My First Erasmus Mundus General Assembly

 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.

Friends across the nations – EMA GA attendees

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.

Representing the EMA South East Asia Chapter

Pinoy Erasmus Mundus in Barcelona: the author, Shiella Balbutin and Amil Tan (top) and snacks from home that they shared during the GA (bottom)

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

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Prague plays host to EMA’s 6th General Assembly

By: Shiella C. Balbutin, EMA Southeast Asia Chapter VP


The beautiful city of Prague, Czech Republic was the host of the Erasmus Mundus Association’s 6th General Assembly last June 22-23, 2012. The event was held at the Faculty of Education, Charles University.

Close to 160 participants from all over the world, who are members of the EMA Steering Committee, boards of EMA regional chapters, representatives of Erasmus Mundus courses, officers of the European Commission and other members of the association, gathered together for the annual event. As in the past, formal presentations and discussions are usual features at the GA. It opened with the welcome greetings from Radka Wilddova, Dean of the Faculty of Education of Charles University; Martine Dere from the Directorate General of Education and Culture of the European Commission; as well as from Jean Carlos Pelicano and Hady Abi-Nader, President and Vice-president of EMA.

Other presentations were from Jordi Curell, Director of Lifelong Learning: Higher Education and International Affairs of the European Commission; Katarina Nevedalova, member of the European Parliament and VP of the European Youth Forum; Jana Fiorito and Edith Genser, representatives from the Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Commission; and Tahia Devisscher, Erasmus Mundus Quality Advisory Board. Moreover, there was a discussion on the “Erasmus for All” proposal; voting session of the EMA statute; and the meetings of the service teams, professional networks and regional chapters.

Despite the packed two-day schedule, the GA also organized interesting social and cultural activities which delighted the participants. One of which was the “City Hunt”, conducted the day before the GA. During the game, participants were divided into groups and were given tasks to accomplish within a given period of time. It was a great way to establish camaraderie and to see the sights of Prague, albeit hurriedly.

The EMA-South East Asia Chapter Members from Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam

Other highlights of the event included the fellowship dinner on the boat while cruising along Vltava River and passing through Charles Bridge. The beautiful sunset and skyline of the city served as backdrop of the cruise.

The EMA-SEA VP presented the chapter’s accomplishments and plans during the “World Map Session”.

Moreover, it was a time of firsts. For the first time, the GA put the spotlight on the EMA Regional Chapters via the “World Map Session”. It featured the presentations of all chapter representatives wearing their traditional costumes. This certainly reinforced EMA’s rich cultural diversity. As VP of the South East Asia Chapter, I was tasked to introduce and present our chapter’s accomplishments and activities.

During “World Coffee Break”, the chapters showcased flags and delicacies from home (Shiella brought the famed Philippine dried mangoes)

Another first-time feature was the “World Coffee Break”. Prior to the event, we were requested to bring sweets from home and these were showcased and put on display at the chapter booths. It was a very interesting experience as the participants enjoyed sharing and eating the variety of food from different parts of the world. I brought the Philippines’ famous sweet dried mangoes and they were such big hits!

It was another productive and successful GA. It certainly proves that for all the members, finishing our EM courses is not the end but the beginning of a happy journey with EMA.


Read more about EMA alumna Shiella Balbutin’s Prague trip on her blog

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Second ACCESS Dialogue Event: “Mobility as an Instrument for Integration”

The Second Dialogue Event of the ACCESS Project was held in Manila on June 4th and 5th 2010.

The event was meant to encourage interregional dialogues on the specific subject of mobility from different perspectives. It was hosted by the University of the Philippines and organized by the ASEAN University Network (AUN).

Around 50 people took part in the event, including academic affairs executives and ICT experts from AUN member universities. EU HE experts and ASEF representatives were also present.

Among main conclusions, participants agreed that the development and improvement of European and ASEAN Credit Transfer Systems, and of their capacity to harmonise among themselves are fundamental to improve mobility at the ASEAN level and between the two regions. At the same time, ICTs were acknowledged as a relevant tool at the service of mobility in general and for such a reason a ground to be better explored.

View full report here

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July 30 meeting @ the Delegation of the European Commission


Ambassador Alistair MacDonald and Erasmus Mundus alumni met Erasmus Mundus undergraduate and Master’s students and scholars for the 2009-2010 intake at the delegation’s Makati office last July 30. The new students listened as the ambassador warmly welcomed the group, after which incoming student Marcial Batiancila delivered his remarks. EM alumni fresh from Europe, Tuesday Quiller and Francis Totanes, gave tips and talked about their experiences in Europe. EM country representative Jill Lopez gave an update on the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association; Abby Yao enumerated possible efforts on improving networking and visibility. The afternoon gave the students and alumni the chance to link up and work together for the benefit of all Filipino EM students.

We at the Pinoy Erasmus Mundus blog congratulate the new students and wish them all the best in their European journey. Itaas natin ang bandera ng Pilipinas sa Europa! Hope to hear from you soon.


