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Sunday 17 July 2022

7 things I liked about EERA’s Summer school in Porto, and 3 areas which could be improved …


Just as each one of us is unique, our PhD journey will also be unique. However, very often there are common elements. Being able to engage in networking activities with other doctoral candidates at an early stage of one’s PhD journey therefore proves to be a very enriching experience. This is why I would like to share with you my personal experience of participating in my first EERA - European Educational Research Association’s summer school.

To give you some background information, I just finished the 3rd semester of my PhD programme at the University of Luxembourg. My research topic is “Perceptions and attitudes of the vocational education and training actors related to soft skills needed for employment”, an extremely important topic, especially in today’s context in which local employers are increasingly challenged to find employees equipped with industry-ready skills. 

In this context, I am very grateful to have been one of the lucky few - and the only one from Luxembourg - accepted in EERA’s Summer School 2022 at the University of Porto in Portugal. I also wish to express my gratitude to my Doctoral School of Humanities and Social Sciences for their support of my participation in this 1-week intensive summer school.

Below, I list 7 things that I really liked about the summer school, as well as 3 areas which could be improved: 

  1. The host country - I love Portugal for many reasons, the amazing food being just one of them. However, what made me place the host country as my #1 was the time difference, which allowed me to gain 1 hour in the morning. All of our workshops began at 9 am, which for me was 10 am (Luxembourg time) and, as I am not an early bird, this was great for me.
  2. As a self-funded student, the summer school was an amazing opportunity to meet and interact with other researchers who are in the same research stage as me. It really helps knowing that one is not the only one struggling with the research design at times, for example in making sure that the proposed research questions and the methodology are aligned. 
  3. This summer school was a great chance to benefit from tutoring by experienced researchers. My group tutors were Xana Sá Pinto and Joana Lúcio, who both took their job to heart. I am grateful for their generosity, encouragement and support throughout the summer school. The doubts I was having about one of my research questions are now gone and I can focus with confidence on the current research design. 

4. The organization of the summer school was perfect! Only someone who has organized an event, themselves, could understand the complexity of the undertaking, how many resources are required and how much time and energy goes into the organization of such an event. There are the logistical components: placing all the participants into various hotels located within 10 minutes by metro from the university, arranging the meals, providing the buses for our trip to the University of Minho, assigning people to small groups by research topic and tutors to each group, planning the rooms, and so on. Then there is the matter of the programme: combining hands-on small group working sessions with plenary sessions featuring keynote speakers who are experts on topics of general interest for all researchers, plus organizing field trips. Kudos to the organization team, you’ve done an amazing job!  

5. This experience was a wonderful motivational factor! The PhD journey is quite a lonely one, especially for someone like me who is a self-funded student, and motivation has its ups and downs at times. It was extremely enriching for me to be together with other emerging researchers from a variety of countries/universities, and to learn about the diversity of their topics of research. In addition to the learning factor, I greatly appreciate the motivation and enthusiasm I feel now, upon my return home, to further work on my research project. 

6. I value the multicultural aspect of the training, enhanced by the diversity of participants, very much. Beyond our research projects, we also exchanged views about our universities, PhD programmes and supervisors. It was very interesting to discover that some universities offer different PhD programmes than those that we have at the University of Luxembourg. Our diverse backgrounds and experiences also contributed to the rich discussions and varied perspectives on the same topics of discussion, a valuable aspect of the summer school.

7.This event allowed us to establish direct contact with the editors of the Portuguese Journal of Education. During our visit to the University of Minho in Braga, we were offered the opportunity to get in touch with the editorial team of a prestigious education journal indexed by Scopus. The Board/Deputy Director, Iris Pereira, took the time, during her sabbatical year, to present to us the Portuguese Journal of Education and offer us some tips on how to approach the writing of a journal article and the publication process. Thank you very much!

As any PhD student, it’s part of my job to always suggest some things that could be improved, so below you will find my observations:


  1. Some of the participants had a hard time explaining their research in English, which made the conversation a bit challenging at times. A B1+ level in English would be, in my opinion, a minimum needed to participate and be able to properly interact with the other participants.
  2. We were not able to receive a participant list to see what universities the other PhD students were coming from. The GDPR is making the life of event organizers, entrepreneurs and researchers alike, a lot more complicated. Knowing that the GDPR was a legislative proposal of my political party (CSV) colleague, Viviane Reding, motivates me even more to be involved in Luxembourgish politics and hopefully get elected next year. 
  3. There were entirely too many pastries - you know how good the Portuguese pastries are… though delicious, two tables full of pastries at each of our coffee breaks were too much for me. I think I took home a few extra kilos from this summer school.

