International Engagement Circus United E³UDRES² Members in Hasselt

The International Engagement Circus (IEC) in a nutshell? That is 2 locations, 3 days, 20 entrepreneurs/inspirators, 26 staff and 65 international students. Over 100 participants  gathered in Hasselt and Diepenbeek, Belgium, to Unite, Ignite and Hack. Participants went from dancing in the chapel to hacking at the campus. But above all, the group achieved an important goal: Strengthening the bonds within the E³UDRES² alliance and generating output for future activities. Fransje Immink drew a recap of every day of the IEC - the pictures give a great impression of the event:

Day 1: Family gathering at a former chapel

Day 1 set the stage for collaborative innovation by challenging the myth of perfection and embracing diversity, and for the Identity Quest to explore core values and driving forces. The day aimed to ignite a collective consciousness, preparing participants for transformative action in the days to come. In the early afternoon, Roger Heijmans (UC Leuven-Limburg UAS project lead), Kim Plevoets (Dean of the Faculty of Management) and Jan Kriekels (Belgian challenger from the very beginning and CEO of JAGA) kicked off the first day with some mind-blowing food for thought. When two alumni, Robbe and Nick, shared their experience with E³UDRES², the students were all ears. Finally, all participants teamed up in 10 teams to explore their core values through building a race course for pearls with post-its and tape. A little bit of healthy competition was just around the corner.

The group finished the day with a Belgian signature dish: Fries from the fritkot, a typical Belgian vending place for fries, and they got to enjoy a musical evening in the chapel. To emphasize the unity of the event and of the alliance, participants received a E³UDRES² passport - they are now E³UDRES² citizens, a true part of the European University. Fittingly, the participants received a very first stamp from the International Engagement Circus in it.

Day 2: Ignite SparkMakers and Get inspired

Day 2 aimed to spark transformative dialogue among diverse stakeholders, from Gen Z to policymakers. Through interactive fishbowl discussions and talks, participants explored key themes like happiness, digital twins, and societal resilience. Roel Mentens, Dave Seré, Pieter Seyssens, Bart Wolfs, Stijn Scholts, Stef Swinnen, Sara Gilissen, David Bamps, Katrien Herdewyn, Kevin Moons, Tom Pennings and Wendy Cortinovis interacted closely with the students and staff and stimulated them to become a SparkMaker.

During lunch and an afternoon break, attendees were served signature dishes from all 9 E³UDRES² partners - from Hungarian stuffed peppers and Finnish meat balls to Portuguese Pasteis de Nata and Austrian Apfelstrudel.
The day concluded with a dinner to recognize pioneering stakeholders and solidify long-term partnerships for regional innovation. To emphasize the ignition of SparkMakers, the organizing team offered all participants a E³UDRES² pin - a token of the European University to convey the E³UDRES² mission at all times.

Day 3: The Big Hack – Elevate yourself

The last day of the event aimed to fast-track innovation through a pressure cooker hackathon. No time to waste! Dynamic teams were formed for rapid ideation, and after a quick course in AI tools and some last expert insights, the participants were ready to go. In just a few hours, 8 teams came up with 8 challenges that will be further explored in future E³UDRES² activities, such as the Hackathon and the I Living Labs.

Lunch was served by local start-up Lomi, providing nutritious, healthy and sustainable sandwiches. The event concluded with drinks and lively chats. Cheers to a successful International Engagement Circus! Many thanks to all students for their collaboration and efforts put into the activities, to the staff for their support, and to the challengers for their great cooperation up until now. Lastly, participants received E³UDRES² shoelaces. A small gift to remember the IEC by.


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