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EUSA Global Farewell

30 Sep

Four years ago, I started working at EUSA. My remit – supporting student-led internationalisation.  I was new to the UK, the University, and in all honesty – I had to practice saying internationalisation in front of a mirror before my interview for this job.  It’s difficult to say and –as I’ve learned- even more difficult to define. But I’ve tried my best over the past few years and learned a million lessons along the way.

And now I’m moving on.  In a couple weeks, I’ll be working with the Institute for Academic Development on projects around student engagement, curriculum, and innovation.  I’m really excited for the change and the opportunity, but sad to be leaving EUSA.  There have been countless times here when I’ve stepped back and thought ‘man, I love my job’.  I’m so grateful for the bag of lessons and experiences that EUSA and the people I have worked with have given me. Thinking back – there are a few that stand out.

TEDx

TEDx changed things for me. I was lucky to be part of the group which started TEDx University of Edinburgh back in 2012. When we started, I had no real experience in putting on a production and from scratch. If it wasn’t for the patience of people like Celia (who I think is a bit like a magician), Maggie, Andrew, Sarah, Roger and the rest of the team – it wouldn’t have happened.

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I learned so much from the students involved and came to appreciate that the process is much more meaningful than the end product – it’s not always about the big show.  The night before I remember thinking that if it all goes wrong, it has been one of the most amazing things to be involved with. And it didn’t go all wrong – it was perfect.

And now, we have a legacy and are onto our second student committee. Thanks to the imagination, dedication, and just pure brilliant organisation – Maggie, Theo, Andie, and Alina have owned TEDx and delivered it in a way I never could.  These teams have shown me the potential that lives within our community – we have filmmakers, event managers, inventors, graphic designers, animators, stage managers, speakers, light specialists, community developers, comperes, kick butt volunteer coordinators (I could go on…really). I’m excited not only to continue to support these initiatives, but to also be able to work alongside these talented people.

EUSA Global Assistants

When I started working at EUSA – there was no EUSA Global and no Global Assistants to help run all the great projects we have created.  Two years ago, Sophie and Rob were recruited and the EUSA Global Team was born.  It sounds a bit like a superhero gang and looking back – we kind of were. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing students on EUSA Global – Melissa, Mari, and now Andre and Blythe.  I’ve learned so much from these teams and I think they really demonstrate an approach the University should be doing more of.  Have faith in students and more times than not, they will deliver in a big way.

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Study America

For the past two years, I have had the amazing opportunity to lead a group of students to North America. A group of us identified a need to create more international experience opportunities for students who entered university through the Widening Participation programme. For the pilot, I went with 10 students to Charlottesville to visit the University of Virginia.  We spent two weeks going to classes, learning more about the area and the culture of Virginia, visiting DC, doing American things, and hanging out with local students.  I think the trip had a great deal of impact on the students, but I wasn’t expecting to be so transformed by the experience.  It was a special opportunity to see how young people can flourish and be bold in different cultural contexts.

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EUSA staff

There hasn’t been one day when I haven’t wanted to come into work. I’m constantly inspired by the passion, care, and creativity of the EUSA staff.  This is an incredibly dynamic group of people who support one another, see the possibility in every challenge, and know how to play a game of darts (OK, well not really).  It’s been an absolute pleasure working with you. And Phil, sorry for making fun of the way you say book. But you do say it funny.

This is Phil.

Gather

Last year, we had an idea.  We wanted to change the way the University celebrates culture. I had the pleasure to work with Lorna and Kirsty from the International Office on this and I think it takes some pretty cool people to work hard on an idea when you don’t know where it will take you.  After countless conversations and a workshop – we realised that the University talks about community, culture, and global citizenship in similar ways.

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From these findings, we created the Gather Festival and launched it for the first time in March 2014. The amazing Maria (a very talented postgraduate design student) created a brand and a series of beautiful illustrations. In the end, we had 52 events run by staff, students, and people in the city and we reached nearly 2,500 people.  Global Assistant Mari did amazing work mobilising events.  I’m so proud of what we achieved and thanks to our first year, our team and support from the University is growing. I’m so sad to be leaving the Gather team, but I’m excited to see it grow. It taught me a lot about the power of possibility and creating a team of talented people who really care about what they do.

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So thank you EUSA.

Thank you for giving me space to find my feet, make mistakes, order too much wine for events on countless occasions, let me be imaginative and a bit rogue, and teach me how to work with different communities.  Thank you for your patience when I show yet another Baby Berta video (seriously though, look at that face), buy giant maps and cork boards, or make you play rounders in Bristo Square…again.

Baby Berta

Baby Berta

Thank you to the University for supporting my projects, embracing collaboration and new ideas, and acknowledging the good work of the students I have worked closely with. Thank you for the opportunity.

But most all, thanks to the students I have had the pleasure to work with. Thanks for coming to events where you had no idea what you were signing up for, volunteering to help each other, participating in yet another pilot project, asking questions, and coming up with some pretty fantastic ideas.  I’m in constant awe of your enthusiasm and dedication to do good. You have been a real influential force over how I operate over the past four years.  I look forward to working with you in a new way.

My job is up for grabs and if you are keen on working with amazing students, staff, and picking up some great projects – you should apply. Otherwise, you can find me at the Institute for Academic Development and no doubt, I’ll see you around.

It’s been an absolute pleasure, Johanna