CEMSies Are Helping Where Needed. What Did They Do in their CSR in Practice 2023 Course?

Teaching Ukrainian youngsters English or Czech, entertaining pensioners, or cleaning up the surroundings of a Boy Scout clubroom – these are only some of the beneficial activities presented by CEMS students at the end of this year’s CSR in Practice course.

CSR In Practice

CSR in Practice is a compulsory course within the CEMS VSE curriculum focused on acquiring hands-on experiences in the field of social responsibility – students raise awareness in various areas of social responsibility by implementing their CRS in Practice projects.

This academic year, students engaged in projects covering sustainable and neighbourly living in Prague, planting trees, volunteer work in a nursing home for seniors and helping in a school daycare, working with Ukrainian children refugees or a personal development session with a Boy Scout unit in Zlín.

Namely, they were:

  • Team Care Service Volunteers – Julia Martinová, Tereza Rejchrtová, Aiman Al Masani
  • Team Tutor – Marek Běloch
  • Team Boy Scouts – David Červinka, Tomáš Radil
  • Team Trees – Ester Greksová, Jan Pipek, Simon Senčar, Filip Šajty
  • Team Prague Sustainable and Neighbourly – Juliet Destrade, Šimon Pánek, Lilou Vertongen

Volunteering for care service

Knowing that even a little deed goes a long way, the trio Julia Martinová, Aiman Al Masani and Tereza Rejchrtová first made their way to volunteer in a nursing home for seniors and, on another occasion, entertained children at a school daycare. They earned various takeaways, enhanced perspectives, and made an impact, mainly when it comes to community connections and social awareness and responsibility.

It made us step outside our social bubble and the business university environment and helped us gain some valuable perspective and insights,” they said after having spent some time entertaining residents at a nursing home for seniors run by Prague 3.

They’re doing an amazing job in the Care Service Center. The manager’s dedication and passion for his work are remarkable, despite the comparatively low compensation. Unfortunately, due to the limited capacity, not all pensioners can be accommodated there. We feel like there’s a great potential for expanding the facility or facilities,” agrees the team after the experience.


Some CEMSies volunteer regardless of their “CSR In Practice” course

Some CEMSies view giving back to society as a standard. “I’ve been tutoring foreigners at the Facility For Children of Foreign Nationals throughout the semester. I have some personal drivers, long history with working with children, and I was already tutoring at the institute back in 2016,” introduces his CSR activity Marek Běloch who studies 1st year of CEMS.

Marek is currently teaching a 15-year-old Ukrainian immigrant Lina. He has been preparing her for the school final exams she will be taking at the end of the year as she is officially enrolled in the Czech education system.

I’m finding it more difficult than I thought it would be. Patience is a big thing. And being prepared is a main aspect that I did not take into account because my previous student Ismail who had fled Syria in a barrel, was really proactive. So having a set plan for that day, especially as for the school materials, is a good thing to fall back on,” says Marek, who is now considering extending his work at the institute.


Giving back to people in your hometown

Marek’s classmate, David Červinka, has been visiting his high school every year lately to talk with the kids about studying in Prague or abroad. “Being from a small town, I am well aware of how important it is to educate the kids about thinking beyond their region, to navigate them to be able to think about their future as something real and not just a problem for their future selves,” explains David.

For the CSR In Practice course, David teamed up with Tomáš Radil, who has been engaged in similar activities in his hometown Zlín. “Primary education in small towns is just totally different. The kids there are not exposed to things like personal development, let alone thinking about opportunities beyond their region,” agrees Tomáš.

So they went to the Boy Scout unit where Tomáš used to be active and talked with the local youngsters about their future life opportunities. “We wanted to give the kids something we wished we had known regarding our possibilities back when we were their age. That is why we explained what value is created for them by studying abroad. And we also wanted them to grow personally and to realize who they are and where they could be in a few years, explains Tomáš.

On day one, the kids worked on ideas on how to improve the surrounding environment of their clubhouse, so we then walked the walk and went to clean up the river in Zlín,” adds David.


Saving the world by planting trees

Another team made by Jan Pipek, Simon Senčar, Filip Šajty and Ester Greksová jumped on the tree-planting activity bandwagon with Sázíme Česko, an initiative planting 10 million trees to promote resilient cities and healthy landscapes for a better future. They went to two tree-planting sessions near Kašovice (April 1st) and Louny (April 15, 2023) as part of their commitment to making an environmental impact. In their own words, the sense of fulfilment was immense, as they decided to invest their time and effort in something they care about.

During my travels in South America, I realized how much of an impact humans have on their environment,” says Jan, adding “he would like to have a positive one.” His classmate Simon’s impulse ran in a similar vein, as he “has been helping for several years with forest protection in Slovakia to fight deforestation and habitat degradation, preventing trees to be cut down – and now he wanted to plant some!” Filip’s decision to plant trees was triggered by his “feeling compelled to take action and make a positive impact on our planet, and volunteering to plant trees provided him with a good way to give back to the community and connect with nature in a meaningful way.” And since she grew up near the National Park Muráňská Planina in Slovakia, Ester did not want to stay behind and wanted to “be an active contributor and make sure we do as much as possible to preserve nature in the face of the changing climate.


Answering the call for a more accessible and sustainable life in Prague

The last project saw team up Juliet Destrade, Šimon Pánek and Lilou Vertongen, who took interest in the effects of climate change and expensive housing in the metropolis by helping set up the venue and run effectively a 3-day event organized by a civic initiative originally launched in 2020, called “For the Sustainable and Neighbourly Prague.” The project helped them try out various team dynamics and learn about environmental issues in regard to public transportation.