The Erasmus+ Student and Alumni Association (ESAA) General and Working Group Meeting took place on 24th – 27th of August 2017, in Tallinn University Conference Center, Estonia.
 
The representatives of the four member organizations (garagErasmus, Erasmus Student Network, OCEANS, and Erasmus Mundus Association) attended the meeting, as well as, ESAA Board members, representatives from the European Commission and from the Archimedes Foundation in Estonia. garagErasmus (gE) was represented by 17 members who reached Tallinn from 10 different countries.
 
On the first day, the ESAA Co-Chairs, Scott Darby and Apiyo Okwiri, opened the conference, followed by the welcome speech from the European Commission representative, Lloyd Huitson, who shared his personal Erasmus experience emphasizing the importance of the program and the life-long impact of it. In addition, he mentioned some of the initiatives European Commission is realizing to improve the application process and the program in general.
 
Next, the participants were divided into different groups attending the workshop sessions where different topics have been discussed regarding mobility, employability, identity, returning from mobility, ethical implications, and internationalizations.  After that followed a Panel Discussion on the topic “The Future of Mobility”, where there were given suggestions on improving, not only from the panel members but also from the audience. Orestis Matsoukas, the head of gE4Athens requested the support of the European Commission in financing and promoting Erasmus4Enterpreneurs.
 
Then, each of the Member Organizations presented their work and their initiatives. From gE, Carlo Bitetto, Director of Operations, informed participants about the achievements and the growth of the Foundation during this past year and the new upcoming projects. Moreover, he invited the other organizations to join and cooperate with gE for the new project, the Laissez-Passer, as a priority to change Europe and to give to the Erasmus Generation more chances to be heard in the daily life. He also talked about the new local gE4s that have been approved during this last year. Furthermore, various ESAA initiatives were presented such as Training for Erasmus Trainers held recently in Budapest, Hungary, the Incubator for Entrepreneurs, ESAA for Refugees, Survey, and ESAA Magazine.
 
As usual, also this year many awards have been assigned as a recognition of the contribution and strong commitment of the ESAA members. Two gE members, Carlo Bitteto and Cosmin Dan got an ESAA Award of Excellence.
 
On Saturday, few hours were reserved to discuss internally for each of the umbrella Member Organizations. gE members talked about their role in ESAA and vice versa, the involvement of each individual on the new projects, the future of the association, and suggestions for improvements. The meeting was led by Francesco Cappè, gE President, and Carlo Bitteto, gE Director of Operations who informed the members about the achievements reached so far, the enlargement of the association with new local gE4s joining continuously, and the increased interest from many countries.  
 
The Working Groups members continued the agenda for one more day. The various Working Groups, (Event, Career Development, Erasmus+ Promotions, and Communications) planned the upcoming months, elaborated on the new initiatives to be taken, and the ways to develop. In the meanwhile, a meeting of the ESAA Board Members was held.
The ESAA General Meeting served as a way for networking as well, where members from different umbrella organizations could be able to exchange ideas on improving the mobility experience, and open the doors for cooperation and support on the future projects.
 
gE delegation present at the event: Francesco Cappè, Fabrizio Bitetto, Alessandra Palmulli, Andrea Filippini, Carlo Bitetto, Cosmin Dan, Velimir Tasic, Dobrawa Koszelak, Linas Starselskis, Fabrizio Ippoliti, Orestis Matsoukas, Alejandro Florido, Susana Antonia Cabrera Yeto, Esperanza Salmeron, Eriselda Barjamaj, Simone Papa.
 
Written by Eriselda Barjamaj