These have been my first three weeks as Interreg Reporter at the Joint Secretariat of the Interreg SUDOE Programme - located in Santander (North of Spain)....and it's really time to write down some thoughts and impressions of this intense beginning. I say intense because last week I also participated in the “IVY (Interreg Volunteer Youth) Get Together” event in Brussels, which was indeed a great opportunity to meet other Interreg volunteers and organisations involved in this initiative.
...but let's start from the beginning...
Some months ago, when I decided to apply for IVY, what I really found super interesting of this initiative were two things, above all: the idea of promoting cooperation across borders at the local level and the recognition of a social/human dimension of Interreg. Now that I've started, I can certainly say that for the SUDOE Programme the people-centred approach truly matters. That's why my role for the next months is strongly linked to the need and will to show how the programme – and the projects funded through it – are positively improving people's lives. To raise awareness about the important achievements of Interreg SUDOE, I'll be mainly responsible for the capitalisation process of project results and the programme in general. On the one hand, I'll be carrying out some research on the impact of the projects approved in the last years, focusing on their tangible contribution to the territory and its people; on the other hand, I'll be realising a parallel study on the capitalisation of the programme itself, in view of adapting its strategy and making it more visible.
The great part of this research is that I will be in touch with several project partners and will have the chance to gain some valuable insights from them. In the same way, I will get to know more about how the programme is perceived at different levels, when getting in touch with key actors involved in its promotion. The result of all this will be then presented and discussed during next year' SUDOE event on capitalisation.
In addition to this work on capitalisation, I'm also currently taking part in most of the Secretariat's activities and meetings, as an active member of the team. This is an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about Interreg and particularly transnational cooperation in South-west Europe. In that sense, the SUDOE team is simply great and they made me feel like one of them from the very beginning!
As to Santander, what can I say? I've to admit, this part of Spain was totally unknown to me until I arrived here. However, I'm naturally fascinated by coastal towns...maybe because I'm from a similar place in Italy. I'm still discovering this city, but it looks a relaxed and enjoyable place to stay, so I really cannot complain.
All in all, it has been a very positive beginning. I hope I'll make the most of this enriching experience! I'll keep you posted :-)