At the heart of Erasmus+ is connecting communities and sharing learning
A message from Léargas
Léargas manages international and national exchange programmes in education, training, youth and community work. Erasmus+ is our biggest programme, and like all of our programmes it connects people in different communities and countries. This year, we're celebrating 30 years of Erasmus to Erasmus+, which means 30 years of people across Europe connecting, exchanging and learning with and from each other.
In Ireland we often think of community as a shared locality, like a school, club, parish or workplace. But there are other things that bring us together, and communities form around these too: it can be a shared identity, a passion, or a goal to be achieved.
Whether or not we're conscious of it, there are always others in the world who share the values of our communities and are equally committed to them. If we don't know those people, it's just that we haven't found them yet.
Erasmus+ is a great way not only to find people but to actively work together with them to achieve real change: to modernise teaching and learning across Europe, to improve key competences and skills, and to support social equity and inclusion.
In this supplement you'll hear directly from people whose lives have been changed by Erasmus+, but it's the knowledge and insight they have brought back to their communities that are at the heart of the programme.
Erasmus+ is about building European experience into the life of an organisation. At Léargas we see examples of this every day, from a rural youth group in Donegal being inspired by their Finnish counterparts to advocate for more local services for young people, to Sign Language interpreters across Europe working together to increase opportunities for Deaf people to join the workplace. These are the kinds of impact that make us want to bring these opportunities to as many people as possible.
The Peter McVerry Trust has been sending and hosting young volunteers through the European Voluntary Service for more than 10 years.
Fr McVerry believes that "the philosophy and methodology of [Erasmus+] should become mainstream in every organisation" because engaging with other countries "not only benefits the individual, but obviously benefits the whole organisation when they return. All that we can do is to encourage people, to walk with people, to open doors for people, support them and open the possibilities to them that were not previously available."
In 2016 alone, 181 projects across Ireland received Erasmus+ funding from Léargas amounting to more than €10million. As a result, 9,500 participants had the opportunity to explore possibilities they otherwise would not have experienced.
If you're as inspired by their stories as we are, do get in touch with us to explore how your community could benefit from connecting with others active in adult education, school education, vocational education and training, volunteering or youth.
Jim Mullin is Executive Director of Léargas
Erasmus+ National Agency.