Testimonial: Elisa Larghi at KU Leuven for a Staff Training Week
Servizio relazioni internazionali e mobilità
Back in May, Elisa Larghi, Dean’s Office at the Faculty of Informatics, spent one week at KU Leuven (Belgium), for a Staff Training Week. The leading theme of the week was “Community Feeling”, and the training offered a rich program of lectures, parallel sessions and extracurricular activities.
Elisa has agreed to share her experience with our audience.
Thank you Elisa for accepting our request. Please, let us know something more about yourself and your current position at USI.
I joined the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Informatics in 2008 as administrative assistant, and I am currently coordinator for the Bachelor and PhD programmes, and responsible for examinations and course scheduling at the Faculty. In 2017, I had the chance to join USI’s social media board and later USI’s Newsroom, and starting from the academic year 2019/20 I will be serving as one of the five administration/library/logistics staff representatives in the Academic Senate.
Why did you decide to participate in the Staff Training Week at KU Leuven? What attracted you the most of that particular week?
In addition to having the pleasure of hosting a colleague from the University of Ioannina for a week, back in 2014, over the years I had heard excellent feedback from colleagues who had had the opportunity to participate in one of the staff mobility events. This year’s topic at KU Leuven - “Community Feeling” - was particularly interesting to me both as a member of the USI community, and also as a member of the student services on the front line with students and academic staff at the Faculty.
What were the three main take-away of this experience?
- there are challenges about fostering a sense of belonging in the university community that are universal across the board, no matter the size or the age of the university, but as a smaller and younger university, we have an edge on those institutions with a more cumbersome structure and which are constrained by the size of the community itself;
- for long-lasting community building/engagement it’s important to not only foster connections within the university, but also with the city/regional communities, whether it is through part of the study curricula (internships, service learning) or outreach activities for example;
- electronic platforms developed to support the activities of specific units within the university can bring value to the whole institution if adapted appropriately.
Can you tell us something about the group of attendees?
Most of the participants were staff members of international relations or other offices with direct interaction with students as part of their daily activities, with some having either studied at the university they then joined as staff, or who had been abroad as part of an Erasmus exchange.
With the exception of a guest speaker from the USA, and two participants from South Africa and Thailand, the rest of the group was based and originally from Europe, but all with student/exchange networks well beyond the borders of Europe.
Is there anything you will be able to immediately implement in your daily work?
Following a presentation on IT in the international office at FEB KU Leuven, there was an interesting discussion about the use of the different types of social media at various stages in the student’s interactions with the university, which I hope could be extended more generally to academic and administrative staff as well.
Overall, would you recommend such an experience abroad to your colleagues? Why?
Absolutely! Being able to share best practices and experiences with colleagues who do not necessarily work in the same exact role as you, in a setting removed from everyday life, allows you to reflect on how you approach your work and where there may be potential for improvement. I would in particular recommend KU Leuven and their whole team for the excellent organisation of the staff week, combining official presentations, thoughtful discussion, and more cultural and touristic activities, which fostered a great group dynamic.
Sum up the staff mobility programme you have attended in three words.
Community, Service, Excellent.