NNA - On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme, the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon organised on 10 July a panel discussion on the topic of "youth mobility."
Erasmus began as an exchange programme that gave higher education students the opportunity of learning abroad. Over the past 30 years, it has grown bigger. Today, Erasmus+ is the EU exchange programme for education, training, youth and sport.
The panel discussion was introduced by Ambassador Christina Lassen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union. It involved three students who have returned from a study period in Europe made available through Erasmus+, in addition to the Chargé d'Affaires of the British Embassy, Mr Benjamin Wastnage, and the Head of International Affairs at the office of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Mrs Karma Ekmekji. The panel discussion was moderated by former minister Dr Ziad Baroud.
In her introductory word, Ambassador Lassen said: "Over the past 30 years, Erasmus has allowed more and more people to get involved. This programme is available provided that you are ready for this experience, which makes you discover a new culture and a new place. Through it you will build bridges between people and places. In short, your Erasmus experience will change your life."
The panellists and the audience addressed several aspects of youth mobility, including its impact on personal and professional development, how it can serve to promote active citizenship and to create "young citizens of the world," and the effect mobility has on the perception of cultural differences. The discussion then went on to tackle the wider topic of mobility and exchange between Lebanon and Europe, and how programmes such as Erasmus give young people an opportunity to be ambassadors of their own country.
Students explained how Erasmus+ experience helped them to change their perception of their own country and the world, to gain stronger communication skills and to grow in self-confidence and adaptability. They also underlined that this experience is not only beneficial for the personal and professional development of young persons, but also for the development of their communities.
Following the discussion, a presentation was made to launch new initiatives for the Erasmus alumni network, including a yearly networking event and the Facebook page of the Erasmus alumni in Lebanon.
Over the last 30 years, 9 million people have participated in the Erasmus programme, including Lebanese students and staff who studied, trained and gained experience abroad. Only in the last two years, 1,022 mobilities took place between Lebanon and the European Union: 773 from Lebanon going to the EU and 249 from the EU to Lebanon.