O S E A S * E U R O P E

Introduction to the Athens Conference Report

Terhi Molsa, Chair of Conference Organizing Committee

Dear Colleagues, Dear Friends of OSEAS,

It is a privilege to write the introduction to the Report on the 5th European Educational Advising Conference "OSEAS-Europe 1995'  the largest overseas advising conference ever organized.

"OSEAS-Europe 1995" was a remarkable mile-stone for advising in Europe and beyond. The conference in Athens brought together a record-breaking 289 international educators from 49 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and South America.

Dozens of European advisers contributed to sessions by serving as speakers or chairs, or assisting in the logistical work for the conference, making the event a powerful demonstration of European advisers' professionalism and volunteerism. Also, our colle agues from outside Europe (including a larger participation from the United States than ever before) actively contributed to the success of the conference by serving as speakers, volunteers, or resource people. This joint effort demonstrated by the Athens conference is something to be very proud of.

In addition to the remarkable human investment into the conference, we have our financial sponsors and contributors to thank for our success. First of all, we are grateful to the United States Information Agency (USIA) which was involved in the financial planning of the conference from the very beginning of the planning in 1991. We are also indebted to the many companies, organizations, as well as individuals whose financial contribution helped us carry our plans into reality. The efforts of the conferenc e committee and particularly the hard work of the Fulbright Foundation in Athens resulted in that a significant portion of the conference budget  including several travel grants to participants, speakers and resource people  came from fundraising.

With these resources  human and financial  the Athens conference was able to offer many new opportunities and events to participants. For the first time in an OSEAS conference participants in Athens were given access to a Computer Learning Lab, which al lowed for hands-on practice in advising-related technology.

A full-day College Fair was also introduced for the first time in conjunction with an advising conference. One of the several "firsts" introduced by the Athens conference is also this Final Report with conference session minutes. The Conference Organizing Committee has produced it for two purposes. First, the Report is to be a permanent record of conference session minutes, which allows for the participants to review the information shared at various sessions. It also helps those who were not able to part icipate in all sessions of their interest, or even the whole conference, to have access to the information shared in Athens.

Secondly, the Organizing Committee hopes that this report will be of concrete help to future conference organizers. For this purpose we have included a wide selection of materials: the conference program, session minutes and some handouts, computer learni ng lab staff report, copies of evaluation forms, even copies of thank you notes and other feedback sent to the Committee and to the Fulbright Foundation in Athens stating those specific features which the participants found most useful at the conference.

The complete Report is available as a printed version only. However, to allow for as wide as possible an access to the key information on the conference, the session minutes are also available electronically in the NAFSA gopher as well as on the OSEAS-Europe WWW. (Please see the section on minutes for instructions for retrieval.)

Conferences are starting points for new endeavors. At the Athens conference, dozens of new initiatives were started, mentoring relationships begun, joint projects sparked off, information and new ideas shared, and contacts created between European offices and with our colleagues across the seas. Even the initiative for "The OSEAS-Europe Board", the first democratically elected regional body of overseas advisers in the world, was initiated in Athens  and it became a reality only a half-a-year later. It is in the effort to help keep up the "Athens momentum" that we publish this Report.

In Vantaa, Finland, 25 March 1996

On behalf of the Conference Organizing Committee,

Terhi Molsa

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