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Erasmus+ 30 anniversary logo

În prim-plan: Erasmus+ și dimensiunea sa internațională

În 30 de ani de mobilitate prin programul Erasmus – astăzi Erasmus+ – s-au creat mii de rețele de încredere care le-au permis europenilor să studieze, să se formeze sau să facă voluntariat în străinătate. Aceștia pot acum să traverseze liber frontierele și să se familiarizeze cu alte puncte de vedere și perspective, să facă schimb de idei și de experiență, să împărtășească valori și să demareze proiecte comune.  Orizonturi mai largi, o înțelegere comună mai bună și mai multe competențe și posibilități – iată elementele care definesc generația Erasmus+.

Procesul de cooperare voluntară inițiat în 1987 de 11 țări europene a ajuns să fie astăzi o rețea unică la nivel mondial. Cu Erasmus+, studenții, cadrele didactice și tinerii din toată lumea pot veni acum în Europa și tot astfel, europenii pot merge în alte părți ale lumii. După cum spunea Bart Merci, coordonator de proiect al unui program de master Erasmus Mundus, „în timp ce învață despre alte țări, studenții învață să reflecteze și la țara lor.”

De toate acestea beneficiază nu doar persoanele fizice: universitățile și organizațiile de tineret din țările partenere au de câștigat, la rândul lor, de pe urma schimbului de idei și de experiență care ajută la formarea competențelor și la dezvoltarea capacităților de care au nevoie europenii pentru a face față provocărilor economiei globalizate. Contactul direct pe care îl creează proiectele Erasmus+ corespunde perfect politicii externe a UE, care vizează îmbunătățirea poziției Europei și a relațiilor sale cu restul lumii. Astfel, Erasmus+ face parte integrantă din politica externă și diplomatică a UE, ilustrată, de exemplu, de noua strategie UE-Africa, în care cooperarea în domeniul educației și al tineretului joacă un rol esențial.

În perioada 2014-2020, 17 % din bugetul Erasmus+ va merge către proiecte și burse cu orientare internațională și va permite ca 180 000 de studenți și cadre didactice să circule între Europa și restul lumii. Pe lângă aceasta, vor fi demarate 1 000 de proiecte de consolidare a capacităților pentru învățământul superior și vor fi acordate 30 000 de burse pentru studenți din toată lumea, cu ajutorul cărora vor putea participa la programele de masterat comun Erasmus Mundus.

Relatările pe care le puteți citi în acest buletin informativ lunar se concentrează pe dimensiunea globală a programului Erasmus+ și ilustrează diversele modalități prin care programul stimulează cooperarea internațională. Suntem siguri nu doar că vă vor capta interesul, ci și că vă vor inspira să vă implicați, să acționați și să faceți diferența, oriunde în lume v-ați afla!

Read our spotlight stories from Erasmus+ participants

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.

Grațian Mihăilescu – 38 ani – România

Grațian Mihăilescu – 38 ani – România

Erasmus Mundus – Italia, Ungaria, Serbia, 2010-2012

„Mi-am dorit întotdeauna să schimb lumea, chiar și la o scară foarte mică. Experiența Erasmus Mundus mi-a oferit perspective noi și un sentiment al apartenenței la o comunitate globală.”

Grațian nu încalcă nicio promisiune. Așa că, atunci când Sayed, prietenul său din Bangladesh, i-a împărtășit visul de a construi o bibliotecă în orașul lui natal, Grațian a știut că se va implica.

Cei doi s-au cunoscut în timpul studiilor în dezvoltare locală din cadrul Erasmus Mundus, pe care le-au desfășurat în trei universități europene - din Trento, Budapesta și Belgrad.

Patru ani mai târziu, după nenumărate campanii, telefoane și conferințe de finanțare participativă (crowdfunding), Grațian și Sayed au deschis Biblioteca Masud Parves din Soalia, localitate situată în nord-vestul Bangladeshului, în cooperare cu EduCab (Education Capacity Building in Local Libraries – Creșterea capacității educaționale a bibliotecilor la nivel local). Clădirea nou-construită, dotată cu cărți și laptopuri, deservește nevoile a 30 000 de persoane. Anul acesta urmează să fie deschisă o altă bibliotecă în Bangladesh, fiind în plan proiecte similare în Uganda, Senegal și Tanzania.

Grațian este de părere că „în cadrul proiectelor desfășurate la nivel internațional dobândim o adevărată înțelegere culturală, ne lărgim perspectivele și creăm legături personale cu oamenii. Printr-o astfel de cooperare putem transforma această lume într-un loc mai bun.”

În prezent, Grațian conduce un start-up dedicat orașelor durabile și inteligente, denumit UrbanizeHub, și predă la Universitatea de Vest din Timișoara, România.

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.