Leen, teacher trainer, at the GENE Conference in Lisbon

Leen Van Craesbeek is the head of the teacher training bachelor’s degree in primary education and the anchor figure for internationalisation at the Belgian university college Hogeschool Vives in Bruges. In November 2018, she flew to Lisbon to present the eNSPIRED-programme to an international audience at the GENE Conference. We caught up with Leen at the eNSPIRED learning week on gender and education to chat about her experience. 

“I learnt about eNSPIRED through Els Callens, the coordinator of internationalisation at our school and a member of the eNSPIRED advisory group”, explains Leen, a familiar face at our gatherings by now. “As anchor figure for internationalisation I supervise the students of our different campuses who want to do an internship in Suriname. My job, elaborated knowledge of the Surinamese education system and involvement of my employer as a VVOB partner, led eNSPIRED to ask me to co-host a workshop at the eNSPIRED learning week on vulnerable learners last school year on how Suriname deals with equity in education.”

“Hesitated to accept the offer” 

But how does one end up in Lisbon as a representative of our programme? “That’s a valid question”, Leen smiles. “I think my involvement with the learning week last year and my knowledge of VVOB’s programmes in Suriname did the trick.” She continues: “When eNSPIRED ‘popped the question’ I remember feeling very honoured, but a small part of me hesitated to accept because of the timing of the conference. I just came back from a long business trip to Uganda and I had no idea if I would manage to finish everything in time for GENE. But as soon as I recognised the perks for my own professional career, I was very eager to go.” After all, Leen does teach the course ‘internationalisation’ to guide students doing an internship in the Global South. 

“It was fascinating”

“At the GENE Conference, I presented the eNSPIRED programme and showcased some examples of how we integrate the online available materials in the different courses of our teacher training programme at Vives”, Leen explains. “In retrospect I am very happy I accepted the offer. It was fascinating to discover the different macro players and actors at a European level. eNSPIRED has officially been put on the European development map and was able to draw attention to the importance of bilateral exchange across borders, far beyond Europe”, she reflects. 

"A tool for inspiration"

“Fortunately, we teacher trainers can always rely on eNSPIRED for inspiration. Thanks to your learning weeks and guest lectures, you help us figure out ways to tackle barriers in education from an international angle. This is an important reflex I try to stimulate in my students before they start their internship in the Global South. Your website offers plenty of inspiration for that purpose and the good practices are a useful tool to broaden their views of the world.”

Our partners for quality education

VVOB's teams of experts in the countries count on an extensive network of structural partners in Flanders: teacher training institutions, universities, departments of Education and educational service providers. We can also call on international organisations for short assignments in the country offices. This does not only strengthen VVOB’s work. The education partners gain valuable insights in different contexts and practices, and return home with the capability to address certain challenges in Flanders from a different perspective. Their policies on internationalisation are also enriched. Win-win.