Katja Nigsch – 40 – Liechtenstein

Katja Nigsch – 40 – Liechtenstein

Vocational and Educational Training (VET)

Ireland, 1999

Katja completed a traineeship at the Connacht Tribune in Galway, as part of her training to become a graphic designer. She now works in Liechtenstein as an office assistant at the Ministry of Health, and on weekends at an art museum. Prior to her VET mobility, Katja felt shy when speaking English. By the end of her traineeship, however, she noticed a marked improvement in her language skills, and even felt confident in her ability to live and work internationally. Her experience also allowed Katja to appreciate the wealth of knowledge to be gained by adapting to new ways of life and being open to other cultures.

Kristīne Luīze Avotiņa – 33 – Latvia

Kristīne Luīze Avotiņa – 33 – Latvia

Erasmus – Higher Education

Spain, 2008

Kristīne is a graduate of the Latvian Academy of Arts and has gone on to become a renowned artist in her home country. Her paintings have been displayed in numerous sold out solo exhibitions, and she has been commissioned to carry out a diverse range of artistic projects. These include the recent installation of artwork in public trams. Kristīne cites her eight months spent in Barcelona as part of the Erasmus programme as a defining moment in her life and career. The experience provided her with the confidence to make full use of vivid colours, something that has become a consistent theme within Kristīne’s work.

Martina Caironi – 27 – Italy

Martina Caironi – 27 – Italy

Erasmus – Sport

Spain, 2012

Martina was 22 when she went on an Erasmus exchange to Soria, Spain. Due to injuries from a motorcycle accident, Martina underwent a high-femoral amputation of her left leg in 2007. Living away from home for the first time pushed her far beyond her comfort zone, and boosted her self-confidence. By learning a new language, and experiencing a new culture and country, Martina discovered new ways of thinking. Two months after her Erasmus stay ended, she won a gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games she won a gold medal in the 100m sprint, and a silver medal in the long jump.

Michael Ward – 23 – Ireland

Michael Ward – 23 – Ireland

European Voluntary Service (EVS)

Estonia, Finland, Georgia, 2013

Michael is a youth worker and currently part of the National Youth Action Group in Ireland. He is a strong advocate of Erasmus+ programmes, having participated in an EVS exchange to Estonia in November 2013 and gone on to lead youth exchanges in Finland and Georgia. A member of the Irish Traveller ethnic group in Ireland, Michael believes that international exchanges help to remove prejudices and give participants opportunities they might otherwise not have known existed. He plans to study abroad next year, and his ultimate goal is to establish an NGO that helps disadvantaged youth to realise their potential.

Brynhildur Gudjonsdottir – 44 – Iceland

Brynhildur Gudjonsdottir – 44 – Iceland

Erasmus – Higher Education

France, 1993

Brynhildur is a well-known Icelandic actor and director who is currently directing a French opera in Reykjavik. She has performed in numerous countries and believes that her year spent studying in Montpellier, France as a participant in the Erasmus programme in 1993-94 opened her eyes to how language can be used not only to communicate but also to better understanding different cultures. A love of language has remained with Brynhildur throughout her life, and she believes that being multilingual has made her a better actress and director and opened doors to her that would otherwise have remained closed.

Gellért Szó – 28 – Hungary

Gellért Szó – 28 – Hungary

Vocational and Educational Training (VET)

France, 2014

Gellért spent his apprenticeship in France learning the tricks of the trade from pastry chefs. An avid baker since he was a teenager, Gellért used his time in France to further improve his skills and techniques, and explore new methods of work. Gellért now owns an award-winning bakery in Budapest, and has recently opened a second branch in Eger, Hungary. Gellért has employed the skills he learnt on his Erasmus+ traineeship, and been awarded the 'Best Cake' prize in Hungary for two consecutive years (2015 and 2016).

