29 September – 30 October 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected the way we live and learn in 2020. The repercussions on international travel are undoubtedly much heavier than anyone in the FRIENDS consortium would have expected in early 2020. In light of this, a number of measures had to be taken in the summer of 2020 to mitigate the pandemic’s negative impact on the FRIENDS project activities’ timely progress. On the other hand and as noted in the Research for CULT Committee – Virtual Formats versus Physical Mobility. Concomitant Expertise for INI Report prepared for the European Parliament CULT Committee in March 2020, there is an extensive evidence that physical mobility provides far more benefits than the virtual one when it comes to personal and professional skills’ and competences’ development and the increased adaptability to new and changing environments as well as to the development of a sense of European and/or global citizenship. As mentioned in the same CULT Committee’s report, none of the mobility formats could replace the other but only complement and enrich it. As a result, the partners in the FRIENDS consortium decided to only postpone for 2021 and not to cancel the Student Boot Camp originally planned to take place at VUM in Bulgaria in the summer of 2020. Simultaneously, the FRIENDS partners agreed to organize and facilitate an online introduction to the face-to-face training event in the course of September – October 2020 to allow students to benefit from both types of mobility and to ensure activities linked to the launch and initial operation of the FRIENDS Teahouses are not hindered.
The online introduction to the postponed physical student mobility to VUM was conducted by experts and lecturers from the four European partner HEIs who provided online trainings dedicated to some of the key themes included in the Student Boot Camp’s agenda, namely Leadership, Student Engagement, Art Management, and Project Management. Each of the four online mini modules had a duration of 8 teaching hours delivered via zoom.us in the course of three days in the period of 29 September – 30 October 2020. The agenda of the online training sessions could be found here. The four online mini modules were attended by the 12 Asian FRIENDS universities digital storytelling contests’ student winners. As a result of the new knowledge and skills acquired, the students are expected to have become well equipped to engage proactively in the FRIENDS Teahouses’ initial set-up activities and operation.