Just for your information, a successful application does not necessarily mean you also have a project. Turning an application into a successful project is something else. That, again, requires strategic thinking, investment in time and thought and most of all, in people. Now, there will be an international team of people working towards realizing the objectives set out in the application. Actually, that is where it really starts. From then on the international team of project participants will have only one way to go: forward. Gearing focus towards the end goal and with a lot of tender loving and care. Meeting all the challenges that international and intercultural collaboration will bring about, stepping out of comfort zones and facing personal boundaries in relation to bigger dynamics.
And that is where we are at the moment, that is what we are doing!
It all started with the intense process of our Erasmus+ CBHE application Caring Society in which all partners (3 European and 3 South African universities) contributed to the content. We managed to do this within a very short time in the midst of the 2015 South African student protests. And then, after taking a few little (however, possibly lethal to the acceptance of the project) administrative hurdles, we needed to wait…wait…wait….
Summer was coming for the European partners, while South African Partners faced their winter break, recovering from the student protests with ‘broken’ academic years. On 1 August 2016 4PM, while on holiday in my favourite place in Sweden, I received the relieving email from the EACEA in Brussels. “We were selected… our application was successful….”, so I told my spouse and Swedish extended family. Congratulations did not really sink in because my only thought at that moment was: “Shoot…, now I am busted. Now I have to get to work, now I need to get started.” Of course I was happy, proud…but also getting nervous and already feeling some pressure started to build up. I realized: “Now, I need to turn this successful application into a successful project.”. It helped me to think I was going to work with a great international and intercultural team of beautiful people, eager to start.
And we did it again! After some more administrative hurdles, in the midst of another round of student protesting that even seemed to have turned more intense this year (2016), we held our kick-off and first staff meeting in Cape Town, off campus for safety reasons. At this point we, as large international and intercultural team, started to collaboratively turn the application into a project. The meeting was exciting, challenging, constructive and successful. Making the participants even more eager to get started.
Writing this, returning home from the first CBHE Project Representatives Meeting at the EACEA in Brussels, I am even more convinced we can have a meaningful and successful project. Matters start falling into place. Teams organizing themselves, meeting virtually and getting up to speed in developing their project activities. My South African counterpart (the two of us are really turning into ‘partners in crime’) and I discussing ideas on the train, sharing our visions on how to manage our CASO project, fills me with joy and inspiration. Of course, there is going to be a lot of work that needs to be done by a lot of people. But, as a team working in this inspirational and multidisciplinary CASO project, we will make a change. We will contribute to improving healthcare and wellbeing, communities and education and, foremost, invest in PEOPLE.
René A.G. Teunissen, Project Coordinator