IVY volunteers in Martinique for the ELAN Project

Who are we? Why did we join IVY and the ELAN project in Martinique?

Marie: Having graduated recently with an Erasmus Mundus Master in Sustainable Territorial Development, I discovered the ELAN project and IVY (Interreg Volunteer Youth) while looking for some experience in European projects. After working in central administration in France, I wanted to develop my skills in project management on another scale, in an island context in particular. ELAN in Martinique and the Caribbean islands fitted perfectly! Furthermore, during my interview with Ghislaine (the ELAN project manager), she shared her willingness to fit the project with the new European Green Deal objectives. Particularly sensitive and attracted to work on sustainable development aspects, the combinaison with the educative dimension attracted me. Finally, the ELAN project allows me to dedicate my time and energy for the benefit of the Caribbean youth. In that way, I hope to contribute to give them the same travel opportunities I had myself and that were truly life-changing.

Sofiane: In order to acquire new professional experiences, I decided to take a gap year just before my last year at the university. The aim of this gap year was to deepen the elements I was dealing with in my master’s degree which is dedicated to public policies in France. I heard about the European Solidarity Corps and the volunteering offer was perfect for me. Indeed, this volunteering enables me to discover, through Martinique, the reality of French overseas territories, which are not very well known in metropolitan France. Moreover, the ELAN project is a true project of regional development through Education and training. ELAN allows with school exchanges and student exchanges the development of cooperation in the Caribbean. Moreover, this project enables people in the Caribbean to benefit from a richer and more interesting training from a cultural point of view. It is therefore with great enthusiasm that I applied for this offer of the European Solidarity Corps.

Marie Laurent at the Trois Ilets in the South of the island and Sofiane Begga at the

Presqu’île de la Caravelle on the Atlantic coast

What do we do? Our missions

The Virtual Fair: In 2020, ELAN held the first virtual student fair for the Caribbean. After the great success of this first edition, a second virtual fair will take place in November. During the month of November, the ELAN team and the partners will offer workshops to young people wishing to do an exchange in order to help them formalize their mobility project. Then, on November 24th and 25th, the virtual fair will open its doors to allow interactive exchanges between exhibitors and students and partners but also with teachers of French-speaking and English-speaking Caribbean. Our mission as volunteers is to help the team in the promotion and logistics of the event. We will also participate in the organization and the animation of some workshops during the virtual fair.

Partnership between schools: The ELAN project also includes primary and secondary schools. ELAN creates partnerships between schools of English speaking and French speaking Caribbean. These partnerships are a great opportunity to improve their language skills and to develop their cultural openness. Our mission as volunteers is wide. We create partnerships by considering the characteristics and wishes of each class. Once these partnerships are created, we have to keep them alive. To achieve this goal in 2021-2022, ELAN created calls for proposals for these partnerships and as volunteers, we are fully involved in the conception of these calls for proposals as well as their follow-up.

Evaluation and follow-up: already looking at an ELAN 2, we are helping the project team to elaborate a new action plan. Indeed, the current ELAN project will come to an end in July 2022 but the dynamic launched should be pursued. The project manager is therefore giving us many evaluative and prospective tasks, allowing the team to start planning the new axes for regional cooperation to last in the Caribbean region!

Welcoming the incoming students: on august the 6th, 16 students coming from all over the region arrived at the Fort de France port. To prepare their arrival and welcome them, we helped the project manager in the different administrative procedures. We also planned different activities for them to discover the island. Unfortunately, only a few days after their arrival, a strict confinement was announced in Martinique, compromising the welcoming programme… We hope to be able to organize these activities in September when more students will also come to join the ELAN project (from Haiti) and integrate the university.

Publication: One of the partners of the project is Campus France, which is a public organization that promotes the French higher education system. For this purpose, they produce publications related to the projects they work on and which are gathered in their collection “Dynamiques Régionales”. In the context of ELAN, Campus France wants to create a publication about higher education in the Caribbean and as volunteers we are associated to the creation of this publication.

What can we expect in the next 5 months?

On the professional side: In addition to the different projects we are working on this summer and that we will continue to follow after, from September onward our missions will mainly gravitate around the virtual fair (taking place in November). In parallel, careful attention will be given to the integration of the new students starting their studies at the Université des Antilles in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Moreover, the project coming soon to an end, we will be asked to assist the project team for the partnerships and consortium meetings about the future of ELAN.

On the personal side: The Covid situation in Martinique is a major concern. As we arrived in mid-June (Sofiane) and early July (Marie) we have seen the situation deteriorate and the restrictions become harder. Nevertheless, we could discover the island but on August 10th, a strict lockdown was announced as the situation was out of control and it is with great regret and reluctance that we had to leave Martinique very quickly. Even if we enjoyed as much as we could, we were

limited in our activities. We are looking forward to returning to Martinique and taking advantage of all the opportunities this beautiful island has to offer.

Marie & Sofiane, IVY Project Partners at Académie de Martinique for the ELAN Interreg Project

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