EUniWell School Ambassador meeting in Cologne

10/26/2023 | by Eszter Turopoli | Cologne Participation Students

EUniWell School Ambassadors from 7 EUniWell partner universities came together for the second in-person brainstorming meeting of the EUniWell School Ambassador Programme, hosted and facilitated by the University of Cologne from 12-14 October 2023.

A diverse group of people, consisting of both men and women, pose together on a grassy field with a backdrop of modern architectural buildings and a blue sky with faint vapour trails. They are dressed in casual attire, with some wearing bright colours while others opt for neutral shades. Some are standing, and others are crouched or kneeling on the grass. Everyone is smiling, giving off a cheerful and cohesive atmosphere. In the background, the contemporary buildings have a unique geometric design, with a section covered in construction scaffolding.
A group of diverse individuals gathered in a brightly lit room with white walls and colourful decorative panels in the background. The group consists of men and women, seated and standing, smiling at the camera. In the background, the walls are adorned with various papers, illustrations, and notes. To the left, there's a standing banner displaying the logo and text 'European University for Well-Being: EUniWell'. The room appears to be a creative workspace or meeting area, with a mix of chairs, colourful posters, and a whiteboard.
A lively workshop scene in a well-lit room where participants gather around an array of colourful images laid out on the floor. A man in a light shirt holds a yellow paper, actively engaging with a woman in a black shirt who is seated and laughing. Another woman in a white blouse sits beside her, listening intently. To the right, three other individuals are seated, observing the ongoing interaction with smiles and contemplation. The walls are equipped with blackboards and flip charts, displaying written notes, colourful sticky notes, and an 'EUniWell' banner. The atmosphere suggests a collaborative and interactive session.
A group of individuals seated in a modern conference room with a mix of coloured wall panels in red, orange, yellow, and green. They are attentively listening to a presentation, with some taking notes or capturing the moment on their phones. In the foreground, a woman jots down notes while another person beside her has a bag labeled 'EUniWell'. On the right, a large screen displays a colourful presentation slide. The walls are adorned with various posters, artwork, and a whiteboard. The room gives an impression of an interactive workshop or seminar setting.
A focused group of individuals in a bright room, deeply engaged in a workshop activity. They are gathered around large, colourful paper shapes spread out on the floor. Some participants are bent over, writing on the papers, while others stand or kneel, discussing and collaborating. A blackboard on the left displays sketches and notes, and another board on the right is adorned with multi-coloured sticky notes, labelled with different 'needs'. An 'EUniWell' banner stands prominently in the background. The atmosphere suggests teamwork, brainstorming, and active participation.
This is a visual representation of a brainstorming or workshop process. The main question posed is, "How can School Ambassadors contribute to more equal opportunities in the educational system?"  The chart seems to suggest a structured method to approach this question:  THINK: Reflect and write down your ideas. It's depicted by a light bulb, symbolising a moment of insight or inspiration.  PAIR: Discuss your thoughts with your group or a partner. This step might help refine or expand upon the initial ideas. The diagram shows two speech bubbles converging, indicating a dialogue.  IDEAFILTER: Choose your best ideas and detail them on cards. This stage involves filtering through the various thoughts and selecting the most potent ones.  SHARE: Present your selected ideas to others. This is illustrated by two stick figures with one showing a rectangle (possibly a card with the idea written on it).  To the side, there's a note that encourages participants to be creative without worrying about feasibility: "Get wild! Go crazy. Don't think about implementability/money. It doesn't have to look nice. No judgement/evaluation."  Below that, there's a section labelled "Possible Criteria" which includes reaching the target group, creating positive change, and team empowerment, among other things.  The overall presentation suggests an inclusive and open approach to problem-solving where all ideas are welcomed, and collaboration is encouraged.

EUniWell School Ambassadors from seven partner universities, including the Universities of Birmingham, Cologne, Florence, Murcia, Nantes Université, Linnaeus University, and Semmelweis University, recently joined a second in-person brainstorming session at the University of Cologne. The goal of the meeting was to strengthen the EUniWell School Ambassadors’ community by building upon the ideas gained from local School Ambassador activities and initiating the creation of joint action plans. The meeting further focused on identifying best practices for engaging and informing disadvantaged high-school students, while outlining possible intervention and communication methods to further improve the EUniWell School Ambassador Programme.

