30 years already since the European Commission, under Jacques Delors, launched the ERASMUS programme, with the aim of encouraging student mobility across what was a European Community of twelve member states at the time!
Three decades, over nine million direct beneficiaries and thirteen other member states later, ERASMUS+, as it is now called, has become one of the uncontested success stories of European integration. For ESSCA, as an institution of higher education that has always been characterised by an international outlook and European open-mindedness, it was a moral duty to celebrate the 30th birthday of this initiative named after the great humanist thinker of the Renaissance who was himself extraordinarily mobile across the entire continent during his outstanding academic career.
ESSCA’s lively anniversary celebration was simultaneously carried out on 13 October over lunch break in both Angers and Paris.
In Angers, representatives from the International Office, the EU*Asia Institute and the Maison d’Europe of Angers met with about 100 students in the entrance hall. An information stand near the reception desk was opened by the Director of the EU*Asia Instutite, Dr Thomas Hoerber, a German native, who has been working in France for over ten years now, after having studied in Edinburgh, Paris and Cambridge. He was followed by a more recent ERASMUS student, Emma Prioux, just back from a year-long ERASMUS exchange at Pforzheim, Germany, who gave a little testimony of what this experience meant for her life and career. She was followed by the appreciation of an Italian lady, Dr Oriana Licchelli, who has made a remarkable career out of going abroad in becoming the newly appointed Director of Programmes at ESSCA after many years of teaching, researching and administrative experience.
The President of the Maison d’Europe of Angers, Jean-Marc Minier, seized the opportunity to launch a new local student association. It will be called Angerasmus+ and will be open to all past, present and future ERASMUS students in Angers for joint events, such as excursions, of course always aiming at realising the very purpose of the ERASMUS programme: get to know each other, have fun together, have a better understanding of each other.
The director of the International Office, Dr Alejandro Escudero-Yerro – a Spanish native in charge of mobility at ESSCA – unveiled the blue 30-year ERASMUS Plaque together with Dr Licchelli, thus marking the continuous commitment of ESSCA to the ERASMUS experience. The event was concluded by singing the European anthem together with all present students and staff. We thank ESSCA’s long-standing, incomparable lead singer Jonathan Lloyd for his help in making this conclusion memorable.
All over the ceremony, little drinks and snacks – including, of course, a birthday cake – were available in the entrance hall, while games and discussions animated the event, such as a big 4-by-4 meter map of Europe, to which the audience had to attribute the flags of the EU member states or particular objects that are specific for a country. Of coure, information on all Erasmus exchanges offered by ESSCA were also available.
In Paris, where the ERASMUS spirit and the mobility rate is the same, but both the entrance hall and the lunch break are somewhat more narrow, the scope of the event was more modest. Among the students present, three were lucky enough to win one of the ERASMUS T-shirts in a little quiz, before campus director Pascal Lebarbier unveiled the very same commemorative plaque as in Angers.
ERASMUS has opened the mind of many and has brought European citizens closer together through mutual friendship and understanding. This is a spirit which has proven its worth throughout 30 years and will do so for future Erasmus generations. It is good to know that ESSCA has, on its modest scale but with great commitment, made a contribution to this unique success story. Well worth a celebration!