Boris Kuzmanov – 26 – Bulgaria

Boris Kuzmanov – 26 – Bulgaria

Higher Education - Erasmus+ Master Loan – Spain, 2016-17

‘The Erasmus+ Master loan had a huge positive impact on my life’ says Boris Kuzmanov from Bulgaria. ‘Without this loan, I would have simply been unable to start my Master studies in nuclear energy’, he explains.

Boris developed an interest in nuclear energy from a young age, growing up in Kozloduy, home to Bulgaria’s only nuclear power plant. After studying nuclear engineering in Sofia at undergraduate level, Boris identified the 2-year European Master in Nuclear Energy as an ideal next step.

The programme entails studying in Spain and France, combined with a 6-month internship in an energy company - a perfect fit. While Boris managed to secure a scholarship to cover his tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses were proving particularly costly. Boris was able to secure a loan from Microbank to pursue his studies, backed by an EU guarantee under the Erasmus+ programme.

So far, Boris' experience has been particularly rewarding: ‘The programme is very intense and I really feel I’m learning a lot. But I’ve also had the chance to meet lots of international students and share experiences. This has definitely broadened my vision of the world and enriched my personality.’

Blair Clark – 21 – United Kingdom

Blair Clark – 21 – United Kingdom

Higher Education - Erasmus+ Master Loan – Denmark, 2016-17

‘Overall the Erasmus+ Master Loan has definitely made my postgraduate studies much more feasible’, says Blair Clark, who followed up on his undergraduate law studies in Edinburgh with a Master’s degree in International Security & Law in Denmark.

In taking the decision to study in Denmark, Blair weighed different options to make ends meet. A loan under the newly established Erasmus+ Master Loan Scheme allowed Blair to focus his energy on his studies without having to stress about the financial side.

Blair has found living abroad a particularly enriching experience. He even joined a local football team, thus meeting locals outside the university: ‘It’s an eye-opener. From meeting different, interesting people and learning new things every day to being part of both a multi-national and also the local national community. I guess you could say I’m making full use of my EU citizenship.’

During his undergraduate studies Blair spent a year in the Netherlands on an Erasmus exchange. ‘This opened my eyes to the possibility of studying, living and working abroad. It made me more internationally-minded’, he notes. In the future, he intends to focus on the field of security and particularly conflict-resolution. He is confident that his international experience will play in his favour.

Maryia Vidzevich – 24 – Belarus

Maryia Vidzevich – 24 – Belarus

Erasmus Mundus – Spain, 2013-14

‘Only by participation and engagement a true change may occur. Thanks to EU funded projects our young people learn about democracy, get to know their neighbours, become more tolerant and open minded.’

Maryia was studying tourism, but everything changed in 2013 when she received an Erasmus Mundus scholarship to go to the University of Deusto in Bilbao. 

Amazed by the opportunities her European peers had, Maryia became a true Erasmus+ enthusiast. Once she returned to Belarus, she changed her focus from tourism and started an internship at the Office for Initiatives Promotion, an NGO running some of the Erasmus+ funded programs relating to education, culture and social development.

Soon she became a full-time EVS project manager. She now works with youngsters aged 11 to 17 and adults by organising forums, conferences and training courses 'to promote democratic values of active citizenship, tolerance [and] diversity'. She’s also behind the Minsk International Model of United Nations - a simulation of United Nations where students can discuss world problems, get to know the international decision making process and feel part of the global community.

Maryia says: ‘Programmes such as Erasmus+ really bring a change to our country by spreading democratic values, business know how and creating new development opportunities.’ After all, 'being European is not about the country you live in, it's about the values, your beliefs [and] your actions'.

Lusiana Mailaj – 29 – Albania

Lusiana Mailaj – 29 – Albania

European Voluntary Service – 9 countries, 2013- present

‘To all youth out there: Be open to new possibilities. Don’t hold back because of prejudices and stereotypes – be the one who breaks them instead.’

A youth exchange trip in 2011 to Serbia made Lusiana’s family and friends raise their eyebrows. For her curiosity took her to a country that had a troubled history with her own.

Yet this experience was so profound that she started to look for other Erasmus+ opportunities. She found out about the European Voluntary Service (EVS) and was accepted for a month-long project at the Turkish city festival in Mugla. That’s where she met Mijen, her new best friend from Serbia.

