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 Particpation in EMA activities in 2009

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Kostya

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Number of posts : 70
Age : 37
Localisation : Swindon, UK
Registration date : 2007-04-21

PostSubject: Particpation in EMA activities in 2009   Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:55 pm

Here you can find Kostya's desciption and impressions of his participation in the meeting of Erasmus Mundus Alumni and Students Association in Lithuania in 2009. Feel free to ask any questions or post any comments by clinking on the Post Reply buttons
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Kostya

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Number of posts : 70
Age : 37
Localisation : Swindon, UK
Registration date : 2007-04-21

PostSubject: Desciption and impressions   Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:56 pm

As some of you may already know I took part in the EMA meeting (the meeting of the Erasmus Mundus Alumni and Students Association) in June 2009 in Vilnius in Lithuania. It was a nicely-organized event and I had a chance to meet some big bosses from Brussels who are responsible for the Erasmus Mundus program and also some students and graduates of the other Erasmus Mundus courses.

Originally I was not planning to go and somebody else was elected to go there, but unfortunately that person could not get the Schengen visa on time (as Lithuania seems to be quite a bureaucratic country and it took Vilnius University ages to organize the invitation which would be acceptable by the Consulate in London and eventually it was late to do anything about this for that person), the second runner up in the election of our course representative could not go there at such a short notice. The CB of EAAA did try to find somebody who could go, but at a such a short notice the third person we asked then – Vikram could not go as per the advice of the dentist (he had dental surgery right on the eve of this event). The EMA had a limit of how much money they could provide for the travel and 6 days before the event, the tickets for Ryanair and other expenses (bus in Lithuania) already were costing 450 euroes, which was the sum EMA was ready to reimburse for the travel expenses. I had the visa to go there and the decision was taken that I go there.

I did not regret this at all, of course. It was quite a quick trip and I had to take some time off work, but it was definitely worth it.

During the event I met with some big bosses from Brussels: Koen Nomden from the Executive Agency from Brussels was one of this people. This Agency is responsible for running of the Erasmus Mundus program. There is an interview with him in the latest issue of EMAnate (issue 03). Please see page 9 of the Magazine. You can download electronic copy of the magazine from here: http://www.em-a.eu/fileadmin/content/Emanate/EMANATE_Fall_2009.pdf

Also I could meet with representatives of other Erasmus Mundus courses. It was very nice to discuss the advantages and difficulties of EuroAquae with them and compare EuroAquae with their programmes. People who were taking part in the conference, lived in several EU countries and were from various background, so I had lots of topic to discuss with them.

Also I understood that EuroAquae, being a course that unites five universities is very unique. I am sure it will be quite hard to find a similar course (in the number of “united” universities) among the other MSc courses. I did not meet anybody from such course. I think the maximum number of universities which were united under one Erasmus Mundus program whose representative I met at the event was 4 and as far as I remember this program was not giving a joint degree, just four multiple degrees.

Therefore the problems with the joint degrees that EuroAquae may be having are quite unique. Koen seemed to be quite aware of our degree situation, which was already a step forward. I once again underlined the difficulty the graduates are having with this, and I understood that they are working into solving these issues, but the problem seems quite complex etc (due to the lack of the provision in the EU legislation: i.e. there is no description as to how a joint degree should look like, but it mentioned that such degrees can be given etc – so we are legal with our degrees, but nobody knows how the official paper should look like).

The event lasted two days – Friday and Saturday. I arrived to Kaunas in the evening of Thursday 4th of June. Already on the Ryanair flight from Stansted I met some Erasmus Mundus students. It was hard not to notice them: young, different nationalities, intelligent Smile and talking about their EU activities. The bus from Kaunas to Vilnius arrived at around midnight and then me and another Erasmus Mundus student who was on the same flight as me walked to our hotel which was in the northern part of Vilnius (45 minutes walk from the train station where the airport”shuttle” dropped us off). The hotel was very nice, not 5-star, but I was alone in the room and there was a bathroom inside and the breakfast in the morning was provided. For such a short trip you do not need more really.

Next morning there were some presentations: given by the rector of the Vilnius University, a very nice guy, who at some point during his career welcomed Queen Elizabeth II, current Georgian and Ukrainian presidents and other very important people in this world to the university and showed them around. The university is located not far from the palace which is the working place of the Lithuanian president. Just before June 2009 Lithuania had elections and a female candidate, Iron Lady of Lithuania, who studied in St Petersburg in Russia (then USSR), my home town, was elected. She is the first female head of state of Lithuania. One of the Lithuanian students I talked to was quite happy that she was elected.

Anyway, the other presentations that morning included a welcome speech by the head of the international relationships department of the University. This department was the main organizer from the Lithuanian side. I think there was a welcome speech by somebody from Brussels and the then-EMA president: Hanneke Luth. After this there were lots of voting sessions during which the MSc representatives (including myself) were voting for different amendments to the constitution of EMA. One of the most significant changes was that at the next meetings the observers (those who were not elected as their MSc representatives, but still wanted to attend and arrived to the event) can vote for certain aspects of the amendments. More information about this side of the event as well as some other aspects one can read in the recent issue (Issue No 3) of EMAnate – page 4.

