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My visit to the University of Iceland as the first winner of the Aurora Diversity and Equality Award

Last year’s call for nomination for the Aurora Diversity and Equality award has resulted in a successful first edition, which enabled us to shed light on the most innovative, creative and transferrable projects in the realm of diversity. The panel of judges, with members from several Aurora partners, had the difficult task of choosing a winner for the first prize: a visit to a Aurora partner of choice, which would give both parties the opportunity to exchange best practices. Chace Hoch 2 from the University of Duisburg-Essen was proclaimed the winning initiative, and last June, Gabriele Spengler, program leader for this very project, has chosen to visit the University of Iceland, where she was warmly greeted by colleagues. Below you will find a summary of her visit.

Well prepared by the Equal Opportunities Officers Sveinn Guðmundsson and Arnar Gíslason, I landed in Reykjavik on Tuesday, 19th of June 2018, as the head of the Chance hoch 2 program. On Wednesday morning I was greeted warmly by Sveinn and Arnar in bright sunshine and then by Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, and Steinunn Gestsdóttir, Pro-Rector of Academic Affairs and Development, as well as Elísabet Brynjarsdóttir, President of the UI Student Council. They took time out for a brief exchange, although at the same time the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, was visiting to open an international congress, the European Academy of Management (EURAM) conference, which took place parallel to my visit.

Afterwards, the very productive discussions started with María Dóra, Head of Student Counseling and Career Center, and her colleagues, and afterwards with Guðrún Bachman, Public Relations Manager, responsible for Community projects for young people and the great University Train, who offers dynamic and exciting presentations of science and innovation for the public at every stop in Iceland. In the afternoon I give a lecture about Chance hoch 2 for Róbert H. Haraldsson, Director of the Division of Academic Affairs, Friðrika Þóra Harðardóttir, Director of The International Office, Ína Dögg Eyþórsdóttir, Project Manager Credential Evaluator, Jón Örn Guðbjartsson, Director of the Division of Marketing and Public Relations, María Dóra Björnsdóttir, Head of Student Counseling and Career Center, Guðrún Jónsdóttir Bachman, Public Relations Manager, Halldór Jónsson, Director of Division of Science and Research and Aurora Coordinator, Sonja Sigríður Jónsdóttir, Vice President of the UI Student Council, Gísli Hvanndal Ólafsson, Project Manager at the Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies, as well as Arnar Gíslason and Sveinn Guðmundsson followed by a very intensive professional discussion.

I got great impressions of the diversity and equality related work of the University of Iceland and was able to give some suggestions because of my work at Chance hoch 2. In the evening I met Hanna Ragnarsdóttir, Professor of Multicultural Studies and Head of Equality Committee, together with Arnar and Sveinn. After an excursion day on the Snæfellsnes peninsula I met Kolbrún Hrafnsdóttir, Public Relations Manager at the International Office, responsible for the foreign student mentoring program. The official program ended with a final discussion with Steinunn Gestsdóttir, Arnar and Sveinn, before Arnar, Sveinn and I watched the football game Iceland vs. Nigeria in the Football World Cup in a public viewing area near the University.

This visit marked the beginning of a successful collaboration that will continue over the next years, from which both sides can profit certainly. I thank the Aurora responsible very much that Chance hoch 2 got this award and that they made this valuable visit to the University of Iceland possible for me.

Gabriele Spengler, Head of Chance hoch 2, University Duisburg-Essen.


Picture: From left to right: Sveinn Guðmundsson, Arnar Gíslason, Jón Atli Benediktsson, Gabriele Spengler, Steinunn Gestsdóttir, Elísabet Brynjarsdóttir

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