"Erasmus UPgrade" Conference Belgrade, Serbia

ESN BelUPgrade, the local section of Erasmus Student Network in Belgrade (Serbia), received a grant from ESAA funding scheme to organise Erasmus+ promotion conference under the name Erasmus Upgrade, held on the 1st of November 2016.
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The aim of this conference was to raise awareness about the professional and educational benefits that Erasmus+ brings to its participants and to promote Erasmus+ programme as such. In Serbia where Erasmus+ is not as known as in EU countries, it is important to invest in the good quality promotion of the Erasmus+ to ensure that students have the right information and that they are aware of the benefits of the programme.

This one-day event had three parts. The first part was the conference, held at the EU Info centre in Belgrade. Jovana Stanković, current Treasurer of ESN AISBL, was the moderator of the conference. She made the introduction to the topic presenting herself, her role in ESN and ESAA and how things have improved in this area since she founded ESN BelUPgrade back in 2013. She introduced other speakers as well. Ljubica Marković, a team leader of EU Info centre, wished a warm welcome to all the particpants and she explained why it is important to continue promoting Erasmus+ in Serbia. Then, Sofija Petrović on behalf of Tempus Foundation – Erasmus+ Office in Serbia held a presentation about Erasmus+ and the engagement of Serbia in this programme. Davide Capecchi, a former president of ESN AISBL, talked about the importance of Erasmus+ based on his personal oppinion and professional experience. After that we heard personal experiences from Bojana Zimonjić, Erasmus+ Alumni, and Nemanja Marjanović, CEEPUS Alumni. The first part of the conference was closed with two presentations: about the role of ESN in promoting mobility and its benefits from the perspective of local association of ESN by Marija Sarajlić, Vice President of ESN BelUPgrade and Federica Giordano, President of ESN Roma Luiss, and the other one was about what ESAA and its member organisations do to promote Erasmus+ by Marija Papić, a member of the Social Projects Working group in CMS. After the coffee break there was the panel discussion about different topics such as: how can mobility and volunteering experience help Serbian youth be more employable, how can we motivate students and young people to undergo an exchange experience, what are the main problems after the mobility period and how can we overcome them, how can we celebrate the anniversary of Erasmus+, etc.

The conference was very successful. There were around 50 participants. Our main partner was EU Info centre and we were supported by KOMS (National Youth Council in Serbia). The audience consisted of many representatives of different institutions that we wanted to encourage them to give us their opinion, but also hearing some new ideas and trying to implement them, if possible. We had representatives of three universities that we collaborate with: University of Belgrade, University of Arts in Belgrade and Singidunum University; representatives of Tempus Foundation – Erasmus+ Office in Serbia; representatives of the Center for Career Development of the University of Belgrade; representative of the International Relations Office of the Faculty of Economics; students from other cities such as Novi Sad and Kosovska Mitrovica; representatives of various student parliaments from different universities; student organisations (ELSA, OSSI); European Movement in Serbia and many other students and high school pupils who wanted to hear more about Erasmus+.

The second part of the event was the workshop on how to write a CV and motivational letter, essential documents when applying for an exchange, and how to put your Erasmus experience in them after the mobility period. It was held in the room of the Office for Youth by Marija Papić and Bojana Zimonjić. The number of participants was 25 and it was limited to ensure the quality of the workshop.

The third part was the networking event organised in the rooms of the Office for Youth. ESNers and members of other student organisations were invited to join this event and get to know other young people and exchange ideas and experiences with them.

We are very thankful to ESAA for recognising the potential of our project and for funding it. We believe that it was very successful and that we managed to address Serbian youth better and show them some new perspectives of the Erasmus+ programme. During the conference we had a short visit of the EU delegates who said that one of their main priorities in Serbia is to foster the youth engagement through Erasmus+ programme as they believe it would be the most efficient way to build the strong base for the future of our country.

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