To sum up, EERA - European Educational Researchers Association’s summer school offered its participants incredible value. I highly appreciated the quality of the activities provided, the networking opportunities, and the motivational factor. 

I sincerely thank the entire team of EERA for another amazing job done and I highly recommend all EERA’s events to emerging researchers. I look forward to seeing some of the participants again at the Emerging Researchers’ Conference in Yerevan next month, whether face to face or online. 

Thank you for your visit, as well as for your interest in my PhD journey!  
Feel free to leave me your comments and suggestions, I’d be happy to hear from you.

#myphdjourney #myPhD

#softskillsforEmployment #employability

#employabilityskills #softskills #transversalskills #essentialskills #research #education #future


Saturday 2 July 2022

10 Romanian start-ups worth knowing

Yesterday took place the warm-up event for the Romanian Pavilion by RomLux at ICT Spring 2022, we’ve had such an amazing gathering of Romanian and Luxembourgish entrepreneurs & business people: Pranjul Shah, Emilia Tantar, PhD, Radu State, Cosmin Cosma, Marco Houwen (CPC, ELI-MP), Alex Panican, Madalina Popescu, the cosmonaut Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu.

A special focus was put on the 10 start-ups that are part of the Romanian Pavillion at ICT Spring. Don’t miss the chance to get in touch today and tomorrow with these 10 very innovative technologically advanced companies: 

FINQWARE : is set to become the preferred open banking provider for large companies in the EU, empowering CFOs, treasurers and accountants to leverage open banking for real-time cash management, reconciliations, collections and payments automation.

EMAILTREE : developed an AI platform to extract the essence of the incoming messages from any channel, advise the best possible answer and perform tasks automatically.

FARM.XYZ : The Ultimate Multi-Chain Staking Platform – they are turning Yield Farming into Structured Assets.

HOLARDEV : is developing innovating software projects, based on Augmented Reality & Artificial Intelligence, such as AnimateAR, Holographic Digital Menu, and HOLOTRAIN – an Interactive V-Learning Platform.

CLAPART : media company using blockchain technology to connect creators and fans on a descentralised platform where intellectual property rights and financial laws are exchanged using revolutionary RST protocol.

ADAMO TECHNOLOGY : IT & Management Consulting services in multiple industries and cross sectors with focus on highly skilled expertise in the newest technologies as: Big data, Cloud, Analytics, Data Science, AI, ML, Blockchain, Appian BPM.

FRONTIER PENTA/FRONTIER CONNECT : Lumbara digital solution (software & IOT devices) for agriculture, sustainable urbanism, green city, vertical/roofs urban gardens and circular economy, smart water capture and reusage, smart buildings facility management.

LuxCreators.lu : offers a complete set of solutions to help organisations with their technological innovation (AI, Machine Learning, and Automation services), digital transformation and marketing services.

MEANINGFY : provides data-driven tech solutions, as well as consulting and software development services to clients within Europe in the areas of Semantic Web, Natural Language Processing, Data Science, and other related areas. 

PANDEMSAFE : helps organisations operate effectively during pandemics and beyond by digitising the newly rolled out processes to cope with the specific needs brought by the new business as usual (i.e. contact tracing, document and hybrid work management solutions).

Congratulations to the president of Romania Luxembourg Business Forum Asbl, Razvan Radu, and the organization team: Iulia Gay, Beatrice Bucur, Gabriel Florea, you did a fantastic job! The food was provided by Epicerie Fine Transilvania, the wines by Romanian WINES, thanks to the generosity of their owners.


3 things I loved about Sacred Heart University Alumni gathering and 1 that I disliked...

Last Friday, on the 1st of July, took place a reunion of Sacred Heart University Alumni, on a beautiful Navitour boat in Remich. 

