After this session, the project officer Dr. Laurence Marrama-Rakotoarivony introduced herself. She talked about Marie Curie’s action, explained the purpose of the meeting and what she expected from the network. Her talk was very informative for us as it provided us with information on how the grant is organised and with some new insights and details. We had a short break, afterward during which the nervousness level started to go up again. We were the next ones to present!
However, this anxiety just went away quickly as we all knew that everything was well-planned and rehearsed. Our presentations soon became a platform to share ideas with very interesting questions from everyone, even the project officer! I believe we were able to provoke her interest. We think that we did a good job (of course the same for all the participants) and now we could say that: yeah! eating a banana works (scientifically too, I guess)!
After finishing this most exciting part, we had a more relaxing private meeting with the project officer. She answered many of our questions that were mostly related to the duration of the PhD and the delays caused by COVID-19. Thanks to the excellent work from Lara Hassan and the management board, we were already aware of many topics related to our rights and duties, such as taking language classes, which most of us are doing. It was very nice to have the opportunity to talk to the project officer in a close session as she was very helpful and open with her answers.
Finally, one of the most important parts of the day: the feedback! At this point, we were not nervous because we were pretty sure the feedback would be very positive. We have always been impressed by the amazing organization of our network and its programme, starting from the support and supervision we receive as early-stage researchers to the learning and collaboration opportunities we gain for our research projects. Smiling, we heard Dr. Marrama-Rakotoarivony say all these things and gave some advice to polish this already well-organized program, highlighting that we are in a good direction.
It was a very long day for all of us, but even longer for the management board and the project officer because they had more to discuss afterward. We were tired but happy, looking at the Zoom Bingo and feeling the short moment of relief that everything went well. Suddenly, someone asked, “but… why is “Spotting a pet” crossed? Who had a pet?!”. The rest of us incredulously answered, “the project officer! Dr. Marrama-Rakotoarivony’s cat appeared on the screen! how could you miss it?!”
Well, someone did not win the Bingo after all.