A Chance to Expand your Horizons

Each participant has a role to play in The Women’s Academy for Rural Innovation. They bring different experiences and perspectives based on their specific roles and settings, which guarantees a stimulating discussion and plenty of ideas to debate and explore.

All participants are keen to take their rural area to the next level and to make a difference in their communities. The week-long programme will allow them to embrace different perspectives and consider how new technologies and innovation could be applied in their situation. They will explore Spanish culture and also make friends among peers living and working in similar environments in other European countries.

Bianca Maria Rizzo

"When I discovered that I had been selected to take part in the Women's Academy for Rural Innovation, I was really happy. I have been enthusiastic from that moment to the end of the Academy. I totally enjoyed the 5 days spent with the other 14 fantastic women and the team who worked to make those days unforgettable. The academy has been very informative about how to use innovation, but it has also been very inspiring for my personal growth. I had moments of weakness during the Academy due to the fact that I was confronted with things that I had ignored for a long time. Among them is the desire to build my future where I was born and raised. Patricia’s support made me accept this, the speeches of the various speakers made me understand that there are endless opportunities to achieve that dream by maximizing my potential as a leader. The closeness to the other participants gave me the certainty that I am not and will never be alone. The big thing of this experience is that it is not yet complete for me. The spurs received keep influencing all my actions and I feel full of energy and ideas. When I returned to Florence, where I live for work, things seemed totally different from the previous week. The only thing that has really changed is the fire that I feel in myself, the desire to conceive, share, and seriously accept all the challenges that life presents me with a proactive and constructive attitude. In less than a week I will return to my parents' house, see the friend with whom I had dreamed of creating a kindergarten in the woods and try to transmit everything that you have transmitted to me. I'm going through weeks of total openness to change, and I feel my approach will positively impact my future."

Anastasia Vezyroglou

"Inspiring, intense, fulfilling, challenging, life-changing. These are some of the words that come to my mind when I think about Women’s Academy for Rural Innovation. The very well-organized program was packed with panels, masterclasses, inspiring sessions and team building activities. We had the chance to learn from world-class experts (who turned from speakers into mentors during networking breaks), practice the skills we learned and form a unique family-like bond. The organizers cared deeply about us and were willing to do anything in their power to help us achieve our goals. The best part was that I was able to meet 14 wonderful, talented women from different backgrounds but yet so like-minded, deeply concerned about sustainability, women empowerment and eager to promote equality. They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone and this is definitely the case with this academy. You will laugh and stress and share and push yourself to the limits but then you will understand your true power and realize the limitless possibilities that lay ahead for you and the impact you can make to the lives of other women in your local community. And keep in mind that your interaction with European Leadership Academy doesn’t end when you go back home. On the contrary, the journey has just began!"

Telma Alexandra Ribeiro Moreira

"The Women's Academy for Rural Innovation" has been over for about a month at the time I am writing this, and I still can't believe I was a part of it. My first time applying to European Leadership Academy's schools was for Summer School in Prague. Unfortunately I wasn't selected, I stayed as a reserve candidate for Portugal. I got really sad because my willingness to be part of it was really high. But isn't it said that everything happens for a reason? 2 months after they announced The Women's Academy for Rural Innovation and this time I succeed with my application. I was raised and still live in the same rural area where I was born so I am a rural woman and I am proud of it. I therefore believe that this school's mission is even more in line with who I am and with the change I want to make in my community (and also in other rural areas). I am studying engineering and there are no job opportunities in my rural area for me. Nowadays it is easier to stay because I can do telework for almost all tech companies but I want to have an active role here, applying technology to improve connectivity in rural areas and give power to rural communities, particularly the least connected group of all - women in rural areas, I left this Academy more confident, more self-conscious, more empowered and with more than half a hundred new role models. I believe the following quote by Margaret Mead could have been written after observing the 15 #RuralChangeMakers of the Academy: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Magdalena Schwarzenlander

"Knowing that at this very moment somewhere in Europe a woman is building something that will help her rural area to flourish fills me with pure joy. Especially since being an innovative female change maker in a rural setting can feel lonely at times. Despite the ‘everybody knows me at least through a second cousin of my uncles neighbor’ way of how things work in rural communities (or maybe because of that?). It was a truly special week. Meeting a group of powerful female leaders from all walks of life, who either inspire with their merits or encourage with their motivation is a huge gift. I am so grateful for the opportunity and know that all of us will continue to not only empower others but also foster the interconnectivity of rural Europe. Rural IS the new cool."