Celebrating Achievements and Embracing the Future: MILIEU’s Final Chapter

After a fruitful and exciting three years that passed by unbelievably fast, our team had to face one last challenge – our very own final dissemination event, where the results from our project would be presented and our work discussed at length with EC officials and project officers. The moment of truth, so to speak!

Would the outcome of our sincere and time-consuming efforts be considered productive enough or not? Would the quality of our hard work be ranked highly or poorly, and what would be a good way to highlight our most important contributions? These were just a few of the many questions that we were pondering in the months leading up to the dissemination meeting in Brussels.

Knowing how long it takes to organize a proper academic event, we chose to initiate our preparations as early as July, after successfully carrying out the MILIEU PhD Summer School in Borovetz (12-16 July 2023). The logistics, however complicated for a small team of three based in an altogether different country and previously unfamiliar with Belgium, turned out to be worth it! After a brief period of excited confusion, we quickly selected a date, venue, and catering services, then came up with an exhaustive list of selected invitees – including, but not limited to, representatives of Belgium’s most active and well known NGO’s, research bodies and charities, as well as multiple members of the European Parliament.

On our big day at the House of the Permanent Representation of Bulgaria in Brussels we were accompanied by our colleagues from UniGe Anna Siri and Carla Maria Reale, plus several of our partners from Universidad Complutense de Madrid – Liisa Irene Hänninen, Olga Kolotouchkina, Juan Pavón Mestras, Patricia Núñez Gómez and Clara Sánchez-Rebato Valiente. We started by listing our results and achievements and explaining how we had dealt with the obstacles we had encountered. Our ambitious project coordinator Lyuba Spasova shed light on the topic, goal and overall objectives of MILIEU, then introduced the consortium members and the part each of them had played. Towards the end of the presentation, Lyuba gave the word to our partners and supporters in order to hear what working together on MILIEU has taught them.

In spite of the high-stakes nature of the event, everyone’s anxiety seemed to gradually melt away during the testimonies, instead giving way to enthusiasm. This feels like an appropriate way to finalize the MILIEU H2020 Project – “Women, Disability, and Inclusion – Scientific Excellence in Bulgaria,” funded under the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program in the Call H2020-WIDESPREAD-2018-2020 / H2020-WIDESPREAD-2020-5: Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation—Twining. On the surface it might look like its main contributions are the three immensely successful international conferences, five summer schools, multiple lecture courses on various ESR (such as “Writing with a tutor”) and GDI-related topics (let’s not forget about the “Gender and sexuality” and “Disability and social inclusion” online courses), the countless informative online seminars, the exchange agreements with three different prestigious foreign institutions, or IPS’s first-ever gender equality plan, but MILIEU has always been about more than just excellence – it’s about sustaining the progress we have made by forging reliable connections with like-minded partners who believe in equality and dream of making a difference in an overall ignorant and unjust world. That is why we are grateful to have met and collaborated with each of our participants, and we hope for more opportunities to keep doing so in the future.

Thanks, everyone, and see you soon, we continue our work in the years to come!