From 9-13 March, Programme staff of EFIL Member Organisations (+ AFS Argentina!) met in Cairo, Egypt, for the 8thedition of the annual EFIL Programme Directors meeting. With a total of 32 participants and facilitators, the meeting had a record attendance which shows that the event has clearly become a not-to-be-missed feature on each organisation’s annual activity calendar.

Group picture 1

AFS Egypt proved to be the perfect host for three intense days of workshops, information sessions, debates, discussions and many corridor talks aiming at better understanding each other’s realities, sharing best practices and learning from each other, looking for common solutions and improving the overall programme quality.

The meeting opened with a session about EFIL’s current efforts in the field of new partner development in Europe. We were happy we had with us Pauline Fraser (UK), Krasimira Banova (Bulgaria) and Kevin Hickey (EIL Ireland) who added a much appreciated local touch to the presentations and discussions. From AFS International, Christine Leimgruber had joined us, and she facilitated a session focusing on the challenge of implementing the recommendations of the Traditional School Programme Working Group (as presented at the AFS World Congress), and addressed questions related to Risk Management, an important aspect of every Programme Director’s reality. Our “Open Space with a Difference” tackled topics collected by EFIL as suggested by the Programme Directors themselves in preparation of the meeting. The agenda further included the traditional Poster Gallery with this year’s topic “Active Citizenship”, and ample time was set aside for Partner-to-Partner meetings to allow for concrete bilateral discussions. This year’s training aspect focused around ASHOKA. Participants learned more about change making and the field and history of social entrepreneurship through the work of ASHOKA Youth Ventures.

In the evaluation, participants praised EFIL for preparing a relevant agenda, for closely following up on recommendations of the past years’ evaluations, for allowing more time for P2P meetings, and for using original and good methodologies (esp. for the Poster Gallery and the ‘Open Space with a Difference’). It was pointed out that in future meetings more time should be allocated to Risk Management issues. The ASHOKA session was greeted with mixed feelings, ranging from strong enthusiasm about the concept to labeling it as less relevant.

Participants enjoyed a well prepared social evening set up by the volunteers and host families of AFS Egypt. AFS Egypt also guided the group through a much loved visit to the nearby Pyramids and the Sphinx, and a dinner cruise on the Nile. Several participants had taken up the invitation by AFS Egypt to stay with host families prior to or after the days of the PD meeting, a very worthwhile experience.

EFIL would like to thank Sherifa, Mohag, the staff and volunteers of AFS Egypt for being the perfect host of the meeting. And of course, without the valuable inputs and contributions of the participants the event wouldn’t have been the success it was – thanks a lot to the whole group for actively participating. Save the date for next year’s Programme Directors meeting!