Cultural Preparation in Mobilities

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Semper Avanti is sending, almost monthly, groups of young polish students of the Lower Silesia Region abroad for short-term internship experiences.

This action is the pivot of the “Youth and Labour market” project, one of the three pillars of Semper Avanti work, together with “Youth and Democracy” and “Youth and Tolerance” projects. The aim of this is to prepare students at their last year of school to the challenge of finding their first jobs and obtaining work experience.

In this framework the partnership with other organizations and political institutions (such as ‘EuPQua ECVET – European Partnership for Quality and Implementation of the European Credit System in VET’ or ‘IMOVE – Innovation for Mobility in VET: Public and Private Partnerships for sustainable mobility’) is increasing the opportunities of international exchanges.

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Especially remarkable is the collaboration with the Emilia Romagna region in Italy. Indeed Semper Avanti, in the last months, sent different groups of young people in the most important cities of the area, such as Bologna and Parma. The project is not limited only to the action of “sending” people but it involves also other activities. Between them it is crucial the pre-departure preparation which provides the essential tools that students will need. Usually the preparation includes around ten meetings of six hours each or generally a total of sixty hours. Here the main activity is English because every intern need to be able to communicate abroad using an international language focusing on the technical vocabulary interns will need on the working place. The second part of pre-departure meetings concerns the cultural preparation in order to make the cultural shock softer.

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Cultural shock is something to don’t underestimate. Indeed for young students that are sometimes at their first experience abroad it is not easy to deal suddenly with the distance from home and with a new environment with different customs and traditions with unknown people. For this reason a cultural presentation of the hosting country is necessary, describing the habits of the area, the rules and most of all the beauties to discover and visit, the food to taste and the situations to enjoy. Also a basic introduction to local language is necessary in order to let the students be able to ask information and get what they need. Last but not the list, is to create before the departure a friendly and cooperative environment between participants.

 This is not only a working experience but it influences all the aspects of daily life creating new friendships, new bounds with places, opening minds and giving analytical and practical tools that will be useful in every situation of the future life.14328955_10210943835060122_2125423943_n

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CREATING A NETWORK

In a previous post has been shown the importance and the benefits of cooperation, and a great example of it was the “i-Move program”. Today we’ll talk about “how to create a network” or how to organize in order work collaboratively.

A network implies the participation of at least 3 members, and many times happens to be a lot more. In case of i-Move, at first there are 11 members getting together but the network will probably grow up as it is opened to get more entities in. When so many organizations want to cooperate, at first it can be quite difficult. Although the main aim of the network will be the same for all the members, the “smaller objectives” can be different for everyone. Every member is different from each other and has its own needs, but when cooperating is important to “give and take” and to have clear what the aim of gathering together is.

Furthermore, an effective and well-defined organization is needed; the definition and division of tasks and workload, creating a good communication system, creating procedures for achieving the aim, defining procedures for assessing the whole process, etc.

Finally, the network needs to have a defined legal structure in order to proceed legally. The selection of such legal structure is often complicated; having a well defined aim of the network is helpful to begin, but there are multiple other aspects to take into account; number of employees, the selection and location of the headquarters, the seed capital required, the financial sources, and so on. Nevertheless, once again cooperating could be a “solution”; the collaboration of all the members when defining all those aspects is really helpful, as it enables to identify the legal structure that suits best for the network.blog_header

The iMove effect

It’s always difficult to explain iMove in few words and how it changed our way to work with IVET mobility. That’s because of the many technical aspects involved. So I though I could give readers a quick picture of the “iMove effect” just describing what actually happened in our context during the last few years.

I am from in Emilia-Romagna, one of the biggest regions of Italy with around 5 millions inhabitants. I work for Uniser, an organisation specialized in development and management of learning mobility.
Requests of support from VET schools for providing their students with internships experiences abroad through the Leonardo Programme were becoming more and more frequent.
So in 2011 we started researching how we could offer them the technical assistance they needed. At that time very few schools all over Emilia-Romagna were developing mobility projects and those who did were relying on voluntary work from their teachers. At the same time the workload required was consistent and hard to be covered with the management costs foreseen by the LLP programme. Of course we couldn’t take for granted that all schools would have seen their project approved, while it was pretty clear that many costs would have raised proportionally to the number of schools (applications management, accounting, reporting, etc.). As a result planning was difficult and the activity quite risky in terms of sustainability, but most of all a huge work had to be done to give mobility opportunities to only 10 schools while hundreds of them were sharing the same needs. It was early 2012 when that maybe another way was possible…

Between 2012 and 2014 in Emilia-Romagna just 2 projects for IVET mobility were approved involving some schools mainly from only one city in the whole region.
In February 2014 there’s the iMove kickoff meeting in Bologna. In late 2015, not even two years later we have a regional network with nearly 90 schools and training centers that we provided already with more than 500 mobilities, and it is only the beginning…

This is the “iMove effect” and Emilia-Romagna is not the only example of it. You’ll see more of them during the iMove conference in Hamburg, Germany, next 27th of November 2015.
Hope to see you there!