Nicolas Pallikarakis – 68 – Greece

Nicolas Pallikarakis – 68 – Greece

International Cooperation

19 Partner countries, since 1990

Despite officially retiring recently, Nicolas remains committed to fostering excellence in the field of biomedical engineering and encouraging European research collaboration within Europe and beyond. As Professor Emeritus at Patras University in Greece, Nicolas continues to teach postgraduates, coordinate R&D activities and support new Erasmus+ programmes at the university. Nicolas was an early advocate of harmonising biomedical engineering curricula across Europe and beyond, and has seen first-hand the benefits to students, institutions and citizens in general of closer research collaboration in medical research. His current ambition is to strengthen synergies with universities in South America.

Rainer Lisowski – 40 – Germany

Rainer Lisowski – 40 – Germany

Erasmus Mundus

China – 2013 - present

Rainer is a part-time professor at the University of Applied Science in Osnabrück, Germany and also runs his own company offering project management services to German and Chinese businesses. With a depth of knowledge about Chinese business culture, Rainer has been involved in the University’s Erasmus Mundus study programme MARIHE (Master in Research Innovation and Higher Education) since 2013, and is also a visiting lecturer at Beijing Normal University. Rainer has seen first-hand how international exchange can broaden minds, boost careers and forge international friendships, and the experience has also sharpened his understanding of the importance of helping students adapt to different learning environments.

Sylvie Le Moël Philippe – 50 – France

Sylvie Le Moël Philippe – 50 – France

Adult Education

Greece, Cyprus & UK, 2011-16

As Erasmus+ project manager, and voluntary tutor at a non-profit education centre in Brittany, Sylvie has experienced first-hand how work and study exchanges can improve the provision of education, broaden horizons, and reinforce cultural understanding. Having studied in London and Bruges, and been the recipient of several Grundtvig scholarships herself, Sylvie now devotes her time to helping others follow in her footsteps and experience the varied teaching and learning opportunities available throughout Europe as part of the Erasmus+ programme. She has developed several Erasmus+ projects in the fields of language learning and intercultural awareness, and pioneered ground-breaking initiatives such as bringing Greek language and cultural studies into prison education in France.

Tiina Tissari – 43 – Finland

Tiina Tissari – 43 – Finland

Erasmus – Higher Education

Germany, 1994

Tiina is co-founder and CEO of Vestiarium, a Helsinki-based fashion company with customers in Finland, and other EU Member States and beyond. Having pursued a successful career in the high tech sector working for companies such as Nokia and Microsoft for over 15 years, Tiina felt the time was right for a career change. She credits much of her self-confidence to her Erasmus exchange in 1994, which introduced her not only to new cultures, languages and friendships, but also demonstrated to herself that she could make her own way in the world.

Reelika Eerik – 36 – Estonia

Reelika Eerik – 36 – Estonia

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

UK and Norway, 1999

Reelika is currently focusing on her own food service training company in Estonia. Reelika is passionate about development and modernisation in her industry, and has worked extensively within this field. For example, she was involved in the establishment of a nationwide 'Modern Waiter' competition in Estonia, and has been involved in restructuring vocational training and examinations in the field. Much of her inspiration builds on her experience during her mobility abroad in the UK and Norway, where Reelika was exposed to new catering methods and able to learn new languages. In her career, Reelika has continually sought to share these experiences, and has even published a book on the topic entitled The Art of Service.

Mina Jaf – 28 – Denmark

Mina Jaf – 28 – Denmark

European Voluntary Service (EVS)

Belgium, 2015

Having left Iraqi Kurdistan as a child, Mina understands the importance of protecting refugee rights. In 2015, she volunteered at Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen (Flemish Refugee Action) for a year. The experience allowed her to develop her own skills, such as languages (she speaks five), management, leadership, and coordination. Mina is passionate about protecting the rights of refugees. She established the organisation Women Refugee Route which aims to provide information and services to women and girls during their journey, and increasing their visibility. In 2016, Mina was awarded the Voices of Courage Award by the Women's Refugee Commission.

Martina Baseggio – 39 – Czech Republic

Martina Baseggio – 39 – Czech Republic

School Education

Czech Republic, 2008-present

Martina is an established eTwinning Erasmus+ ambassador, organising virtual exchanges with schools throughout Europe. In 2008, she took part in a Comenius project which explored the social impact of migration. She later ran a project combining language learning and ICT. In her school in Ostrava, Martina is currently running a programme for English and Spanish teachers, which involves short-term teacher exchanges and job shadowing. In 2011 and again in 2015, Martina was awarded the European Language Label for her work. Martina is a firm believer in eTwinning as it has helped her students experience other cultures, form their own opinions and identify as European citizens.

