I had a great time today at the EU Centre at RMIT, who held a celebration of 30 years of the ERASMUS Programme. This student mobility programme, financed by the EU, took me to Leiden, in the Netherlands in 1992. At the time it seemed to be just a fun way to enhance my under-graduate experience and get something interesting on my CV (that’s all it took in those days – we didn’t need 14 internships…).
However I’ve long been aware that it was much more than that. It was the beginning wonder and joy at the new and different, of calculated risk-taking and a confidence about my ability to cope with almost anything. It was great to hear that story repeated by the others there, pretty much all of whom had the early experience of the programme that I did. Maybe we didn’t realise it at the time, but we were pioneers, the first of the Erasmus generation.
Through my au-pairing experience a few years before and the Erasmus time in Leiden I learned about problem-solving, resilience, adaptability, flexibility, empathy and getting a different perspective. These are the kind of skills that are going to be at the heart of the jobs of the future – those particularly human attributes that are more difficult for machines to replicate. So programmes like Erasmus are setting our young people up for the future.
(If you want to get a feel for what I’m talking about, I’ll tell you what I told the assembled room today – watch L’Auberge Espagnole!)