The three-day seminar (Ex)Change Your Lives was held from November 22nd to November 24th at the Faculty of Philosophy and Faculty of Sciences in Novi Sad. The main focus was the inclusivity of students with disabilities in exchange programs as well as empowering volunteers of Erasmus Student Network. Besides workshops, small sessions, and the panel, an Erasmus+ Chat was held in collaboration with EU info center in Novi Sad in order to promote inclusion, mobility and European values.
Over 50 people gathered from Serbia, Croatia, Denmark, United Kingdom, Ukraine, and Spain under one goal - to create a more inclusive society. Thanks to ESAA (Erasmus+ Student And Alumni Alliance), participants of the seminar had the opportunity to engage in discussions about student mobility in the framework of social inclusion. The event kicked off on Friday with a lively discussion of the panel Inclusion and international mobility programmes: A perspective on students with disabilities.
One of the panelists, Milica Knežević, author of the blog "Choose to live", said that the key issue is that the existing laws are not implemented, and that everything else starts from that. “If the faculty is obliged by the law to be wheelchair accessible, but it’s not, whose fault is that? And what we can do about it?” said Milica adding that her exchange was just like anybody else’s: exciting and challenging, because it’s a challenge for everybody to go somewhere.
Another panelist, Ana Ilić, the president of the Association of students with disabilities in Novi Sad, advised that it is very important to do some research on the culture that you’re going to come into and see if the faculties have elevators and ramps on MappED. Student of Physical Education Stefan Kilibarda thinks that a partial solution would be to be able to take personal assistants on an exchange, which would give some sort of comfort.
Additionally, Irina Veselinović, the president of ESN Serbia stated that many problems lie in the programme itself as well as the institutions and therefore only 0.14% of people with disabilities participate in student exchanges. „What we can do is talk more about it, contact relevant organizations and share our experiences”, Irina summed up pointing out the Social Inclusion Days as one of many good things that ESN is doing to promote inclusivity.
Representatives of their own respective countries from Croatia, Denmark and Ukraine presented the activities that they do with a focus on social inclusion during exchange periods and engagement with the local community. Sharing best practices did not only engage true peer-to-peer learning, but it also gave us an opportunity to exchange ideas and to see a more inclusive future which ESN holds for all students.
The event was organised with the support of Erasmus+ Students and Alumni Alliance (ESAAeu) in collaboration with Erasmus Student Network Serbia, European Youth Capital for 2019 (OPENS 2019 - Omladinska prestonica Evrope Novi Sad), and organic healthy snack company Basket.
Edited by Nađa Jovičin