Last May 26-May 31, I joined peers and educational experts at the global professional learning and networking event NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference & Expo, "Global Leadership, Learning, and Change", one of the most comprehensive international events in the education community.
The conference took place in Washington, D.C., and featured outstanding informational engagement opportunities, professional development programs, and the largest international education exposition.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world's largest non-profit association dedicated to international education and exchange. The Annual Conference & Expo has gathered almost 10,000 participants from all over the world. More than 3,500 institutions and organizations were represented at the event, including a delegation of the Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) which is the executive branch of the European Union responsible for policy on education, culture, youth, languages, and sport.
I was part of this delegation, coordinated by Ms. Irene Sabio Gallego from the DG Education and Culture, along with some other MSCA fellows and Erasmus Alumni. We presented and explained what kinds of “Study and Research” opportunities are offered by the EU. Thanks to our first-hand experiences, from Master Degree to advanced stages of career, many attendees were interested in what the European Union offers to outstanding researchers from all over the world to develop their potential. In specific, the main two programes were represented by the Erasmus+ and MarieCurie Actions. For instance, the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees is a scholarship for students and researchers of exceptional quality to follow an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) or an Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate (EMJD) at two or more European universities. Instead, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSC) fellowships offer attractive career development opportunities in prestigious research teams in Europe, from any nationality or scientific domain of the researcher.
I shared my MSCA project “CONSUMEHealth. Using consumer science to improve healthy eating habits” with other fellows and conference attendees to promote and explain the benefits of the individual fellowships and how they boost your career. In particular, I met Giulio Pergola, Assistant Professor at Università degli Studi di Bari, currently working as a Marie Curie fellow at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and Valentina Ferro, MCA Alumni Vice-Chair, and former Marie Curie Initial Training Program at University of Dundee in UK. I got inspired by listening to their wonderful stories and learning how to be more impactful on society.
I also networked with many conference attendees from international research institutions and I gained insights on how the collaboration between Europe and US can be more fruitful and accessible.