Lusiana’s placements have taken her inside and outside the EU. ‘Bringing together people from different countries, social backgrounds and with different abilities helps to build an environment of mutual understanding, tolerance and solidarity. It helps to challenge stereotypes. That’s why I got so close with Mijen,’ she explains.

More than 6 years and 14 Erasmus+ projects later, Lusiana shares her experiences of overcoming stereotypes anywhere she can to help people understand that diversity is valuable. That’s why she joined the EuroPeers network and started her own NGO, People First Association to promote opportunities created by Erasmus+.

The International Master in Adult Education for Social Change (IMAESC) – United Kingdom

The International Master in Adult Education for Social Change (IMAESC) – United Kingdom

Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree – 5 countries, 2016-20

'We are looking at adult education as a critical tool for social change. We believe that adult education is key for a sustainable and just future.'

A group of 24 students from 18 different countries has just completed their first year of the Erasmus Mundus International Master in Adult Education for Social Change that spans across 5 different countries: Estonia, Cyprus, Malaysia, Malta and Scotland. The students come from places as far afield as Pakistan and China, but they have one thing in common: they all ‘want to change the world’.

The Masters offers classes and guest lectures from some of the world’s leading adult educators. Students are also involved in work-based learning placements in each of the partner countries. Some students taught English to migrants in Rosemount Learning Centre in Glasgow. After working in Glasgow’s Women’s library, one student plans to open a library in Nigeria and another student has been active on LGBT+ issues in Europe.

In addition, each summer the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning hosts up to 6 students to work on important policy issues related to global adult education.

Canadian native Dr Bonnie Slade, heads up the course and feels that her Erasmus Mundus experience has been extremely rewarding despite the challenge of launching the programme from scratch. She feels that the impact of the programme can be profound: 'Anything we can do to engage people and open dialogue could help make positive social change.’  The students involved in the programme 'work across the world and become aware of global issues'.

Mattea Capelli – 47 – Italy

Mattea Capelli – 47 – Italy

Erasmus student mobility – United Kingdom, 1991

‘My students today know they have to think broadly and globally … and this is what they get from Erasmus+.'

Mattea is a true pioneer of Erasmus+, both as a student and as a professional. Years after her own Erasmus experience in Brighton, Mattea and her colleagues at the international office in Sapienza University launched mobility programmes with non-EU countries from scratch.

With her Erasmus memories in mind, Mattea proactively expanded the scope of international partnerships. Her university in Rome has recently hosted students from Myanmar as a result.

Today she sees her tireless work paying off, as other international offices are ‘popping up everywhere’ and Erasmus+ tools and conversion schemes are rapidly developing in far-off places, such as Senegal and Latin America.

The internationalisation of universities in Europe and across the world has been enormous and this is because of student mobility’, she said.

Mattea hopes that Erasmus+ will continue to help students across the world: ‘Every student should get involved in Erasmus+. I feel it would open their minds and shift attitudes.'

International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE) – Belgium

International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE) – Belgium

Erasmus Mundus – 6 countries, 2010-Present

‘Academic programmes are very important because they can adapt to ever-changing conditions in the world. You need people who can assess the risk involved with new innovations.’

The Erasmus Mundus International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE) is a 2-year joint degree administered by the University of Ghent (Belgium), Lund University (Sweden) and the University of Edinburgh (UK). Students have the opportunity to study at those 3 universities and to prepare their Master’s thesis there or at 3 other establishments: The University of Queensland (Australia), ETH Zurich (Switzerland) or the University of Maryland (USA). Each university offers their own speciality to participants.

The aim is to train ‘top-notch fire safety engineers’, says Bart Merci, the coordinator of the programme. Students learn, for example, to evaluate how new building materials behave in terms of fire safety or how an open space workplace needs different security measures than traditional offices. ‘There is a clear societal need to reduce casualties, reduce economic loss and to improve global welfare in a sustainable way.

100 students, mainly mechanical and civil engineers, have completed the programme so far. Several have received awards for their thesis work, or work for high-level projects.
The programme offers scholarships to students worldwide, including those from Latin America and Asia who could otherwise not afford to study abroad. The mixture of different backgrounds enables students and lecturers to get different perspectives from each other. ‘They can start to become more critical of certain rules in their home country,’ adds Bart. ‘If you have strong international collaboration your view is broadened … and this is really important to stay well-equipped in tackling today’s and tomorrow’s challenges and situations.

