I have never really been able to relax, take it easy and watch the clouds. So, in the beginning of June, when my vacation was approaching, without any real plans, I realized it was time to do something about it!
Now, I have a heartfelt passion for Italy, having spent almost two years in the country working. And one summer day, as I was browsing the web I found something that combined so many of my interests that I knew it was meant to be found by me. The Belgian-Italian Chamber of Commerce in Brussels offered a 2-week intensive course on EU policy for development cooperation. In Italian! I quickly applied and now, only a few weeks later I find myself in Brussels.
We are a small group of only 11, all Italians, except for me, the odd foreigner! For our first day we met up outside the EU Parliament, where all the action takes place. It is a truly awe-inspiring building and, for a political nerd like myself, it is an almost holy place. An Italian administrative clerk told us all about the various documents that regulate the European development policies and the agreements reached. In front of each of us on the table, next to the coffee cup with the EU flag was a huge compendium of everything anyone could possibly want to know on the topic.
The rest of the days will be held at the Chamber of Commerce, in the middle of Brussels. Yesterday we met our professors who normally teach at Padova University, but also have extensive experience from development cooperation. One of our professors- John Onama Baptist- a former child soldier, comes from Uganda, but has since his arrival in Italy worked in the development field. They are strict, but kind, and make us all work hard.
The task for this week is to learn how to use the instruments of project planning for development. The Logic Framework Approach which is used in project cycle management is a new way of seeing things, and crucial to land a project and secure funding from the European Commission which handles all the application and publishes calls for proposals.
It’s all about predicting problems and preventing them by starting from the bottom. We develop problem trees and counter with solution trees. We calculate risks and try to think in terms of sustainability and stability. It’s challenging and we do this 8 hours a day! I am sure by the end of this I will be dreaming in Italian.
Stay tuned for more on Brussels, Italian and development cooperation!