Dr Herrmann, you coordinate the Chapter. Can you tell us about its creation?
The idea of an Estonian MCAA Chapter originally came from my colleague Dr Ira Didenkulova. She learned about the MCAA during a meeting in Brussels, when she contributed to the evaluation report about the Marie Curie programme. We thought that it was sad, that the MCAA was not more known and better utilised. Both of us are Alumni of the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation which has a very good Alumni network.
When she found the call for new chapters, we decided to apply and contacted some colleagues who we knew are Marie Curie Alumni and encouraged them to join the MCAA.
With the Estonian Chapter, we hope to transfer our good experience with the Humboldt network to the MCAA.
How many members do you have and how many are you targeting?
We have seven members, including six founding members. Currently there are 14 Estonians registered in the MCAA, so obviously we are targeting those, plus the foreigners spending their fellowship in Estonia or those who have chosen to move here after their fellowship. With Estonia being a small country, the number of members will stay relatively small. The Homboldt club in Estonia has about 30 members, and we can probably achieve a similar number. Over time, we are also open to welcoming members of other Baltic states.
What activities are you planning?
We are planning several meetings; families will also be invited to some of these to encourage not only professional connections, but also personal interaction. To find new members, we plan to present the chapter at EURAXESS events, which are attended by many foreign researchers in Estonia. Also, we present posters and distribute flyers at different conferences in the Baltic States. Additionally, we're using social networks to raise awareness of our activities.
What would you tell members to encourage them to join?
While Estonia is a small country and everyone seems to be reachable and many people know each other, sometimes there also seems to be an unfortunate lack of communication. We would like to change this. Joining the Estonian Chapter is a great way to exchange experience, find new collaborators and friends.