Budapest hosts EFIL’s General Assembly (14-17 May)
Close to 80 participants attended EFIL’s General Assembly 2015, hosted by our Member Organisation in Hungary. Among the participants were the leadership of all 28 Partners of the European network of EFIL, as well as guests from AFS International, including the Chair of the Board of Trustees Christian Werle and AFS President and CEO Vincenzo Morlini, and guests from the AAI region (AFS Asia-Pacific Initiatives), Rahiema Bonnie Bagis-Guerra and Armieyah Mae Ayob.
Preceding the opening dinner of the GA, a well attended EFIL induction session was scheduled for newcomers in the European AFS network. The host, our Member Organisation AFS Hungary, had invited all GA delegates plus volunteers of AFS Hungary, for a roof top reception to celebrate the organisation’s 25th anniversary.
To officially open the GA on Friday morning, Greg Csaba, Chair of AFS Hungary, and Jörn Lehmann, Chair of the EFIL Board, welcomed and introduced two high-profile key-note speakers: US Ambassador Colleen Bell, and Dr. Tamas Szucs, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Hungary.
Roberto Ruffino, EFIL’s Honorary Chair, then took us back for a much appreciated walk through history for a look at AFS’s early years. Unfortunately, Roberto could not be with us in Budapest, but modern technology made it possible to broadcast his live presentation on large television screens through Skype.
An overview of EFIL’s achievements of the past two years in the various activity fields was presented by means of videos, while comments were added by the EFIL staff, with focus on the challenges and on the way forward (actions scheduled as per Business Plan 2015-2016). In the afternoon working group sessions, participants had the opportunity to go into deeper discussions with the EFIL staff and Board members, and help shape the future of EFIL’s work.
On Saturday morning, Member Organisations had the opportunity to learn about and become familiar with EFIL’s support bodies TICLAB and EPOR, their goals and activities. The parallel morning sessions focused respectively on the implementation of EFIL’s Strategy for Intercultural Learning, and on EFIL’s advocacy work and European structures in the field of advocacy.
Further sessions during the two days of the General Assembly included a presentation by AFS President Vincenzo Morlini and Christine Leimgruber, Chief Program and Risk Management Officer at AFS International, in which they focused on the state of the AFS network and the EFIL region in particular, and a session by our guests from the AAI region about AAI and its role in the future of AFS, and AFS Philippines as a member of AAI.
Agenda points of the statutory session included, among other issues, the report of the Treasurer on the financial results 2013-2014 and the election of EFIL Board members (see elsewhere in this edition of EFILife). The statutory session was chaired by the Chair of the AFS Board of Trustees, Christian Werle.
During the closing session, special attention was given to Sabine Siegrist’s farewell. After ten years of excellent service as National Director of AFS Switzerland, Sabine is leaving AFS. In Budapest she received a standing ovation from her colleagues.
Last but not least, a big thank you goes to the host, our Member Organisation in Hungary. A well designed city rally organised by the volunteers of AFS Hungary on Friday evening and the closing dinner cruise on the Danube, were much appreciated by all and contributed to the overall successful event this General Assembly was.