The Erasmus+ Alumni Retreat Workshop was a three days event. It was hosted at the presidency conference room of Abdelmalek Essaadi University – Tetouan, Morocco. The event was organized by the ESAA program and funded by the European Union. The Vice President Doctor Bouchta El Moumni inaugurated the event along with Doctor Latifa Daadaoui, the head of NEO-Morocco. A speech was delivered by the formers of the event, namely Ms. Isabelle Eberz as a representor of OCEANS network, Ms. Mathilde Lafage as the ambassador of ESN community and Mr Abdeltif El Ouahrani, the E+ARW project coordinator.
The purpose behind the workshop days is to develop the capacity of Erasmus+ alumni in Morocco by establishing a sustainable Erasmus+ Community. Additionally, it aims to spread Erasmus+ opportunities among the students and the professional corps, ensure equal access to the Erasmus+ programs, strengthen quality assurance in higher educational institutions and increase soft skills, leadership, innovation, and employability of Erasmus+ Alumni.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) designates quality audit as a three-part process. One shall first check the suitability of the planned quality procedures in kinship to the stated objectives. Then comes the conformity of the actual quality activities with the plans, and finally, the effectiveness of the activities in achieving the stated objectives. This ‘quality loop’ is often cited to the initials OADRI (Objectives, Approach, Deployment, Results, and Improvement). Following this statement, the ODARI process was being deployed by the formers present during the workshop days, adapting it with the 20 selected alumni participants which were selected with an equal quota of gender.
Day 1 (Thursday, 5th December 2019):
After the key-note speech and the NEO gift presented by Doctor Latifa Daadaoui and her team, Hatim Elotmani and Imane Hamza, to the presidency of Abdelmalek Essaadi University, the two paralleled workshops were launched. The first one was inclusive to the University Staff, and its purpose was to introduce them to the available Erasmus+ programs and build their capacity in negotiating new projects and new collaborations.
The second workshop was exclusive for the 20 newly selected alumni, and it was monitored by Ms. Isabelle Eberz, Ms. Flóra Bajnay, Ms. Neringa Tumenaite, and Ms. Mathilde Lafage. The Alumni introduced themselves and talked about both their personal achievements and their previous Erasmus experiences. An introduction on different network models was given, ESN, OCEANS, EMA, and GARAGERASMUS. It was a session where Alumni were asked to develop a conceptual framework on a Moroccan student community, based on the four models presented, with a special focus on moving factors such as education and youth, culture, social inclusion, skills and employability, environment and sustainability, health and well-being. A lot of ideas were generated indeed, and the exchange between the group members was very successful.
The afternoon session was an open Erasmus + information session for students of the region. The session was animated by Mr. Abdelatif El Ouahrani, and Hatim Elotmani. It was an incentive session where Erasmus + projects were displayed, the key actions; Erasmus + Mobility, Erasmus + cooperation for innovation and exchange of good practices, Erasmus + support for policy reform, and Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree. Later on, some tips and tricks on how and where to apply and benefit from these programs were presented. Testimonials of Alumni were shared, paving a way to a question/answer session where the audience interacted positively.
Day 2 (Friday, 6th December 2019):
The workshop held by Flóra Bajnay and Mathilde Lafage was on what project management is, what challenges it comes with, its tools, its principles and the basis behind it. Additionally, the participants were taught how to understand, develop, write and manage projects within the ESAA clusters. The latest are about strengthening quality assurance in higher educational institutions, spreading Erasmus+ opportunities and widening participations, working on social inclusion, empowerment and effective participation, and last capacity building. That was from a theoretical point of view. The thematic was implemented by a practical project foundation: The Erasmus Moroccan Network. The 20 participants had the occasion to brainstorm, using the SWOT method, along with the four ESAA formers for about 10-15mins. The team ended up filling B.O.B. (Best Of the Best) with many conceptions, values, goals, and requirements to create this newly baby organization.