Lia Vania Dewi and Maximilian Hertanto – both 29 – Indonesia

Lia Vania Dewi and Maximilian Hertanto  – both 29 – Indonesia

Lia: Erasmus Mundus Masters – Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, 2011-13
Maximilian: Erasmus Mundus Masters – Sweden, Belgium, 2012-14

‘Erasmus+ is a perfect solution to facilitate international cooperation between Europe and other regions. Through personal contacts, unforgettable experiences and skills sharing it changes the way how Europe is seen.’ – Maximilian

‘Erasmus Mundus is the best way to improve international cooperation between Europe and the rest of the world. [The experience] really stays with you and impacts the way to perceive Europe… It empowers young people and bonds us together above the borders.’ - Lia

Who would think that a Master’s in forensic science or aeromechanics opens doors to a career in diplomacy and international business? Yet that’s what happened to Lia and Maximilian, from Indonesia, who undertook Erasmus Mundus programmes in Europe and received internationally recognised diplomas. They have since used their acquired skills in a very creative manner.

The knowledge I gained during the program is very useful in my every day work – I can have deeper discussions with my clients, I have learnt to appreciate diversity and live harmoniously with people from other countries,’ said Lia who is now a business advisor at the Danish embassy in Jakarta.
Maximilian works as an enterprise resource planning consultant in a global technological company and says Erasmus+ changed the way he ‘approaches difficulties and solves problems’ and he learnt how to ‘adapt to a fast changing business environment’.

They both believe that the program contributes to improving Europe’s relations with other parts of the world and empowers young people by creating opportunities. Maximilian explained: ‘Erasmus Mundus was an amazing career booster. We want to share it with others to encourage them to try. It’s worth it.

This is the reason why they’ve recorded a song together about their experience called 'Build our Dreams'.

Geline Alfred Fuko – 37 – Tanzania

Geline Alfred Fuko – 37 – Tanzania

Erasmus Mundus – Italy, Hungary, Germany, 2010-12

'I now have the skills to understand issues in a bigger picture. I can do something very small… but I will see the big impact coming out of it. This is because of the interdisciplinary approach and the understanding initiated during my Erasmus Mundus Master’s degree.’

Geline is more than just a lawyer, she uses her knowledge to help young people and women in Tanzania become more involved in political and social life, both locally and nationally. ‘You learn about what is going on in other parts of the world, but there are things that you will take back with you that you wish to see happening in your country,’ she explained.

During her interdisciplinary Erasmus Mundus programme, Geline learned how to address societal problems by taking the approaches of different disciplines into account and became more confident in expressing herself with people of different origins. Her views were broadened – and she came to realise that it is ‘important to not only focus on providing education but to think of why we want the education in the first place. What do we want to address with education?’

Following her Erasmus+ experience, Geline founded an NGO that works to contribute in local development in Tanzania among other things, promote democratic governance and rule of law. The organisation encourages young people and women around Tanzania to take up leadership roles. Through their online platforms, citizens can participate in the law-making process of the Tanzanian parliament and legal experts can have a closer relationship with policy-makers.

Gratian Mihailescu – 38 – Romania

Gratian Mihailescu – 38 – Romania

Erasmus Mundus – Italy, Hungary, Serbia, 2010-12

‘I always wanted to make a change in the world, even if on a very small scale. The Erasmus Mundus experience gave me new perspectives and a sense of belonging to a global community.’

Gratian doesn’t break promises. So when Sayed, his Bangladeshi friend, shared his dream of building a library in his hometown, Gratian knew he would get involved.

They both met during their Erasmus Mundus studies in local development which took them to 3 European universities – in Trente, Budapest, and Belgrade.

After countless crowdfunding campaigns, calls and conferences, 4 years later, Gratian and Sayed opened Masud Parves Library in Soalia, northwest Bangladesh in cooperation with EduCab (Education Capacity Building in Local Libraries). The newly constructed building equipped with books and laptops serves the needs of 30,000 people. This year another library in Bangladesh is to be opened and there are plans for similar projects in Uganda, Senegal, and Tanzania. 

