From 6-10 March, Programme staff of EFIL Member Organisations, AFS Costa Rica and AFS Philippines and potential future Members Bulgaria, Romania and EIL Ireland met in Stockholm, Sweden, for what was already the 10th edition of the annual EFIL Programme Directors meeting.

An enthusiastic group of more than 30 participants and facilitators spent three intense days of workshops, information sessions, debates, discussions and 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. Like every year, ample time was set aside for Partner-to-Partner meetings to allow for concrete bilateral discussions.

The meeting agenda included updates by EFIL staff on new partner development in Europe, and recent developments related to trimester exchanges (the European Citizenship Trimester Programme as well as the future PEACE Program (previously known as the Global Citizenship Trimester Programme), a cooperation between EFIL and AAI – read more here).

We were happy to have with us in Stockholm Magnus-Andreas Aase and Efrem Fisher from AFS International, while Larry Barnett and Chris Lukach joined us via a video session. Magnus focused on the possibilities of World Café, with special attention for Chapter Management, Bio Sheets and Monthly Reflections. Efrem discussed with the group the opportunities and challenges of short programmes including summer programmes, aiming at programme innovation and diversification. In a second session, Efrem facilitated a discussion on the programme planning process and how to improve it based on what is wanted, needed and possible. Handling difficult situations with the media and dangers related to media coverage, was the topic of the video conference with Larry and Chris, introduced and facilitated by Sólveig Tryggvadóttir of AFS Iceland.

Armieyah (Mae) Ayob from AFS Philippines and Raul Montero from AFS Costa Rica briefly introduced new programmes offered in their countries, and Gry Winther presented the boarding school programme that AFS Denmark runs in cooperation with AFS Thailand.

In the evaluation, participants praised EFIL for putting together an attractive agenda with a variety of relevant topics, leaving enough time to network and for individual talks. Sessions were described as being dynamic, interactive and well-focused. The presence of non-EFIL partners is always greatly appreciated, as is the cooperation between EFIL and AFS International is this annual meeting of programme staff.

Participants enjoyed meeting the volunteers of AFS Sweden on Wednesday night. A special thank you goes to AFS Sweden for arranging on the last afternoon the visit to the Nobel Museum (thank you Felix for the entertaining tour!), the guided walk through the old town (thank you, Margareta!), and the much liked dinner in the Viking restaurant to close our 2017 Programme Directors meeting. Thanks a lot also to the entire group for actively participating and for a most pleasant working atmosphere.

Save the dates for next year’s Programme Directors meeting!