Mobility to Mieres BEATS travels to Spain

The first learners’ mobility of the two-year Erasmus+ project BEATS (Better English and Transferable Skills) for better job opportunities, took place in Mieres, Asturias, Spain, in November 2017 and was hosted by EOI de Mieres. The representatives from all six participating institutions attended the event. Apart from EOI de Mieres, the other participants of the project are École Superieure des Affaires (the coordinating institution) from Namur, Belgium, Adult Education Institution Dante from Rijeka, Croatia, IVO Brugge from Bruges, Belgium, Alius Lingua from Riga, Latvia, and Rapla Language School from Rapla, Estonia.

This was the third transnational meeting of the project team but the first time when the learners travelled along, as the two first gatherings – to Bruges in October 2016 and to Rijeka in July 2017 – had been dedicated to teacher trainings. The coordinators had additionally held a transnational Skype conference in January 2017.

Some BEATS guests arrive in Mieres and are welcomed warmly by the Spanish learners.

On 19 November, the day when most guests from abroad arrived in Mieres, the Spanish coordinator, Maria, unfortunately broke her leg and couldn't be there physically. The whole mobility thus became a test of how well the Spanish team could manage the organisation of the event without the presence of their lead figure and how well the international BEATS team could cope with unexpected obstacles and long-distance coordinating. To everyone’s delight, everything went remarkably smoothly throughout that week-long synergetic journey of our international team. That was testimony to the excellent preparatory work that Maria and the rest of the Spanish team had done but also to the willingness of Maria’s colleagues and learners, as well as the coordinators from the partner countries to step in and save the day. Maria still actively directed the events via the Internet, mobilising her team members and partners. She also coordinated the writing of blog posts about the mobility – assigned to a different countr y each day – and posted them.

Coordinators from the partner institutions (back) and hosts Ana and Carmen at EOI de Mieres

Maria’s colleagues Carmen and Ana substituted Maria as the on-the-spot organisers. Carmen had been the main coordinator of the Grundtvig project An InterACTIVE LANGUAGE Adventure across Europe (2011-2013), where most participating institutions were the same as in BEATS, so she already knew four of the five other coordinators from before and thus very naturally fit in the team again. Ana was irreplaceable as the person who took care of the practical details and finances related to the mobility to Mieres.

The Spanish BEATS learners were also touchingly hospitable, cheerful, and helpful as well as inspiringly motivated and actively involved during the entire stay of the international partners – José Ramón, Cristina, Hector, Alfonso, Débora, Andrea were always there for us and with us throughout the entire mobility and always did more than their share.

The Latvian team introduce themselves

The programme of the mobility was very interesting. The official part of the programme started on Monday, 20 November, in the conference room of the university residence hall, where the international teams were staying. The teams from different countries presented themselves shortly and entertainingly, some of them showing slide shows or videos. This was followed by effective team building activities.

A team building activity.

In the afternoon, the teams gathered in the building of EOI de Mieres for workshops on the do’s and don’ts of business etiquette in different countries. The group discussion on the topic was followed by each country’s team writing tips for foreigners arriving in their respective country and presenting them to the rest of the students. For the next activity, the participants chose their favourite from among the suggested business ideas and worked together with the others who had chosen the same idea. Each group started discussing and developing their business plan and also presented their ideas to the other groups.

On the second day, the whole BEATS team went to Langreo by bus to visit the business support centre in the Valnalón industrial district. The managing director and the tutor of the Entrepreneur Education programme gave us an overview of the centre’s activities. After that, we learnt how to use the Business Model Canvas. We continued working in groups on our start-up business ideas, with the employees of Valnalón giving the groups some useful feedback, and then presented the now more developed ideas to the whole team again, using the Canvas.

The team was then divided into two groups, each learning about a company based in the business support centre, followed by a whole-group discussion.

The participants in the activities in Valnalón, with our hosts

In the afternoon, we visited MUMI, the Mining Museum of Asturias, to learn more about coal mining, as Mieres is the heart of the coal mining industry in Spain. The emotions during the tour in the simulated underground mine ranged from excitement to claustrophobia... but we did learn a lot about the tough life of miners throughout the centuries.

Inside the Mining Museum

In the afternoon, we visited MUMI, the Mining Museum of Asturias, to learn more about coal mining, as Mieres is the heart of the coal mining industry in Spain. The emotions during the tour in the simulated underground mine ranged from excitement to claustrophobia... but we did learn a lot about the tough life of miners throughout the centuries.

The director of the Port of Avilés in his presentation

On the third day, we visited the Port of Avilés. The director of the port gave us a summary of the capacity and the activities of the port. After the reception, we went on a bus tour through the docks on both banks of the estuary.

A view of the port of Avilés

In the afternoon, we walked around in Avilés and were invigorated by this beautiful city with parks and historical buildings.

On the fourth day, the morning was free and the workshops took place in the evening. So, in the morning, some of us went to Gijón and some went to Oviedo to learn to know the region a little better. The Spanish students Cristina and Andrea and Débora acted as tour guides in Gijón.

The coordinators

All five coordinators from abroad went to Oviedo to pay a visit to Maria, the Spanish coordinator. It was lovely to see her and thank her for having coordinated such a productive and memorable mobility!

Once everyone had gathered again in Mieres in the afternoon, we had a very useful and comprehensive workshop led by the two Belgian coordinators, Marie and Inge, and assisted by the other coordinators, on the do’s and don’ts of business e-mails.

On the fifth day, the participants walked to EOI de Mieres for summing-up activities. We each filled in an assessment questionnaire about the mobility and its activities. We watched the video greeting of Maria, the Spanish coordinator. José Ramón then turned into a film director and cameraman, recording a video of the participants sharing the impressions of the mobility to Spain. That was the closing activity in Mieres.

Last day in EOI de Mieres

That morning, the BEATS team had prepared a keyword cloud about the impressions of the mobility as well. The teams parted, energised by the sunny Spanish weather and the sunny synergetic interactions between the members of the international BEATS team.

José Ramón, one of the BEATS learners and our kind hosts from Spain, summed up the first day of the mobility to Mieres in these profound words:

“When the wind blows against us, that is when you must give the best of you. And today was a windy day for us. Cooperating, acting as a team, and giving everything from you… there are no frontiers. Well done, BEATERS!”

His words are, in fact, symbolic of the whole mobility to Mieres and the whole BEATS project as well. May they remain an inspiration to us!

The participants were invited to talk about their impressions for a video, filmed and edited by the Spanish student José Ramón F. Baizán. It was a very nice way of saying good bye.

What is next?

Already on 25 February, the teams consisting of adult learners and coordinators from the partner countries will gather in Rapla, Estonia, where they will stay until 28 February as guests of Rapla Language School; after which the teams will travel on to Riga, Latvia, where the activities hosted by the language school Alius Lingua will last until 2 March. Hopefully, the visit to the Baltics will also be productive and provide new knowledge about the business culture, the different types of companies, and transferable skills.

The project will be rounded up in Namur, Belgium, in May 2018, where the learners will also visit local companies and participate in workshops, and where the coordinating institution, École Superieure des Affaires, will host a conference with the aim to draw conclusions and achieve a wider dissemination of the results of the project.

The project BEATS is funded by the European Commission within the framework of the Erasmus+ programme. BEATS is one of the Strategic Partnerships for adult education; and it falls under Key Action 2 of the Erasmus+ programme, which supports transnational projects designed to develop and share innovative practices and exchange experiences.

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