We organised a meeting for students and graduates of Czech universities in cooperation with the Czech Embassy in Spain.
By meeting internatinal alumni and students of Czech universities in Madrid, we continue in our long-term cooperation with Czech embassies in various countries. In cooperation with the Embassy in Sweden, we organised the second Alumni Meetup in Stockholm at the end of March, a similar event will take place at the end of April in cooperation with the Embassy in Chisinau, and we are planning another meeting for international alumni in the USA this May.
Last week, over a hundred participants gathered at the residence of Czech Ambassador Ivan Jančárek, both Spanish graduates of Czech universities and Czech students who are currently studying in Spain. The event, which was once again held under the banner of our Czechia Alumni and Study in Czechia initiatives, provided an opportunity for reunions and networking. It also provided a chance to share experiences with the Czech and Spanish education systems, as well as to participate in our national graduate programme Czechia Alumni. Czech Centres also helped with the organisation of the meeting.
"Meetings like this have several levels. The first is the promotion of studies in Czechia and the possibilities of what the country can offer in this respect. The second is the Czech-Spanish level. We see here cooperation between two national agencies (on the Czech side the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research - DZS, on the Spanish side the SEPIE agency) and the Spanish Embassy, which all deal with Erasmus+ and foreign trips at the national level. The third level is the visibility of Czechia as such, which is the main task for us as an embassy," summed up the significance of the whole event from the perspective of Czech foreign policy the Czech Ambassador to Spain Ivan Jančárek.
Alfonso Gentil Álvarez-Ossorio, Director of the Spanish Service for the Internationalization of Education (SEPIE), emphasised the above-standard mutual exchange between the two countries: "In the academic year 2021/2022, more than 2,600 Czech students came to study with us under the Erasmus+ programme, and almost 1,900 young Spaniards went to Czechia for their Erasmus. These trips have certainly enriched the lives of the participants and we are almost certain that these numbers will only increase in the future."
During networking activities, such as "human bingo", Spanish students who are still considering their decision to study abroad could connect with alumni and learn about the Czech culture and universities. "I'm from the Alido area in the south of Spain and when I went on Erasmus I didn't know anyone beforehand. A meeting like this would have definitely helped me then," Fermín Razquin, who completed one semester of law at Charles University in Prague, commented. His colleague Natalia Moya, who studied economics and finance at the same university, agrees: "I would also have really appreciated this opportunity before going to Prague. It's also a great opportunity to get to know Czech culture."
However, Alumni Meetups can also bring some touching moments. Carlos Ibáñez, who studied economics 21 years ago at the Palacký University in Olomouc, met former classmates he hadn't seen in two decades at the event. They immediately agreed to return to Olomouc this summer. He considers his experience studying abroad to have been a great one, saying that it really changed his life. He now works in a bank and has stayed in the field he studied. "I think I landed a good job position thanks to the fact that I have an open mind and I was involved in an international project," he later explained.
"The point of meetings of international students and graduates of Czech universities, like the one in Madrid today, is not only to deepen the bonds of people with the same life experience. Thanks to them, the alumni further strengthen their relationship with Czech culture and education, and can thus spread the positive experience they have with Czechia in the future and inspire their countrymen to study at Czech universities. International students are absolutely crucial for the quality of the Czech education system," summarised the main message of the Alumni Meetup Michal Uhl, the director of DZS.
If you are interested in further details about the event, learn more in our blogpost on the Study in Czechia website.