Gratian says:  ‘In global projects, we gain a true cultural understanding, broaden our perspectives and create personal bonds with people. By this kind of cooperation, we can make the world a better place’.

He now runs a start-up dedicated to sustainable and smart cities, UrbanizeHub, and teaches at West University in Timisoara, Romania.

Tarynne Swarts – South Africa

Tarynne Swarts – South Africa

Erasmus Mundus – Belgium, Spain, 2011

‘Erasmus+ has inspired me to do everything on a larger scale. Erasmus+ has made the world smaller and more accessible.’

Some people find that having one job just isn’t enough to lead a fulfilling life. South African native Tarynne Swarts is one such person.

During her Education Science studies in both Belgium and Spain, she worked closely with professors, researchers and students from across the world. But Tarynne was also keen to embrace her passion of music, and soon immersed herself in the local arts scenes, making valuable contacts and even recording her debut album Pachamama.

After Erasmus+, Tarynne had a yearning to return home to Nelson Mandela Bay to ‘give something back to my local community’.  She combined the knowledge gained through Erasmus+ with her love of music by setting up a live music events company, PachamamaProject Productions, which helps emerging African musical talent thrive and boosts the local music industry.  She also founded the Imibala (Colour) Arts festival, bringing together local and international music talent. Her Erasmus Mundus experience helped her create connections and networks between Europe and South Africa.

Asked about future plans, Tarynne would like to continue to grow the Imibala festival, finalise her PhD and continue pursuing her music career. ‘For me, music and education combined are powerful catalysts for change.

Tateh Lehbib Braica – 28 – Algeria

Tateh Lehbib Braica – 28 – Algeria

Higher Education Mobility – Spain, 2014-15

‘Before getting the grant to improve the situation in which we live in, it was a dream that seemed hard to reach. But when I got the grant, I discovered that nothing is impossible.’

Growing up in a Saharawi refugee camp with harsh weather conditions in southwest Algeria, Tateh dreamt of finding a way to improve living conditions for refugees. Tateh’s dream came true when he received an Erasmus Mundus grant to study energy efficiency in Spain and devised a weather-resistant shelter using sand-filled plastic bottles. His project was praised by the UNHCR who contributed funds for 25 more shelters.

Tateh has also launched green initiatives in several refugee camps, schools and youth and cultural centres to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling plastic bottles. Associations involved in the yearly Sahara Marathon have agreed to collect the plastic bottles used in the competition and to donate money for the cause.
Tateh has big plans for the future: ‘My dream is to build a house for every refugee family. I want to build schools and hospitals as well.

ESSENCE – The Netherlands

ESSENCE – The Netherlands

Higher Education project – The Netherlands, Spain and Finland, 2014-17

Erasmus+ – The Netherlands, Spain and Finland, 2014 - 2017

‘Sustainable Europe is not something that is just going to happen. It’s a goal that we have an obligation to follow. It requires finding creative solutions to problems and a strong will to implement them.’

Providing ‘creative solutions’ is exactly what students of an innovative, interdisciplinary course - run through Erasmus+ project ESSENCE - are taught to do. 

ESSENCE is an international, cross-sectorial project designed by 5 higher education institutions, to promote and support the development of sustainable cities. The project provides current and future professionals with practical skills and the best available knowledge necessary to design the transformation of modern European cities

In a cooperation with 3 municipalities: Turku in Finland, Alcoy in Spain and Utrecht in the Netherlands, students find viable solutions for real-life issues such as reducing CO2 emissions, improving transportation, social inclusion or the circular economy.

Around 600 people participated in project ESSENCE:  students, university teachers, researchers, experts, professionals from municipalities, SMEs and decision makers.

Project director from the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht, Professor Ivo Opstelten admits that there are often challenges to tackling these tasks but with ‘common will and determination’ the project thrives.

As more people are living in cities, this project is increasingly important for Europe. To encourage sustainability, parts of the programme are open for use in other regions.

ENVKIDS – Greece

ENVKIDS – Greece

School Education – Czech Republic, Greece, France, Sweden, Norway, 2009-11

‘If we want to talk about sustainability and good environmental behaviour, then we need to focus on the next generation.’