Incoming Erasmus Mundus students


Showing their not-so-serious side

Alumni Abby, Vera, Francis, Tuesday and Jill with Ms. Thelma Gecolea

Alumni Abby, Vera, Francis, Tuesday and Jill with Ms. Thelma Gecolea

All together now

All together now

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Remarks from an incoming Pinoy Erasmus Mundus scholar


Incoming EM student Marcial Batiancila (left) and EM alumnus Francis Totanes (center) look on as Amb. MacDonald welcomes EM students and alumni

[Delivered during the pre-departure meeting at the EU Delegation of the Philippines, RCBC Tower 2, Makati City, July 30, 2009]

Your Excellency, Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, Thelma Gecolea (Public Affairs Officer of the delegation), Ms. Jill Lopez, EMA Country Representative, Fellow Erasmus Mundus Scholars, Ladies and Gentlemen—good afternoon. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to participate in this important event that recognizes the achievements of Filipinos for successfully competing in the most prestigious Erasmus Mundus Mobility Programme.

Indeed, the selection of students from third countries to join the programme was not that easy considering the high academic requirements including mastery/fluency of the English language and for some scholars—fluency in other European languages and also this is a competition taking into account the diversity of applicants from countries all over the world. So, what are our chances of being selected? The probability of being selected in the program is too slim. Despite of this, we are still fortunate that we have been selected as Erasmus Mundus scholars.

Erasmus Mundus is an interesting and relevant initiative of the European Union, responding to the challenges of higher education in Europe aiming at contributing positively to global development and of making Europe the most attractive region for higher education in the world. The creation of a European area for higher education and research and the globalization of higher education, have made it important to facilitate the access of students from third countries (including Philippines) to higher education in Europe.

There are several reasons why we applied for the scholarship programme; we have our own stories to tell too. Personally, continuing professional education in library and information science has always been one of the main ways leading to the realization of my academic and career goals. It has always been an integral part of my life because education plays a central role in innovation and economic growth as well as societal development. The opportunity to help people was not only a future job for all of us Erasmus Mundus scholars but it is our calling to be of service to humanity…to the Filipino people in particular. This is also the point in my life when I truly realize who I want to become and what I have to do to achieve it. I realize that as information professional I do have a social responsibility towards the practice of my profession and to the society in general.

Ever since, I have been aspiring to study abroad particularly in Europe and I am greatly fascinated with its colourful history and contributions to world culture and development. October 2008 when I applied for the International Master in DILL and 3 days after I got an e-mail telling me to submit all the needed documentation. April 21, 2009, another e-mail from DILL administration, notifying me that I was selected as one of the Erasmus Mundus Scholars in International Master in Digital Library Learning jointly offered by Oslo University College (Norway), Tallin University (Estonia), and Parma University (Italy). At first, I can not believe it and then I realized that this is God’s answer to one of my prayers. On the other hand, I felt very sad because I will be leaving my family, my work and most importantly my responsibility as Regional President of the Philippine Librarians association, Inc.-Southern Tagalog Region Librarians Council (PLAI-STRLC). But, I have to accept this and if not it would be a lost of opportunity for our country, the Philippines .

Moreover, I felt proud that of the 22,000 applicants from 166 countries a handful Filipinos has been selected to study in Europe . This is a rare privilege, as well as a responsibility. As Pinoy Erasmus Mundus scholars, we have also the responsibility to represent our country as its cultural ambassadors to European Union. There are a lot of challenges that awaits us when we come back here in our country.

At this point, I also would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you my fellow Erasmus Mundus scholars, Congratulations Kababayan! To the governing body of the European Union thru the Delegation, thank you for giving us the opportunity to take part on this wonderful and prestigious Erasmus Mundus Mobility Programme.

Indeed, the programme would greatly help us Filipinos in developing our potentials as professionals, provide us opportunities of learning new skills or gain insights on our chosen field of specialization and have a better understanding on our role in today’s global society. More so, we need such training in order to materialize our professional goals of not only learning new technology but be able to transfer whatever technology that we will be learning from Europe to our home country, the Philippines.

Thank you.

Marcial R. Batiancila

Incoming Student in International Master in Digital Library Learning, 2009-2011

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March 26 session @ the Delegation of the European Commission


Erasmus Mundus alumnae with Thelma Gecolea and prospective students

At the office of the delegation, Erasmus Mundus alumna Vera Horigue presented an overview of on coastal resource management in the Philippines and in the EU. This was followed by a discussion on possible EM promotional efforts chaired by country representative Jill Lopez. The March 26 meeting is the first in a series of quarterly sessions with presentations of EM alumni. Keep posted for schedules.

Jill introduces the presenter

Vera talks about coastal resources management issues
Vera talks about coastal resources management issues
Ambassador Alistair MacDonald makes a suggestion

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