ESPON hosts Interact staff exchange

In February, we had the opportunity and pleasure to host our colleague from Interact’s Turku office, Philipp Schwartz, who spent two weeks with us as part of the staff exchanges within Interreg. This is his experience:

Article by Philipp Schwartz

Over the past years, Interact has been developing the concept of staff exchange within Interreg. Having shared the benefits of it for so long, I thought it was now time to do it myself!

As I have previously worked as Head of the Joint Technical Secretariat of an Interreg cross-border cooperation programme, I wanted to learn more about something less ‘traditional’. Hence the idea of joining ESPON in Luxembourg for two weeks stood out as a natural choice.

When arriving at Luxembourg airport and walking with my luggage to the exit, I was reminded of my school exchanges in France more than 30 years ago. You know that behind the door your guest family is waiting for you. And you realise that once you will pass the door, you will enter for a given period of time into another world and hope that everything will be fine and everyone will be nice. And everything and everyone was! Already at the airport, I was welcomed not to be left alone on a Sunday evening in my small one-room rental apartment.

The next morning, I experienced a warm welcome in the ESPON office and got to know a lot of new names and a lot of new faces, with the challenge to later connect the right face with the right name! This though got easier day by day and was supported by the way my stay was organised.

I changed my desk in the office a few times over the fortnight, which meant I was able to share office space with different colleagues. This not only helped me learn more about the content but also how the ESPON colleagues work and their individual approaches as well. I also had one-to-one meetings with the different colleagues, which meant I could ask specific questions about their work.

Last but not least, it was my pleasure to present to the whole ESPON team how we at Interact work and to share some key information about what we are working on.

Looking back at my two weeks at ESPON, I can say that I have learned a lot. My two weeks stay in Luxembourg has obviously broadened my understanding of what ESPON is really working on, and how they approach it. And, even more importantly, that ESPON offers great expertise and evidence on territorial cooperation may be not yet fully used by the Interreg community.

I hope that my stay at ESPON has laid the groundwork for bringing this expertise and evidence on territorial cooperation and the Interreg community closer together.

If it has also helped to bring ESPON and the Interact staff members closer to each other, I would be very happy. In this regard, I would be even more happy if we could welcome soon an ESPON colleague at one of our Interact offices!

Contact Philipp to find out more about how you can benefit from undertaking or hosting a staff exchange: [email protected]