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Unveiling Highlights of EMA's 18th General Assembly & 1st Annual Conference

The Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association (EMA) held its 1st Annual Conference and the 18th General Assembly on May 24-25 in Istanbul, Türkiye. A Member of the event's Organising Committee and two participants share their impressions and reflections with the EMA community.

Leading with Purpose: Reflections of the S&A Unit Director

Nikshan Paudel, Director of the Students and Alumni Relations Unit had the privilege of co-organising and participating in the event. Under the theme "Celebrating Excellence and Enriching Futures," the Conference and General Assembly were held in the iconic city of Istanbul, the heart of continents, symbolising EMA’s commitment to strengthening its global presence. With participants from 64 different nationalities, the gathering truly showcased our multicultural and diverse community.

Participants included representatives from the European Commission, the European Union Delegation in Türkiye, Ambassadors, Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters (EMJMs) coordinators, Rectors, Professors, Students and Alumni of the Erasmus Mundus programme, local stakeholders, and fellow EMA volunteers. The in-person gathering saw over 150 participants on its first day and 80 on the second and was accessible online via EMA’s YouTube channel.

He mentioned it was an “honour to moderate a session on the ‘Excellence in Higher Education’ with esteemed panellists Heathcliff Demaie and Dr Hazariah Mohd Noh. Additionally, I presented the Students & Alumni Relations Unit (S&A) and highlighted EMA's partnerships with Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters programmes to the participants. Other panel discussions during the event focused on European Joint Degrees and the Future of Erasmus Mundus, topics of core interest for EMA and the European Commission as they look forward to shaping the coming years of Erasmus Mundus.”

The AC and the GA were an excellent opportunity to see many volunteers and stakeholders in person and make personal connections that will last a lifetime. For those who attended, Mr Paudel hopes their participation deepened their understanding of the association. He added, “I hope Program Representatives (PRs) realise how pivotal and crucial their roles are within our association and for the EMJMs. PRs are the cornerstone of EMA, and I believe they are the strongest and most important pillar of our association”.

"I hope Program Representatives (PRs) realise how pivotal and crucial their roles are within our association and for the EMJMs."

He looks forward to hearing other reflections and experiences, and fellow participants to contribute with their input. He finished congratulating “all award recipients for your outstanding contributions and keep an eye out for follow-up reflections from the 20th-year celebration of Erasmus Mundus in Brussels!"

Learning, Networking, and Receiving an Award 

Abran Idrees, Programme Representative for Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Geospatial Technologies (GeoTech), participated in the 18th EMA General Assembly & 1st Annual Conference 2024 where his hard work and dedication were recognised with one of the EMA Rising Star Awards.

He said "It was an incredibly exciting moment to receive this prestigious award, affirming my efforts and contributions to the EMA community. Additionally, I participated in EMA's 2nd International Poster Competition, where my poster ranked in the top 15. This recognition motivates me to continue striving for excellence and contributing positively to the Erasmus Mundus community."

The conference and General Assembly were transformative experiences for Mr Idrees, offering an invaluable platform for learning, networking, and cultural exchange. The sessions on EMA statutes and regulations provided deep insights into the latest updates, which are essential for the continuous growth of the community. "Additionally", he commented, "the cultural exchange opportunities allowed me to connect with peers from diverse backgrounds, fostering mutual understanding and respect."

He mentioned he was excited about the future and eager to continue his journey with EMA, contributing to its mission and vision. The knowledge gained, the connections made, and the recognition received during this event have left a lasting impact. He looks forward to further supporting EMA initiatives and engaging with this vibrant, global community.

A Look at Collaboration and Responsibility within EMA

Ana Huembes, Country Representative for Nicaragua and student of the International Master in Adult Education for Social Change (IMAESC) attended the EMA GA for the first time. Ana said that attending the event was a reminder that policies and practices in higher education must aim for diverse representation and participation to ensure equal access and support of EMA students and alumni. That is why while the plenary sessions offered valuable insights for her, the co-creation sessions were her favourite agenda item at the GA, which served as a platform for engagement.

Ana participated in the co-creation session titled ‘Collaborative Innovation for Global Impact: Lessons Learned from Highly Active Regions’. This session brought to light the challenges faced by country representatives from different regions in their pursuit to support Erasmus Mundus students and alumni. Despite having different social realities, EMA country representatives, students and alumni face similar challenges that hinder their application, mobility, and academic processes as well as graduates’ transition to the labour market. Ana and her colleagues at the session expanded on these challenges and discussed some potential solutions, such as fostering regional and interinstitutional collaboration across EMA units and representatives. This experience solidified her belief in leading outside of silos. Even more so, Ana considers it a responsibility of country representatives to advocate for policies and practices that support students and alumni from different regions, not just the countries they represent.  

The panel discussion "Excellence in Higher Education," moderated by Nikshan Paudel, Director of the Students and Alumni Relations Unit, highlighted a critical message for her: “Our responsibility for advancing higher education extends beyond being an Erasmus scholarship holder”. EMA volunteers, students, and alumni have a responsibility to actively advance higher education. 

Ana expressed that Erasmus Mundus students and alumni can play a key role in addressing the existing challenges in higher education as they relate to programme quality and the advancement of graduate impact. She believes that we all are in a position to advocate for the representation of students from diverse social realities and to promote continuous improvement across EMA units and academic programmes. “Each of us serves as an advocate for students and alumni from our countries and regions. By sharing our experiences, we can help program coordinators and EMA leaders gain a more integrative perspective on programme development and implementation”, she concluded.

Last Updated 19 June 2024


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