ESAA events in Bonn.
Happy New Year every ESAA member! The year 2018 was important as the Erasmus+ Students and Alumni Alliance (ESAA) has been brought back on track and is ready to launch new actions. With the launch of new 2019 ESAA projects a few weeks ago, ESAA members gathered at GSI (Gustav-Stresemann Institut) in Bonn, Germany to participate in various ESAA meetings. Everyone was excited to meet again as well as to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere together!
First, ESAA Board and task force groups had a meeting to discuss the plan of the activities and strategy for the upcoming year. Both the Board and Task Force members met beforehand on the 13th, then Task Force members started their meeting on the 14th of December. It was great to meet the previous working group members and all the new TF members and also to have a joint session with the board, service-provider and other TFs to discuss the roles and tasks and to develop team building.
ESAA Board Meeting
On the first day, the board met with the EC to discuss the ESAA projects, budgets, and decision-making process, timeline, and challenges of ESAA. Afterwards, the board had an outreach meeting with local partners, BMBF and DADD. On the remaining days, the board reviewed the upcoming contracts and checked the details with the service-provider, reviewed and agreed on the MoU(Memorandum of Understanding) between the four MOs(member organisations), discussed the ESAA projects, including cross-cutting projects of each MO, and planned the forthcoming events of 2019.
Task Force Meeting
1. Communication Task Force
The ESAA Comm. TF is responsible to enhance communication internally and externally, with the aim of increasing the visibility of ESAA and the Erasmus+ Programme. As ESAA finally has a service-provider, the communication team discussed the actions, channels, and practices for the comm. TF, including social media, website, magazine and other tasks.
The reached consensus was that there will be four different social media channels for ESAA - Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In addition we created the official hashtag '#ESAAeu' which will be integrated into different channels. Also, our new website will be live soon after coworking with the service-provider. This will be great to increase ESAA's visibility online and to promote ESAA events and projects to a broader audience.
The Communications team also took pictures at the event which will be used on social media in the future and discussed the strategy of how to accelerate the communication channels.
2. Project Officers' Task Force
The Project Officers TF had a very busy but productive weekend working on 87 applications received for the ESAA projects call available to members of all four MOs of ESAA. A big part of what the TF worked on during the meeting was creating an eligibility checklist, which was then used to go through every application verifying its validity. Furthermore, the TF followed up with applicants of projects which needed further clarifications bringing the number down to 66 eligible applications.
- All eligible and non-eligible applicants were then informed about the status of their application. Also, TF worked on the database.
- Updated and finalised the evaluation rubric to be sent out to the evaluators. The TF also assigned evaluators to each project based on the evaluator's experience, affiliation to their member organisation and expertise. Finally, the e-mails to all evaluators containing their assignments were sent out.
To conclude the meeting, the TF created a list of all the lessons learned from the first round of the open call for ESAA projects which will be used to improve and prepare the second call.
3. Capacity Building Task Force
Capacity Building TF members discussed a possible development of a 'pool of trainer' registry to utilize for future ESAA events. They developed the survey to include information such as location, organisation, remuneration, profile, topic/expertise. Also, each representative of each MO will encourage their members who have experience as a trainer to register in this form. It still needs to be discussed on how to embed it on the website as it currently is in Google Excel format. The TF planned to launch it at the beginning of January.
For the training for ESAA trainers, there was the introduction of ESAA projects and the achievement that ESAA is aiming for - four clusters have to be aligned: Strengthening Higher Education Quality, Spreading Erasmus+ and Widening Participation, Increasing Social Inclusion, Empowerment, and Participation, Capacity Building. The trainers learned how to apply for ESAA Projects Open Call and how to meet the requirements of the project's application. Also, they developed their own projects with team members, pitching it in front of the audience.
"The internal training we had in Bonn was extremely informative and useful for our projects' implementation in 2019. The international background of the participants has made this event very diverse and everyone had new, creative ideas. We had a great team to work with on common projects and received many tips regarding the programme and successful project management."
After the meetings, ESAA members also went to Bonn Christmas market altogether and had a lot of fun with Christmas food and mulled wines. Overall, the meeting was very successful by meeting all members and discussing important issues for the 2019 plan. Also, it was really great to have several meetings on the same day and in the same place as more ESAA members could meet altogether. As we just announced the second call for ESAA project, we are looking forward to encouraging collaboration across ESAA Member Organisations and to advance ESAA's mission!