The Global Campus Alumni meeting on Friday 16 May 2014 was a unique event where graduates and current students of the Global Campus got together with the purpose of both strengthening the network of Alumni Associations and increasing the collaboration on a number of initiatives. After the welcome speech of Lydia Malmedie, Vice-President of the E.MAlumni, the address of EIUC President, Prof. Horst Fischer, touched upon the important role of the Alumni of acting as Ambassadors of the GC and the need to secure continuous financial support to the Global Campus project, points which were echoed by Jean-Louis Ville, Head of Unit DEVCO/B1 “Governance, Democracy, Gender, Human Rights” of the European Commission.
The meeting was the opportunity for all the GC Alumni Associations to examine the current state of play regarding the development of their network and the way forward in terms of further development. Important updates on the current legislative developments of the EC on human rights were also provided through a panel discussion on the human rights based approach. The human rights based approach (HRBA), as highlighted by a representative of DG DEVCO-European Commission, is not a new policy but rather a tool to better implement HR in all the steps of the HR project cycle management. A HRBA implies a fundamental rethinking of the development process: a paradigm shift away from seeing aid beneficiaries as passive ‘needs-fulfilling’ individuals to active ‘agents of change’ and duty-bearers.
The panel discussion was then followed by a brief update on the current activities of the GC provided by Valentina Abita, Project Manager of the GC. Friday 16th May coincided with the closing session of the Global Classroom, a weeklong event gathering students, professors and experts to discuss one international topic on HR, which this year focused on the Universal Periodic Review. The opening of the Global Classroom was articulated in an introduction to the topic, a keynote lecture and in a panel discussion. On the following days groups of professors and students of each RM made presentations on the implementation of the UPR in a number of countries of their region. She also illustrated the other joint activities of the GC, notably the GC research programme, the GC Internship programme, the exchange of professors and emphasized the crucial role of the GC Alumni in promoting the GC and in keeping the connection between the current and future students alive.
The General Assembly of the E.MAlumni was held back-to back the GCA on Saturday 17th May 2014. Cristiano Gianolla, President of the E.MAlumni and Florence Benoit-Rohmer, Secretary General of the GC recalled the geneses of the E.MAlumni Association and its progressive development. Professor Guy Harscher of the ULB University, in his speech called on the Alumni to promote human rights and make them a priority in the political agenda especially during the incoming European elections campaign.
Given that the elections of E.MAlumni are also approaching, an account of all the activities promoted was provided. Laura Pasquero, new Executive Officer of both E.MA Alumni and GC Alumni pointed to the importance of increasing the synergies on a number of initiatives of great potential such as the Career Service. The Career Service includes many activities of which the Mentoring programme, job listing, job rosters, database of resources and documentation on how to prepare a good application and interview. In particular, the Mentoring programme consists in pairing up old graduated and new graduates to give support in professional development, job searching and networking. How this service works and how Alumni can benefit from it is explained during the Career day, which takes place in January every year at the end of the first semester of E.MA students.
GCA and students then split up in different Working Groups on communication, fundraising and projects in order to throw around useful ideas to strengthen the network which were then shared in a plenary discussion. Both individual initiatives and projects of the Alumni and current students were also presented such as the support to the IDAHOT day on 17th May and the Migrants Matter campaign of the E.MA students.
At both the GCA and E.MAlumni GA, everybody acknowledged the energy and the enthusiasm of talented people keen on building strong bonds of solidarity and on serving important human rights causes.