The 2.5-day-programme was organised and facilitated by  Leonie Tillmanns, EUniWell Mobility Manager at the University of Cologne and Talentscout Stefanie Ruetz from the Central Student Advisory Service at the University of Cologne. Stefanie Ruetz shared her positive experience, remarking, “liked the best that you as a group made it very easy for us coordinators to work with you – as an active group with great ideas! I have respect for what lies ahead of us but I am also excited.”

In her role as the coordinator of the EUniWell School Ambassador Programme, Eszter Turopoli from Semmelweis University played a pivotal role in supporting the School Ambassadors in the lead-up to the meeting, guiding the in-person sessions, and presenting the outcomes and future plans of the EUniWell School Ambassador Programme.

Gaining insights into educational equity across Europe 

Participants were welcomed by Dr. Graham Harrison, Managing Director of EUniWell, who highlighted the importance of student engagement and their contribution to EUniWell’s overall goals and mission.

Afterwards, the students shared their educational biographies with each other during an interactive workshop. Each Ambassador was then invited to give a presentation on educational equityin their home country. They discussed statistics related to first-generation university students at both the national level and within their own institutions, while offering potential explanations for these numbers. 

The Ambassadors also highlighted their local initiatives, activities and measures designed to address educational inequality. Various factors contributing to this inequality were discussed,  including family background, financial limitations, family dependency, psychological barriers such as guilt, anxiety and the fear of fitting in, as well as lack of awareness about support systems and  universities’ entry requirements.

Brainstorming and exchanging ideas

On the second day, participants delved into an intensive co-creational activity aiming to address key questions : “How can School Ambassadors promote equal opportunities in the educational system?” and “What innovative ideas do you have?”

To provide a theoretical foundation, as well as practical guidelines and methods, Miriam Fußangel, Transfer Scout of the Gateway Exzellenz Start-up Center of University of Cologne, was invited to offer her insights and some practical advice to the students.

Following an intensive brainstorming session, the group transitioned into a co-creational workshop. Here, the Ambassadors shared their ideas and worked on specific action plans. 

The most favoured ideas among the students included:

  1. Creating a EUniWell podcast about student life aimed at high school students, called “EUniCast”,
  2. Developing a dedicated social media strategy and activities including Instagram takeovers and TikTok videos targeting high school students,
  3. Creating learning materials for new EUniWell School Ambassadors (Booklet with different chapters), combined with a yearly in-person workshop series.

During the closing session, the next steps and tasks were clearly defined. The participants agreed on facilitating the implementation of the discussed ideas and related action plans, underpinned by the Ambassadors’ ongoing engagement and active involvement.

To wrap up the event, some students visited the first EUniWell Open Mic event, organised by the EUniWell Student Arena in Cologne.

Voices of our School Ambassadors

Our School Ambassador Programme is truly something special, and the following testimonials from our dedicated members speak volumes:

Victoria Wilson, a student at the University of Birmingham, shared her enthusiasm for our programme, saying, “I was surprised how many different ideas everyone had, and I am so glad to be involved at such an early stage of the programme.”

Letizia Di Donato from the University of Florence reminds us of the vital role our ambassadors play: “To be a school ambassador means helping future generations on their way to university and to help them to feel less lost – especially in post-pandemic times.”

Constantin Parow from the University of Cologne highlights the global impact of the community. To him, being a School Ambassador means: “Having an international community and noticing that there are many people who want to help all over the world.”

Flóra Oláh, representing Semmelweis University, emphasised the unity of purpose within our international group, saying that to her being a School Ambassador means, “Working in an international group which has the same aims and goals.”

The passion, creativity, and commitment of our members, as expressed through these testimonials, are what drive the programme’s success and make it a force for positive change.

The EUniWell School Ambassador Programme

The EUniWell School Ambassador Programme is designed to build strong relationships with local schools to promote lifelong learning and educational equality for young people. Its objective is to raise the aspirations of young people and promote European educational opportunities across EUniWell communities. Partner universities’ ambassadors have extended the reach of EUniWell into local communities, fostering engagement with local schools, and championing social diversity and equal opportunities at high schools. 

The main target group of the programme is secondary school students, who, for various reasons such as social or economic difficulties experienced in different countries, have fewer opportunities. The Programme involves preferably (but not exclusively) first-generation university students from a wide variety of social and cultural backgrounds to provide authentic ambassadors of the partner universities and dignified role models in local communities and schools.

The EUniWell School Ambassador Programme will be further developed in EUniWell’s second phase, starting on 1 November 2023, as a part of the Civic Engagement and Knowledge Transfer activities .

Further Information

Click here to find out more about the EUniWell School Ambassador Programme.


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