In summer 2021 the third-party funded project “WELCOME” started at Harz University of Applied Sciences. Funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) the aim of the program HAW.International is to support and further develop the internationalization of Universities of Applied Sciences in Germany.
To reach the overall goal of becoming more international, the team is working on several sub-projects. One of them includes strengthening the welcoming culture by offering workshops to improve the intercultural skills of staff members. In addition, the bilingualism is extended by offering language courses in English, translating documents and signs on campus and updating the English website. Besides, the team is working on organizing and promoting teaching and blended mobilities which was quite a task during the Covid-19 pandemic when everyone was supposed to stay at home instead of traveling around the globe.
Therefore, the WELCOME team was even more excited to travel to Barcelona to join this year´s EAIE, which did not take place the last two years due to the pandemic. That is why everyone was immensely happy to get together again and meet their partners in person.
Elske Springer-Wichmann, a member of the WELCOME team, talks about their trip to Barcelona in this interview:
The conference was organized by the European Association for International Education (EAIE). With over 6.300 participants from over 90 countries the conference took place from September 13th to 16th 2022 at a large conference venue in Barcelona. The organizers of the conference also put great effort into being as sustainable as possible by honoring people traveling green (by bus, ship or bike), serving only vegetarian food throughout the whole conference and trying to avoid as much waste as possible (especially unnecessary paper brochures).
During the conference university representatives, professors, staff members of international offices and all kind of stakeholders involved in the international education business gathered to exchange ideas as well as discuss challenges the pandemic and other external impacts brought to the education sector. For us it was a pleasure to represent the Harz UAS by meeting representatives from partner universities from all over the world.
We had meetings mainly with our European partners, for instance, from France, Finland and Switzerland, but also with partners from South Africa and New Zealand. We were able to talk about our cooperations, ways to work successfully together in the future and about overall impressions students have during their semester abroad.
Also, the concept of blended and short term mobilities - for instance summer and winter schools as well as staff weeks - was discussed which seems to hold opportunities many students and staff members are interested in.
Besides catching up with existing partners there was also time to establish new contacts. While walking around the different booths at the large exhibition hall we were able to get an impression of other universities and their campus and study programs. In addition to the exhibition hall a large variety of workshop sessions were conducted in which participants talked about different aspects of internationalization in education, for instance, internationalization at home, sustainable development, digitalization and stakeholder engagement. Next to the workshop sessions there was also an opening reception on the first evening where we were able to enjoy Spanish music and tapas and chat with different people more informally in a relaxing atmosphere.
Next to meeting our partner universities another impressive experience was joining the opening plenary with the guest speaker Yalda Hakim, an award-winning foreign correspondent. Hakim held an intense speech about the high impact of education for people from less privileged countries also referring to her own cultural background as a woman from Afghanistan, where girls are not allowed to go to school and university any more now that the Taliban are back in power.
Overall being part of the EAIE conference 2022 was great to hear and exchange ideas about internationalization in education which not only helped us to bring back contacts and ideas to Harz UAS but also broadened our personal horizon. It was a great experience taking part in the EAIE conference and being able to get to know such a vibrant city as Barcelona on top of that.
The conference was organized by the European Association for International Education (EAIE). With over 6.300 participants from over 90 countries the conference took place from September 13th to 16th 2022 at a large conference venue in Barcelona.