With great anticipation, the HAPPY Project was launched on the 6th of April 2021 at Royal Thimphu College (RTC) in Thimphu. The opening was attended by the President and Dean of Academics of RTC, followed by the focal person from the Office of Vice Chancellor (OVC), project members of RTC, Sherubtse College, College of Cultural Studies (CLCS) and Norbuling Rigter College (NRC). The project website has also launched: https://happy-project.eu/
The project is the first of its kind to take place at a national level with a core focus on discussing ways of improving qualitative research methodology (QRM) by introducing new pedagogical approaches to contribute to sustainable development at the level of state, civil society, business, and local communities, in dealing with rapid social change, cultural preservation and promotion, and climate change.
The ultimate objectives of the kick-off meeting were to officially introduce the respective colleges and members, share experiences, discuss about the project’s financial budget & management. During the morning sessions, the Bhutanese partners discussed the plan of action for the project at each institute, conducting baseline analysis of the QRM at each institution and financial management. During the afternoon sessions, all of the Bhutanese and European partners (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands), Leiden University (Netherlands), the Institute for Innovation and Development (Slovenia) and the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) joined via Zoom – each college presented a brief introductory presentation on their respective institution on the first day of the afternoon session. In the following two afternoon sessions, the project team discussed briefly about the Project Management, Financial Management, Partnership Agreement, Quality Assurance parameters, Dissemination & Exploitation plans and upcoming programs for the next three years. The members had an exciting virtual meeting followed by interesting energizers organised by Ms. Mekky (VU) in between the meetings to keep the participants focused.
The Bhutanese members had the opportunity to meet each other in person and discuss their expectations and upcoming events/arrangements. They talked about the project and their aims over tea and lunch. Meeting the European members via Zoom created a new energy amongst the members and they looked forward to meeting each other in person in the future when the risks of COVID-19 lightens.
However, it was emphasised at the meeting to think about ways to sustain the impact of the project past its deadline. For this, it is necessary to look at the HAPPY Project as beyond the current project goals.
Mrs. Collete Gerards opened Day 3’s virtual meeting with three presentations specifically focusing Project – Financial – Partnership Management followed by discussions and alignment from each individual member. Concluding statements were made by the main coordinators from all the partner colleges and then we officially declared the in-person kick off meeting closed until another virtual meeting on the 13th & 15th of April 2021. These meetings will first involve a detailed session for relevant administrative persons (coordinators + finance officials) on project & financial management, then finish up with work-package (WP) activities planning with the WP leaders. With this, the HAPPY kick-off is officially concluded and the project is launched!