After setting a common ground, the participants were divided into three sub-groups in order to expand on the project within ESAA clusters and sub-components. These groups were:
Team 1: Social Media and Communication;
Team 2: Structure and Framework;
Team 3: Project Ideas Management.
The participants were asked later on in the afternoon to pitch their ideas, explain them, and discuss them with the larger group. The team was a productive and hegemonic one. Participants had different backgrounds, and came from different disciplines, which made of the session an interchangeable one, and the team members worked in total concordance. The genesis was there, and the teams had to wrap up all what has been said as a one-project to present.
Day 3 (Saturday, 7th December 2019)
The opening session of the last day was as an entertaining game; it made the group interact, warm up, and it cooled the environment. The monitoring session was of Neringa Tumenaite, and Isabelle Eberz. The session was mainly on advocacy skills and how to do negotiations in favour of EMN. The key points were as follows:
- Have SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound ones. What do I want to accomplish? Why is this goal important? Who is involved? Where is it located? Which resources or limits are involved? How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished? How can I accomplish this goal? How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors? Does this seem worthwhile? Is this the right time? Does this match our other efforts/needs? Am I the right person to reach this goal? Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment? When? What can I do six months from now? What can I do six weeks from now? What can I do today?
- Task forces focus on social media and promotion, Erasmus awareness days and informative lectures, connection with professional alumni and widening the community, and finally student guidelines and tutoring.
- Structure of the board of directors and assigning their tasks. The linear structure was adopted by the team and labels were put accordingly. And the community’s label was agreed upon: Erasmus Moroccan Network. The team also agreed on what channels to use in the promotion process, on taking over the old Erasmus Morocco Community and Alumni Alliances platforms and adequating it to the new situation, and the communicative tools, both intrinsic and extrinsic, to use.
- Participants gave elevator pitches on themselves and their plans of action were staged and broached.
- The BOD was elected by the participants; charges, duties, and commissions were delegated, accordingly.
The Board of Directors is constituted of a Secretary General, a Chair, and four Departments with their Deputies. The National alpha team in kind:
- Chair: Zarouk Mohamed Yassine
- Secretary General: El Jaï Marwa
- Head of Human Resources Department: Ardouni Meriem
- Deputy-head of Human Resources Department: Chriatt Ali
- Head of Communication and Marketing Department: Qassar Chaimae
- Deputy-head of Communication and Marketing Department: Belhajali Salma
- Head of Project Management Department: Zidani Karima
- Deputy-head of Project Management Department: Errais Reda
- Head of Finance Department: Ouazzani Touhami Mohammed
- Deputy-head of Finance Department: Ardouni Meriem
The closing ceremony was animated by Mr. Abdeltif El Ouahrani. A ceremony to award certificates took place recognising the efforts of Alumni, former participants, and committee organizing staff. Farewells were pronounced. Agreements on working on local offices and branches of the EMN project were made, group pictures were taken, and interviews were done.
Many thanks to the Erasmus+ Student and Alumni Alliance for the initiative taken. Special thanks go to the corporal staff of Abdelmalek Essaadi University, especially, Doctor Mohammed Errami, President of UAE-Morocco, and his Vice-President, Doctor Bouchta El Moumni for their remarkable cooperation. Words of thanks shall be addressed to the European Union and Mr. Alessio Cappellani, Minister Counsellor, and Deputy-Head of the EU Delegation in Rabat, for their support.
Thanks go both to the Alumni selected for their fruitful outcomes and their sense of commitment as well as the four ESAA trainers, namely Ms. Isabelle Eberz, Ms. Flóra Bajnay, Ms. Neringa Tumenaite, and Ms. Mathilde Lafage, for smoothing, monitoring, tutoring, and advising the participants with their expertise.
Finally, The efforts of the organizing committee: Mr. Abdeltif El Ouahrani (E+ARW coordinator), Mrs. Ouassima Lamriout, Ms. Mariem Ahechti, Mr. Jalal Kassout , Ms. Sara Lamriouat , and Mr. Bilal El Fassi, are acknowledged for the amazing work they have accomplished. Without them all, the event would not have been a pure success!