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EMA’s General Assembly 2020 gathered members from all over the world in a large video conference

By: Fatema Imani

Screenshot from the event

Day 1: EMA’s virtual GA kicks off

EMA's virtual General Assembly (GA) kicked off on May 16th with the theme "EMA Changemakers for Global Solidarity". The virtual GA saw nearly 300 participants from different countries and time zones around the world.

The GA commenced with opening remarks by EMA President Katharina F Heil in tandem with Vice President Marsela Husen.

Katharina talked about EMA's future ambitions, which include increasing its international visibility while establishing itself on a global scale. In order to achieve this, she said, “EMA aims to improve its structure, standardise processes and documentation, include more volunteers, operate on a larger scale, organise more activities and events and foster a strong working culture”.

She also touched upon EMA's working pillars which include:

  1. The Management Board - MB and its units;

  2. Country Representatives (CRs);

  3. Programme Representatives (PRs);

  4. Project Leaders (PLs).

WATCH HERE: This is the structure of the Erasmus Mundus Association.

Later, Policy Officer at the European Commission (EC) Lloyd Anthony Huitson took the floor. He expressed solidarity to everyone in the midst of the unprecedented global COVID-19 situation. He also assured that the European Commission is in talks with universities and other partners to provide support to students who might be facing difficulties with their degrees and certifications because of the COVID-19.

"While the European Commission used to be a top-down model, with the influx of students over the years, it has moved towards a bottom-up approach," he said. He emphasised that the EC wants to open up and be more inclusive, aiming to triple the number of students between 2020 and 2027. He encouraged everyone to provide feedback on how programmes can be improved, saying that there is no point continuing if we don't evolve.

When the floor was open for questions, one of the attendees asked about the fate of students going into the second year of their joint master degree programme to a different country amidst the COVID-19 situation. Huitson responded saying all cases would be considered on a case-by-case approach, underscoring that there would be flexibility from education providers given the novel situation world wide.

For more insights WATCH HERE: EMA and the European Commission: How do we collaborate?

Afterwards, everyone was divided into breakout sessions for an ice-breaking activity that included a round of introductions as well as addressing any questions or concerns.

Following the breakout session, the Legal and Internal Affairs Unit Director, Prashant Kumar walked everyone through EMA's Internal Regulations and the new amendments that were later on voted upon by the required majority via EMA’s new Community Portal.

Sign up to the Community Portal and become an official EMA member:

Later, a presentation prepared by the Project Support Unit, lead by Mannaseh Anand, highlighting EMA and ESAA projects around the world keeping in with the theme of "Global Solidarity".

After closing remarks by President Katharina, it was time to unwind a little. The virtual party was set in motion by a recorded video of Maximillan Hertanto from Indonesia, who sang a beautiful song called "Build our Dreams". This was followed by a live karaoke session that included hits like "Macarena” and "Tum Paas Aaye" among others.

Day 2: EMA’s virtual GA comes to a close

The second and final day of the two-day virtual GA unfolded on May 17th, with a total of 190 participants clocking in from around the world.

After some technical issues that someone jokingly attributed to the live karaoke session the day before that may have broken Zoom, the event started with a pre-recorded interview of co-host Estefania Zarate Angarita with Lia Barrese, programme representative of Erasmus Mundus Master Programme GLOCAL, an acronym for Global Markets, Local Creativities.

With “globalisation” being a buzzword in this time and age, Lia said that GLOCAL is a relevant programme as it's focused on global economic markets, business industries combined with creative industries. Globalisation happens to be at the core of many Erasmus Mundus Masters, with Estefanía saying that her own Journalism Master happened to be called "Journalism, Media & Globalisation'.

Lia talked about the Town Hall meetings, organised by her Programme, that have been taking place every Friday for the last six weeks since the lockdown went into place. The initiative is a platform that serves as a meeting point for all cohorts and alumni with consortium members to discuss the present state of affairs around the world, not only from an academic/professional point of view but also everyone's personal experiences of grappling with the pandemic. This is an example of how worldwide communities like EMA can foster solidarity and connection in the face of the pandemic.

After the interview, the speaker Jie Xiang presented her field research on "The Garbage Bank Proposal in China" in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that focuses on garbage generation, collection in terms of geography and population and recycling among other aspects. Later, participants had time to network and get to know each other in breakout rooms.

Following the breakout session, speaker Dr S. Rajesh presented his work on Water Conservation, a development concern from local to global levels, and one of the most pressing issues of our times.

In the closing remarks, President Katharina said that all amendments proposed to be introduced to EMA's Internal Regulations were approved, thanks to the voting that took place. She also mentioned that EMA's Partnership Development unit had managed to secure a partnership with Weava , a research organisation support tool. All GA attendees will receive a Weava license for free as part of the sponsorship agreement.

Conclusively, all EMA Management Board Units presented their respective teams and line of work, following which individual management board members held smaller-group Zoom sessions for prospective volunteers to learn more about them.

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