Xenia Constantinou – 37 – Cyprus

Xenia Constantinou – 37 – Cyprus

Erasmus – Higher Education

France, 1999

Xenia’s Erasmus experience piqued her interest in European integration. While doing her thesis on the same subject, she discovered the Council of Europe Human Rights in Education programme in Budapest and promptly enrolled. She then started running communal peace activities between young Turkish and Greek Cypriots and not long after, took advantage of the Erasmus youth programme to organise exchange visits between Cypriots and other Europeans. Xenia has twice served as Vice-President of the Cyprus National Youth Council (CYC). She has also served as Vice-President of the European Youth Forum (YFJ). Since November 2014, she is Chairwoman of the Democratic Rally Women's’ Organisation in Cyprus.

Petar Lukačić – Croatia

Petar Lukačić – Croatia

Adult Education

Finland, 2013

Petar is a librarian in the award-winning Koprivnica public library in Croatia. He spent 10 days on a job-shadowing visit to Helsinki and Sastamala in Finland. The experience gave him the chance to see first-hand how is it to work in another library and gained many ideas to implement back in Croatia. He received funding and training on how to write project proposals and built a positive working network with colleagues in Helsinki and Sastamala. After his ten-day stint in Finland, Petar was inspired to modernise work methods and services at his local library, resulting in his involvement of one of the first TEDxLibrary events: TEDxKoprivincalLibrary.

Christina, Angela & Yuriy – Bulgaria, Moldova & Ukraine

Christina, Angela & Yuriy – Bulgaria, Moldova & Ukraine

International Cooperation Project

10 countries, 2012-15

Are three of the many people involved in La MANCHE, a project promoting the modernisation of higher education in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In addition to these countries, the consortium includes five EU Member States. The project has been instrumental in leading change for all countries involved.  By involving students in decision-making processes, the project generated innovative ways of thinking and new approaches to management. For the students involved, it also equipped them with valuable skills which improved their employability.

Alexandro, Wassim & Aaliyah – 8 > 12 – Belgium

Alexandro, Wassim & Aaliyah – 8 > 12 – Belgium

Erasmus+  - School Education

Belgium & France, 2014-16

Wassim, Alexandro and Aaliyah took part in ‘The Incredible Culinary Journey of Our European Pupils’ at their school in Brussels. The project brought together children from schools in disadvantaged areas in Bobigny, France and Belgium. The students used food as a medium through which to learn. Participating in cooking workshops, the pupils explored the cuisine of their parents’ countries of origin.

Ali Mahlodji – 35 – Austria

Ali Mahlodji – 35 – Austria

Youth in Action

Germany, Italy & Switzerland, 2011

Ali is the co-founder and managing director of the whatchado job-counselling platform. On it, people from across the work share their inspiring stories and provide young people with insights into their job and studies.

Watchado began as a side project in 2011, and expanded after receiving financial support from the Youth in Action programme. The funding and instant access to education experts changed everything, and whatchado now employs 50 people, from 15 countries. The platform currently has 1 million visitors per month and helps young people find opportunities. Ali was nominated as an EU Youth ambassador in 2013 and as part of this role, he was invited to the European Parliament to share his story. In his speech, he mentioned the importance of people working together and not against each other.

Aykut Erol – 44 – Turkey

Aykut Erol – 44 – Turkey

Vocational and Educational Training (VET)

Italy, 2004

Turkish product designer Aykut was one of the first participants to benefit from a vocational training mobility. This experience allowed him to continue his studies at the Domus Academy in Milan, and to meet many renowned designers with whom he worked on different projects. He believes Erasmus+ helps young people broaden their horizons, find new forms of self-expression, and become more conscious, also with regards to the environment. His creations, for instance an award-winning ‘Line Series’, reflect this idea as they propose an environment-friendly and future-oriented design.

Pages