Through computer games, the ENVKIDS project has inspired some of the future generation of Europe to be environmentally concerned global citizens. These complementary educational tools were developed by a pan-European team of researchers, tech experts and teachers. They are designed to ‘make pupils think for themselves’ about their impact on the environment.

My Home, My Town and My Planet, were tested in schools in 5 partner countries. While playing My House pupils make environmental house improvements; in My Town they design eco-towns complete with parks, public transport and cycle lanes; and in My Planet, pupils learn how much countries consume and the overall global impact.

Environmentally sustainable practices have to be about education,’ says software engineer, Hariklia Tsalapatas, who was behind the games’ creation. She believes that through education, children will become more responsible citizens in the future. The ENVKIDS project’s success demonstrates how effective immersive learning games are. It also shows the crucial role schools play in explaining that the planet’s wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility, and what we as individuals can do.

Nadine Norgeot-Véron – 52 – France

Nadine Norgeot-Véron – 52 – France

Higher education – United Kingdom, 1988

Vocational Education and Training Strategic Partnerships - Scotland and Norway, 2014-17

Studying abroad makes you accept risk-taking, overcome fears and be open to new opportunities. I wanted my students to have those experiences.’

As one of the first French Erasmus participants, Nadine did not know what to expect from her 6-month exchange. But ever since, her career has been devoted to encouraging other people to follow her footsteps and participate in Erasmus+.

After her experience in Leeds, Nadine veered away from a career in international business and commerce to become a teacher. For almost 22 years, she has been involved with Erasmus-funded projects: Vocational Education and Training, School Education and Adult Education.

Working for the Head Office of State Education in Normandy, Nadine coordinates a cross-sectorial, multinational strategic partnership called Winds and Tides, which creates training designs for students about marine renewables.

This project produces tools for teachers of Vocational Education and Training and Higher Education in France, Scotland and Norway so they can offer training opportunities, qualifications and skills for the future workforce in this fast-growing industry.

By providing quality education, fostering workers mobility and supporting the production of clean energy, Nadine says that the project contributes to sustainable development, and ‘helps people have a better life in a better, cleaner environment’.

So not only does Nadine encourage students to explore Europe, she is also leading a project that helps protect it, all through Erasmus+.

Ewa Smuk-Stratenwerth – 63 – Poland

Ewa Smuk-Stratenwerth – 63 – Poland

Adult Education – Poland, 2014-17

I believe in what Grundtvig claimed: the big part of true learning happens during practice – when you truly engage for your personal benefit and the benefits of others.’

Ewa, a dedicated environmentalist and social activist, has been running educational projects for adults from marginalised communities since 1995. She organises educational activities at her organic farm in a small village of Grzybow, which are inspired by Danish philosopher Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig’s folk high schools.

Socrates - Grundtvig funds (earlier name of Erasmus+ programme) contributed to adult courses focussed on sustainability; they cover craftsmanship and art, IT skills, health and ecology, and personal development. Ewa also invites school children to the farm for trips that raise awareness about the environment and ecology.

With funds from Erasmus+ and Danish Velux Foundation, a full-scale folk high school called Ecological Folk University was established in 2014. The university offers 104 days of classes and 14 months hands-on experience on 17 farms in Poland. This occurs as a 2-year course on organic farming and sustainable development.

The outcomes from the project: curriculum, guidelines, handbook and final publication including good practical examples, conclusions and recommendations – are distributed for free to promote sustainable development in Europe and to assure Grundtvig’s legacy continues.

Agata Babina – 35 – Latvia

Agata Babina – 35 – Latvia

European Voluntary Service – Spain, 2004

‘Life should be about sharing, volunteering, hosting and travelling.’

Eager to improve her Spanish, Agata came across a leaflet on European Voluntary Service (EVS) at her university in Latvia. Agata not only improved her language skills, she also met her future husband in an EVS preparatory meeting and ‘quickly became addicted to the project experience and wanted more.’

Agata's volunteering experience transformed her into an active citizen: 'You learn to think, to criticise and to empower others to change', in fact, after her EVS she was involved in setting up an environmental NGO Radi Vidi Pats (Make the Environment Yourself) with 9 other young volunteers, and soon became its leader. As Agata explains: 'none of us are scientists. The environment is a tool for our activities, while our NGO focuses on youth and is community-based.'

