By Kate Alyzon Ramil, GEMMA 2009-2011
When I first received the invitation to attend the General Assembly, I was really excited and at the same time nervous. I did not know what to expect or what was expected of me. On the one hand, it was a time to reconnect to Europe and the rest of the EMA members, and on the other, it was a responsibility. How would I best contribute to the Assembly? How would I best represent my programme, GEMMA, and my region, South East Asia?
Arriving in Barcelona dissolved all the worries and the tiredness that I experienced all throughout the long journey. Some people discouraged me to attend since it was just a 2-day meeting and getting a visa was a tedious process, not to mention the cost of the trip. But, seeing 200 people who were mostly Programme Representatives from all over the world strengthen my feeling that my decision was right. I was one of the many who believe that being a Programme Representative is not just a title but a duty that we willingly take.
The 2-day meeting felt like a month for its fruitfulness and depth. With that short span, we managed to discuss relevant issues within EMA and beyond like the Statute of EMA, elections, changes in European Commission, and the parallel sessions. We had socials, too, to get to know each other in fun and creative ways like EMAzing Race, Tapas Night, World Café, and the Parade of Nations.
The election was an integral part of the GA. Not only the contenders for the positions of President and Vice President were capable of leading the Association but their vision, dedication and passion were truly inspiring. In the end, it was Leasa Weimer of the North American Chapter who won the Presidency; and Pavan Siriam of the Indian Chapter won as her Vice President.
The parallel sessions had both the interest groups and the regional groups. We had the opportunity to check different professional groups and committees to get to know EMA more intimately, and, in a way, to entice us to be more proactive which, I reckon, was effective.
The South East Asian Region, to which I belong, was a small but very diverse group. There were 9 of us in total: Edu Yuliardi, Ira Purnomo and Tesa Fiona Kaban from Indonesia; Carolyn Lee, Lex Tan Lih Yiang and Ansalm Ho from Malaysia; and Amil Tan, me and Shiella Balbutin from the Philippines. We discussed our plans for our region which was led by the EMASEA Vice President, Shiella, and the EMASEA Promotions Coordinator, Lex. We, of course, decided to take steps in strengthening our group by encouraging other members to also take the lead especially the countries in our region that were not represented in the last GA. We planned on a regional meeting and a continued aggressive promotion of Erasmus Mundus scholarships among the South East Asian students and professionals.
I could not also forget that during our South East Asian dinner, we were gracefully joined by the former President of EMA, Chunyu Liang, and the International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA) Publication Officer, Manel Millanes.
Attending the GA was like a pilgrimage and having an epiphany—that tiny voice that said, in Phil Cousineau’s words, “Now is the time to lead your ideal life.”
Images courtesy of EMA and SEA group members