It’s been almost 20 years since I graduated from Jack Welch College of Business. I started my MBA in 2001 and took my time to get a double concentration, in both Marketing and International business, graduating in 2003. We all know how expensive an MBA is. In my case though, this privilege of being able to do an MBA and even to take more classes that I needed for graduation is explained by the fact that the university offered me throughout my studies a working contract as academic assistant. My remuneration was in nature: my rent and my classes. 

A couple of years after graduation, in 2005, I was elected president of the alumni association, then re-elected for a second term, which lasted until 2010, when I didn't present myself for a 3rd term. However, in 2011, because the alumni association was no longer active, the university's leadership team asked me to serve once again as president. I can therefore say very proudly that I am the longest serving president of the alumni association with 3 non-consecutive terms. 

As the longest serving president of the alumni association, I was extremely happy to hear last year about the initiative taken by a group of students and recent graduates to animate the alumni network, organize gatherings and take initiatives to give visibility to alumni. Yesterday’s boat party was part of this strategy and I was happy to support it and participate in it. 

I listed below 3 things I loved about the Alumni boat party and 1 thing that I disliked.

Let’s start with the positive:

#1 Fantastic location


#2 Because of the pandemic, the 2020, 2021 and 2022 graduates didn’t get a proper graduation ceremony. This was a great way to honor them and publicly recognize their achievement, together with family and friends. Congratulations everyone for this amazing achievement!

#3 The organization of the event was great: good food, open bar until 3 am, nice music, both live and with a DJ, nice show to introduce the deserts, all in all: great ambiance! I particularly appreciated the organization of a bus shuttle from and back to Luxembourg-city. This allowed the guests to have a drink or two without worrying about driving back. 

There was one thing that I strongly disliked on Friday: during the entire evening, all speakers used “SHULU” abbreviation and not once has the full name "Sacred Heart University Alumni Association" been mentioned. In addition, and this really upset me me, one speaker told us that if we didn’t know where the name “SHULU” was coming from, we were in luck that night to find out that: and I quote <<the “LU” part of “SHULU” comes actually from French. More particularly from “Loulou” which is a name French use with someone they love.>> ... As someone who served 3 times as president of the Sacred Heart University Alumni Association, I was very surprised to hear such a thing.... In the past, the alumni association was referred in writing as SHULA, which is quite obvious where it comes from... 

Coming back to the alumni, my congratulations once again to the recent graduates! 

Congratulations as well to the informal Alumni Committee who organized the event. I trust that this informal alumni group will, under the leadership of my friend, Sahil GOEL, become an asbl, like it  used to be when I served as president. I passed on to his Committee all the archives my committee and I kept since our 3 terms serving the alumni. 

Knowing Sahil, I trust that he will continue to keep the standards high. And, despite the saddness of the LUxembourg campus being shut down this month, I hope that he will document the activities of the alumni association, since this year we should celebrate 30 years since the university started to offer the programme in Luxembourg... 

N.B. A little bonus for those of you who got to read until here: the history and the bright past of the alumni association in Luxembourg needs to be kept alive, so that one can better envision the future of the Sacred Heart University Alumni Association. 

SHUL Graduation Dinner, 24th June 2005

Summary of the activities organized 
during the 1st term as SHULA President by Clara Moraru

                                 The 2007 Board: Pierre Arens, Georges Muller, Clara Moraru, 
                                       Christian Denizon, Jos Giannandrea (from left to right)

The 2012 Executive Comittee of the Alumni Association: 
Pierre Arens, Clara Moraru, David Brucklacker
(from left to right)
Fall Alumni Reunion, 
with guest speaker Vinciance Istace, 24th November 2006

  Fall SHUL Alumni Reunion, 
with guest speaker Pascal Koster, November 2007

SHUL Alumni Reception at the US Embassy, 

with guest speaker Edmond Israel, June 2007

Spring SHULA Reunion, 

with guest speaker Michal Wittmann, 29th February 2008 on the topic MBA & Politics

Press release, 2008
Press release, 2011

SHUL Graduation Dinner, 17th June 2011, at Parc Belair Hotel

Clara Moraru, Hedda Pahlson-Moller, Tatiana Majerus, 
18th June 2011

Spring Alumni Reunion, 
with guest speaker Georges Muler, 14 March 2012

    SHUL 25th year celebrations at the Philharmonie Luxembourg, 
15th June 2017

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