In the evening there was an excursion around Vilnius organized by the Lithuanian students. It was a nice excursion where we visited most of the sights of Vilnius. It is quite a small town, so in one evening you can see its main attractions from outside. Then there was a dinner at the University which some Lithuanian students attended and then all people went to explore local pubs. Due to Lithuania being Russia’s neighbour I had lots of common topics to discuss with Lithuanian students. Also even though I tried not to, I found out that I can sometimes get by without using English on the streets of Lithuanian capital (most people spoke Russian), especially at the train station, however with younger people and especially other non-Lithuanian students English was the only language for communication.

On Saturday morning there were presentations by the Service Teams (Magazine, Newsletter, Policy etc). The EMA has several service teams, which are responsible for providing a certain aspect of services by the association: IT service for e-voting, preparation of the newsletters, conferences etc. The representatives of the Erasmus Mundus courses were expected to join one of the service teams and the morning presentations was a chance for us to learn more about the service teams. Since I alongside with Anna Bozhko (Gen 1) and Hossein Rezaei (Gen 2) was already submitting one article to the very first issue of EMAnate (http://www.em-a.eu/fileadmin/content/Emanate_Issue_1_FINAL.pdf, see the very last page) and I like writing (as you may have noticed by this message Smile), I decided to join the Magazine team. I hope you have already noticed my article in the third issue of EMAnate (please see the link at the fourth paragraph from the beginning). My article is on Page 13 there. By the way EuroAquae program is also mentioned in another place of this issue of the magazine. Hope you will find where.

In the afternoon there were elections of the president of EMA and the Vice-President of EMA as the terms for the previous president and vice-president were expiring then. The vice-president, Ricardo Chavez, has been reelected and the new EMA’s president now is Chunyu Liang. It was nice to see the debates and questions and answers session for these positions. Unfortunately the previous president (Hanneke Luth) of EMA did not take part in the elections. Me and Hossein Rezaei were in touch with Hanneke when Generation Three of EuroAquae had some UK visa issue and she was very helpful. Both the current President and Vice-President are very nice people and I think EMA will gain a lot by having them in the leading positions.

For the last evening in Lithuania, the international office of the University in Lithuania, has organized a short trip outside of Vilnius for a dinner in a restaurant. The food was very nice and there was also some folklore dancing there which created very informal setting for the meeting.

On Sunday, I had most of the day for sight-seeing in Vilnius by myself. Unfortunately it was quite a rainy day, but I enjoyed walking on the streets of Vilnius. At least three times I met some other people from the EMA meeting as lots of people were staying for at least another day in Lithuania and some even for several days, although Saturday night was the last night for which EMA was providing accomodation.

During such events you are bound to meet somebody from the same country as yourself. I met quite a few Russian speaking people at the event and my number of Facebook friends increased after the trip to Lithuania. Hopefully I will be able to meet this people in the future in real life and not only in Facebook. A day before the conference started – on Thursday, a CIS Chapter of EMA was launched. CIS stands for the Commonwealth of Independent States, which unites most of the countries of the former USSR. I was invited to take part in the Launch event, however I could not afford taking so much leave from work then. I met lots of the people from the CIS during the event, which was very nice. Besides the CIS Chapter there is also a Chinese Chapter which is very active. The Vice-President is overseeing the creation of the Regional Chapters and one can learn more these chapters from the EMA website (http://www.em-a.eu/home.html).

In the evening of the 7th of June (Sunday), I took my SAS flight to London with a transfer in Copenhagen. On both legs of the journey there were some other people from the conference, therefore the time during the flights and in Copenhagen airport “flew by” very fast as we ended up talking.

To conclude I would like to say, taking part in such events is very useful. It is beneficial both for you and for the EuroAquae program. It helps with the promotion of the course and also helps the whole EuroAquae community raise their issues at the higher level (almost Brussels) through the elected representatives.

The event was mainly organized by the EMA with the help of the service provider for the EMA appointed by the EU commision. The service provider is located in Germany. If you are elected a representative of our course, then you will most likely be dealing with somebody from the service provider when arranging the invitations and clarifying questions about pruchasing your flight tickets and getting reimbursements etc.

I hope you did not get bored reading this.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Kostya Vasilyev
Generation Two of EuroAquae
Former vice-president of EAAA
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Kostya

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Number of posts : 70
Age : 37
Localisation : Swindon, UK
Registration date : 2007-04-21

PostSubject: Some pictures from the event on Facebook   Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:44 pm

I have added some pictures onto EuroAquae's Facebook page. You can start watching them by clicking here. You need to have a facebook account to watch them.
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