Radi Vidi Pats hosts volunteers from abroad, who learn how to think, to be critical, and empower others to change. They make videos, talk to local politicians, and run some media campaigns raising awareness of environmental issues. Many of Radi Vidi Pats participants have gone on to become youth workers or work in municipalities.

Agata encourages young people to play more of an active role in society. She is hopeful for the future of sustainability, at least in Europe: 'being Eco and green is trendy and has become fancy, this is how it should be. It is just normal to be friends with the environment - we depend on it anyway'.

Urban Green Train – Italy

Urban Green Train – Italy

Higher Education – Italy, Netherlands, France, Germany 2014-17

‘Urban agriculture fulfils important functions such as environmental sustainability, food security and social cohesion.’

Don’t have a garden but still want to get your hands dirty? You may be interested in an innovative, 150-hour training course that equips students and entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills needed to bring urban agriculture to life. From flowers grown on a roof to potted plants on a balcony, urban agriculture can ‘boost environmental sustainability, food security and social cohesion’. 

The course shows students that urban agriculture is not ‘simply a hobby’. The lessons are ‘strongly practical, with a lot of group work to get students to develop their own ideas and be able to pitch them,’ explains project coordinator Dr Francesco Orsini from the University of Bologna in Italy. Some students have already been able to gain credits by completing modules, and are taking ‘the first step towards developing a full Masters course on this subject’.

Funded through Erasmus+, the pilot project has also built a European cluster that connects academic institutions, think tanks, entrepreneurs and civil society. Their first international meeting will take place this September.

Racines (Francesco Cury & Ugo Federico) – 33, 38 – Italy

Racines (Francesco Cury & Ugo Federico) – 33, 38 – Italy

Vocational Education and Training – Belgium, 2016-18

‘Working with Erasmus+ means tapping into the richness of young people. They are the ones who have to build the future that we want to achieve.’

Through promoting sustainable practices, celebrating local excellence and encouraging cross-border exchange, Belgian-Italian restaurant Racines is in many ways a perfect example of the European project. Established by Italian duo Francesco Cury and Ugo Federico, their Brussels-based restaurant serves organically grown, local produce and receive Vocational Education and Training trainees from Italy. Aged between 19 and 21, Francesco explains that the trainees are at the age ‘when you begin to realise what you are capable of and what opportunities are out there’. The trainees not only learn about restaurant life but also experience it through a sustainable approach. After their traineeship period, they leave with an ‘ethical conscience about the world’ and memories that will stay with them for years to come with.

The Racines team consists of 14 staff members and 4 trainees, who work against the trend of the ‘extremely wasteful’ food sector by using vegetables grown in a 30km radius and purchased through cooperatives. Moreover, by focusing on ethical and sustainable considerations, Racines actively reduces the carbon footprint by not using meat products. According to Francesco, this shows that for the Erasmus+ generation, 'sustainable living is normal and necessary'.

Sustainable Islands (SusI) project – Spain

Sustainable Islands (SusI) project – Spain

School Education – 6 countries (Spain, Cyprus, France, Portugal, Iceland and Italy), 2013-15

‘Residents became more aware of where they live and were filled with a new-found pride in their homelands.’

Living on an island can make a community feel isolated, and problems associated with sustainability become magnified. The Sustainable Islands, or SusI project, aimed to counter this by looking at society, the economy and the environment on islands through sustainable eyes.

Project coordinator, Guillermo Raúl Navarro Montesdeoca, lives on Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain and explained that the project offered practical advice to islanders such as how to produce high quality food locally and how to protect wildlife.

Trees were planted on all of the 6 islands involved in the project, while residents were encouraged to rely less on expensive low-grade imports and protect sea life by releasing turtles into the water. The project also aims to educate the younger generation to be more ecologically aware, 'we also brought students to sustainable places, such as a geothermal energy plant in Iceland, which made them reflect on their everyday energy consumption and its implied links to food production, transports, waste management and, generally speaking, a sustainable way of living'.

Thanks to the project, residents from the different islands began cooperating closely and as a result, realised that they suffer the same problems and learned how to find common solutions. As Guillermo explains: 'there was a realisation that each island has a lot in common and this brought the islands together. People became more aware of their islands and took pride in them.'