Did you know that 2017 is a special year for the relationship between Europe and South East Asia? 2017 This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and 40 years of ASEAN-EU relations. For the occasion, the OCEANS Network (OCEANS) in collaboration with Erasmus Mundus Association (EMA) organized, under the ESAA flag, a special event targeting Erasmus+ alumni based in the ASEAN region, as well as the alumni from the SHARE project. SHARE stands for “European Union Support to Higher Education in ASEAN Region” and it is a credit mobility programme among ASEAN countries and between ASEAN and the EU, running from 2015 to 2018. Among the similarities with Erasmus+, SHARE has the objective of strengthen regional cooperation by enhancing the quality, regional competitiveness and internationalisation of higher education.
The event took place on 30th September in Bangkok, Thailand, and brought together 30 alumni from both SHARE programme and Erasmus+, including active members of the OCEANS Network, ESN and EMA and ESN. The initiative has benefitted from the endorsement of the EU Delegation to Thailand - with Charge’ d’Affairs a.i. Ms Luisa Ragher giving a vibrant opening speech - and the European Commission’s Adrian Veale, who delivered a warm, tailored video-message from Brussels. The morning was dedicated to introducing Erasmus+ and SHARE, with Ms. Karina Oratmangun (SHARE Scholarship Officer) presenting the latter, and with panel discussions on the role of alumni. During the afternoon, the participants joined 3 workshops focussing on: a) supporting the action of both Erasmus+ and SHARE alumni; b) challenges and opportunities for alumni empowerment in the ASEAN region, and; c) amplifying alumni’s voice in the ASEAN policy dialogue on higher education.
The dialogue was incredibly helpful to get Erasmus+ and SHARE alumni to know each other but it had also important practical recommendations. Firstly, to identify how SHARE can benefit from the experience of Erasmus+ alumni to perform activities such as supporting to address the challenges of higher education in their home countries, helping with the promotion of credit mobility programmes, establishing stronger networks with other stakeholders in the ASEAN region. Secondly, it has outlined possible paths forwards to empower alumni in the policy dialogue.
The event was possible thanks to the ESAA OYOE funding, and to the time that the organizers from OCEANS (Melania Lotti, Neringa Tumenite) and EMA (, Lucia Loposova, and Kate Ramil) volunteered to make the event a blast. To conclude the dialogue with some fun, participants had a chance to continue networking during joined a tasty Thai dinner and some the traditional Thai Tie-Dye activity and other outdoor actionivities the following day, kindly sponsored by EMA support.