Erasmus+ North-South Visit to Agadir

In April 2016, I had the pleasure of visiting one of our partner universities, Ibn Zohr University in Agadir, Morocco, under the auspices of the ERASMUS+ Global Mobility Program. As the first UEF teacher participating in the Program, this visit provided many new experiences and enhanced my understanding of higher education in the region. It was even more pleasurable to visit the university and its new Ait Melloul campus as my host was Dr Kamal Sbiri, an UEF alumnus who is now Assistant Professor of English and the Director of the Charif Al Idrissi Research Center on Transnational Migration.

My visit consisted of a series of guest lectures on postcolonial hybridities with particular reference to Anglophone Arab literature and cultural theory. The topics were selected to stimulate the staff and students by introducing current perspectives and research trends. The issues of global mobility, migration, and cultural encounters are also central to the research profiles at both universities, which offers further collaboration opportunities. The lectures were well attended and they were followed with particularly lively discussions and questions from the floor. Issues of migration are central to contemporary Morocco, both because of traditional labour migration to Europe but also because the routes of contemporary sub-Saharan migration towards the North pass through the nation. Borders and border-crossings are then a part of everyday experience, evident in the number of forced migrants in towns like Agadir. Continue reading Erasmus+ North-South Visit to Agadir

Friends before funds

Just when I thought that my last visit to Finland was the best ever, there happens another one, which outshines all those before! My fifth time in this amazing country, again to Joensuu, has really been special in so many ways. We, international relations officers, or as my colleague Kirsi nicely puts it – international coordinators, have a special gift (and duty!) to connect the peoples, education and cultures, and itchy feet ready to move on. Thanks to the long-standing friendship, trust and collaboration between the University of Novi Sad and University of Eastern Finland, we earned our Erasmus Plus KA1 mobility project, which gave me the wings to fly to UEF Joensuu Campus.

Seven days only seem enough to get the job done, but it always turns out that you could use more. This time too… Many meetings, many visits to various departments, schools, talking to colleagues and UEF students, getting to know how the UEF system works – all squeezed into tight schedule. However, the pieces of the UEF puzzle fell nicely into place and I am now able to recognize the solid structure, the purposefully shaped activities, the major challenges and strategic solutions, the striving, the innovative ideas, the potential, all topped off with amazing enthusiasm that my colleagues radiate. Buzzing international spirit is present all around the campus and I have to admit that I was a bit envious for those 900 incoming students that study at UEF. No doubt, this speaks in favour of the high quality education and services available. We share similar problems, we recognize the same values, but the solutions are different and there is plenty of room to learn from each other. I think I caught a glimpse of the wonderfully simple modus operandi of the UEF – no wasting – neither the people, nor the time, nor skills, but rather using them to the benefit of all. It really is a State of the Smart. 🙂 Continue reading Friends before funds