The WBAA General Assembly successfully took place on the 19th of March 2023 at the hotel Metropol Palace in the heart of the city of Belgrade. This event was preceded by the WBAA Board meeting and WBAA Teams Meeting that took place in parallel the day before. This was a very important event for us because this is the first time since 2019, and the General Assembly in Tirana, that we are gathering in such a large number. Due to the covid pandemic, WBAA general assembly was not held in 2020, a virtual GA was held in 2021, and a hybrid one last year in Pristina, and finally this event brought together more than 80 participants, including WBAA members, representatives from sister networks, policy advisors, external guests, and the service provider.
Host and Chair Milan Stojanović was honored to open the event, greet all present, wish them welcome and thank them for their commitment and motivation to be part of this year's general assembly. For this purpose, symbolically Milan showed up at the stage in a t-shirt from the WBAA Kick off meeting in Ohrid, the first ever WBAA's event which took place exactly five years before. On this occasion, Milan reminded us that regardless of all the challenges and difficulties that we faced globally in the past years, WBAA managed not only to survive, but also to become the largest alumni organization in the Western Balkans with over 1.000 registered members and over 60 implemented projects all over the region.
Before Milan presented the agenda for the general assembly, Moderator of the event, Adnan Rahimić, addressed and welcomed the audience in front of the regional board and prepared the attendees for the working part with a short icebreaker. After adopting the agenda, Milan Stojanović presented the 4 Board members that have been elected since the last General Assembly. Rregjina Gokaj and Dejan Galovski introduced themselves to the audience, while Jasmina Salihović and Altin Gashi were not present personally. You can find out who the current National Representatives are for your chapter here.
This was followed by presenting three new WBAA team leaders, Vjoela Allkanjari, Shukrije Rama and Nikolina Adžić, led by Adnan Rahimić. You can find more information about WBAA teams here.
On behalf of the European Commission, Ms. Paola Ottonello, policy adviser, DG EAC, gave an online speech and informed WBAA General Assembly about policy updates on the EU and the Western Balkans in the areas of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. Her speech was followed by a Q&A session led by Adnan. The Paola's participation was finished with a WBAA family photo.
During the coffee break, all present had an opportunity to network and see the posters of sister organisations.
After the coffee break, the agenda was continued by information from the Service Provider. Gaia and Diana from GIZ explained the reimbursement rules for travel costs.
Then, an introduction of the sister networks was held led by the Moderator, Adnan Rahimić. Each organization got a stage for 10 minutes for a short presentation and Q&A. African Student and Alumni Forum (ASAF) was presented by Thandiwe Majama, Erasmus Student Network (ESN) by Salome Keshelashvili (online), Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association (EMA) by Jordan Hammond, garagErasmus by Serena Tenea and the Organisation for Cooperation, Exchange and Networking (OCEANS) by Samir Beharić.
Board member Rregjina Gokaj then presented the Annual Working Report, what has happened since the last General Assembly in March 2022 and Board member Jonida Mersinllari followed up with an Annual Working Plan and strategic priorities, and what is planned for the network over the next 12 months.
An important point at a GA is always the presentation of the changes in the WBAA Statute and Internal Rules and Regulations and adoption of the amendments, which this year was taken over by Board member Milan Stojanović. Milan introduced the General Assembly to two topics on which the Board asked the GA to make a statement, but unfortunately, due to technical problems, the vote had to be postponed.
Before the lunch break, a group photo was taken by Board member Dejan Galovski.
After the lunch break, the moderator Adnan Rahimić welcomed back the online participants with a little game. After this ice-breaker, Team leader Renata Petrevska Nechkoska presented the WBAA Tracer Study results, followed by the presentation of the Report about the first four years of WBAA by Board member Rregjina Gokaj. Second time we had the team leader Renata Petrevska Nechkoska, who presented this time a book chapter "PDIA in the Balkans: The Western Balkans Alumni Association (WBAA) as Positive Deviance: EU Enlargement and Regional Cohesion" published in January 2023, written by her and 11 more WBAA members. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-11065-8_9
Before the last session, Board members invited all present participants, based on their interests, to join one of the working teams in order to gather ideas on on certain topics such as: Regional Cooperation led by Milan Stojanović, Transition from Higher Education to Labour Market led by Rregjina Gokaj, Projects led by Njomza Sallauka, Travel Issues led by Dejan Galovski and Online Community led by Jonida Мersinllari. At the end of the session, Board members presented all gathered ideas with the General Assembly.
Finally, all present Board members went on stage and answered individual questions from WBAA members and guests. Milan and Adnan then concluded the final session and thanked everyone for their participation and wished them safe travel back home.
Many warm WBAA greetings, until the next WBAA event!
Always at your disposal,
edited by the Service Provider
Serbia, Pancevo, 27.03.2023