SPARK - Sustainable Partnerships through Combined Actions, Resources and Knowledge
Project Start & End:
04/2019 - 10/2019
The SPARK project ran between April and October 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. The aim of the project was to work towards establishing an Erasmus Mundus Association (EMA) secretariat in the heart of the 'EU bubble' in Brussels, where thousands of international organisations have set up their European headquarters.
The project was implemented by recruiting three project and partnerships officers: Joana Xhemali, Caroline Manik and Ingrid Annilo. They were tasked with promoting EMA through reaching out and establishing new partnerships with Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), higher education institutions, and international student and youth organisations. They were also representing EMA in events relevant to EMA's mission. Some of the events attended were the EIT Digital conference, European Citizens' Initiative workshop, Workshops on Collaborating beyond the European Election, European Election Night, ESAA Seminar Weekend, Lifelong Learning Platform Annual Conference, European Youth Week, Jean Monnet 30th Anniversary and Europe Goes Local.
The team has had the pleasure of hosting various distinguished EMA members and discussing the current and future projects, which aims to ensure the sustainability of this venture to establish a secretariat that could serve as an opportunity to reach out to key international players.
Moreover, the team applied for ESAA and EU-funded projects. The project team received funding for three ESAA project proposals they submitted, and also applied for two EU-funded projects, one under the Erasmus+ and another under the Europe for Citizens programme.
Another outcome of the project were three webinars on topics close to the heart of EMA members, which are:
(1) the importance of non-formal education in contemporary societies;
(2) environmental activism and the role of student organizations; and
(3) social entrepreneurship as the vehicle to promote social change and create social impact".
Thanks to the proximity of other student and youth organisations, it proved easy to facilitate partnerships and promote the Association. For example, an ESAA-funded networking evening for Brussels based Erasmus Mundus students, alumni and hosting universities took place in November 2019. Furthermore, the partnerships officers established lasting partnerships with other student and youth organisations.
The continuing impact of this project has been the close network of universities, youth organisations and government institutions all around the world, with EMA. Moreover, the Erasmus Mundus Association gained further recognition and strengthened ties with the other ESAA Member Organizations: ESN, garagErasmus and OCEANS.
Overview of some of the attended events
EIT Digital conference
On the 10th of September 2019, the SPARK team attended the annual EIT Digital Conference, which was organized by the Digital Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The event focused on showcasing the greatest achievements of the KIC and it’s members in the past year, as well as to present the potential that the community has in the future. The keynote speeches tackled issues such as the intersection between artificial intelligence and education as well as the role of the European Parliament and policymakers in supporting disruptive innovation. The SPARK team also had the chance to take a walk in the Innovation Village, where EIT Digital alumni presented their digital innovations such as platforms that can prevent cyberbullying, virtual reality applications that can help you design your living room, and a robot who doubles as a health assistant.
European Citizens’ Initiative workshop
On the 1st of July 2019, the SPARK team participated in the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) workshop that was hosted by the European Citizens’ Action Service (ECAS) and the European Commission representation in Belgium. The event started with a short introduction accompanied by a quiz about the Initiative, mostly focusing on how it functions and the milestones that have been reached. Following the introduction, the floor was given to three activists who could share their success stories while also being open about the difficulties that they encountered while gathering signatures and general support for the ECIs that they launched. From the perspective of EMA, this event was an important way to learn more about online digital engagement of young people, students and alumni, as well as to discover a new aspect to take into account when planning activities on active citizenship and the SDGs.
ESAA Seminar Weekend in Bonn
From the 21st to the 23rd of June 2019, the SPARK team took part in the ESAA Seminar Weekend in Bonn, Germany. The short but intense training offered ESAA members and invited WBAA representatives the opportunity to develop their skills in different fields such as managing projects, teams and partnerships. It also served as a perfect opportunity to network, as one of the core aspects of the SPARK project is to establish and cultivate sustainable partnerships with other student and alumni organizations. Throughout the event, the participants were able to see the development of ESAA projects up close and brainstorm for future projects and initiatives.
Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) - Annual Conference 2019
The SPARK Team attended the Annual Conference of Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) on the 20th of June 2019. This year's annual conference theme was "Learning democracy values and participation". Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) is an umbrella organization for 42 European organizations who is active in the field of education, training and youth. The annual conference included the high level panel Policy Discussion and breakout sessions was mainly devoted to the discussion of several important topics such as learning democracy, Global Citizenship Education (GCE) and promoting European values. During these sessions was emphasized the importance of building a more democratic and cohesive societies that are oriented towards global citizenship education, civic engagement and lifelong learning practices.