The third Social Inclusion Leaders Meeting and the Social Dimension of Erasmus+ conference took place in Brussels between the 11th and 15th October and gathered over 60 ESN volunteers who advocate for social inclusion in our organisation, both on the local and national levels. The event was organised by the collaboration of two Belgian sections, ESN VUB EhB Brussels and ESN Saint-Louis Brussels.
During the two day training followed by a two-day conference, the participants had the opportunity to gain knowledge, ideas and inspiration, with an aim to increase the social impact of the network and prepare for the year ahead. A wide variety of workshops organised by the current and former International Social Inclusion Teams; Wim Gabriels, Kaspars Albenica, Elisavet Rozaki, Talip Dogan, Nicolò Bersanelli, Josipa Friscic, Anna Demiri and Elena Iamboglo, and two ESN Trainers; Florian Heinrichs and Tobias Vornhoit helped them broaden their skills through non-formal education. The topics focused on social inclusion, intercultural understanding, organising quality activities and measuring impact.
Moreover, in an effort to bring the participants closer to the local community, an Erasmus in Schools activity was organised at two local schools, Atheneum Brussel and Centre Scolaire Notre-Dame de la Sagesse. The students, aged 16-18, interacted with ESN volunteers, learned more about the social obstacles that people face around the world and were informed about the benefits of the Erasmus+ programme.
Also, as part of the programme, a 3-hour Human Library activity featured local organisations that have a positive impact on society: L'olivier, 1toi2Age, Genres Pluriels and Amnesty International BE. The goal of this activity was to give the participants inspiration and the opportunity to ask questions to the representatives of the organisations.
During the Social Dimension of Erasmus+ conference, the participants had the chance to learn more about the results of the SocialErasmus+ project which, for the past two years, has focused on the learning experience of international students during their participation at volunteering activities. A variety of speakers shared their perspectives on widening participation in the Erasmus+ programme and how to make exchange programmes more inclusive.
“The Social Inclusion Leaders Meeting and the Social Dimension of Erasmus+ conference were a volunteering experience made by a group of people willing to welcome inclusion and best practices sharing in the heart of our network and of Europe. We were volunteers creating safe spaces for other volunteers and making every step inclusive to encourage the learning process. For the Organising Committee, SILM was an opportunity of sharing learning experiences, pushing ourselves to the core of inclusion and creating new scenarios for a greener and more inclusive future. And the whole process was imprinted by teamwork and caring. We could not have imagined another way of creating this event. “ - Sira Inchusta Carrillo, Head of the Organising Committee
Finally, the event was a perfect opportunity for the ESN volunteers to work together, share ideas and prepare for the Social Inclusion Days, the two-week initiative which will take place between the 20th of November and the 4th of December.
"To create a more cohesive society, we need to empower a more diverse group of students to go abroad and to be closely engaged with the community. The seminar on the Social Dimension of Erasmus+ bridged this by bringing together students, schools, universities, policymakers to make the first steps in this direction.” - Wim Gabriels, Project Officer of the Erasmus Student Network