe and the idea that every man and woman has the right to express one’s thoughts and the right to ownership for what one creates. This past year has been fantastic. We’ve expanded into 20 countries with over 90 groups. But there is a lot of work left. No university should be without a pro-liberty student group: A place where students can meet, discuss, and excel. Since our intermediate goal is that all students should know about ESFL, we exist to support and work with every pro-liberty student in Europe.
The retreat was our opportunity to get an overview of our resources, our goals, and to start up new projects. It gave us a chance to coordinate and build a team. This is easier said than done; The ESFL board consist of 14 members from ten countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden, Serbia, the US & UK). But this is what makes ESFL so exciting. We don’t let fictive or factual boarders stand in our way. We cherish both what brings us together, the belief that man has a right to live the life one wishes, and that which makes us different, our backgrounds.
We also had the opportunity while in Brussels to meet and talk with various think tanks, foundations, and other pro-liberty persons. I want to extend a thank you to the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation and New Direction who both offered us their conference facilities and indulged us in intriguing conversations. I further want to thank the Ludwig von Mises Institute for all our cooperation as well as the DCI group for hosting us one evening accompanied once again with interesting conversations. Connections to different think tanks and information about internships and travel scholarships is one of the great resources ESFL can offer pro-liberty students. There is a lot out there for interested and hard working young individuals.
The 2012 ESFLC Executive Board
Another valuable thought I took with me from this retreat is that ESFL doesn’t consist of a board. It’s all the students already affiliated with us, or that one day will be, which makes ESFL into what it is. The individuals out there who want to make a change, who believe in the empowered man and a reduced government, who stand ready to use our free books program, listen to webinars or start a student group at their university. Students For Liberty is not a top-down organization and will never be. And as the new Regional Director for Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, I find this essential. This brings me to one of the most exciting programs ESFL has to offer this year, the Campus Coordinator program. We will offer 20 dedicated persons from Europe an opportunity to learn more about communication, organization and how to become a reliable source for pro-liberty students. Look out for the launch!
I’m writing this from a snowy Stockholm. And even though spring this year means more snow, my heart feels light. As a wind of fright blows over Europe, made cold by government rundown economies and high unemployment, young people are once again starting to believe in the rights of the individual. Combined with this year’s dedicated and already hardworking ESFL team, I believe we will accomplish a lot. Pablo Picasso once said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” European Students For Liberty and all the people working with us has by implementing action unlocked the door and released what might be a wind of change.