30. September 2022

Promoting Staff Internationalization Promoting Staff Internationalization

Getting researchers, students, instructors and staff networked together internationally—preparing them for the challenges of a globalized labor market, in and outside of academia. These are the pursued goals under the University of Bonn’s Internationalization Strategy.

Learning from each other
Learning from each other - “Staff Week was valuable because we exchanged best practices, shared stories and learned from each other—mistakes included. It became evident that we all face challenges and that we can change things through dialogue, discussion and commitment. I discovered that we have partners in all corners on whom we can rely. I would always take part again to make new alliances, build bridges and form collaborative partnerships.” Rona Jualla van Oudenhoven, Netherlands © Gregor Hübl / University of Bonn
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Internationalization efforts include for example offering English courses in Ireland and Scotland for administrative staff, and offering work shadowing at European partner universities and other host institutions. Employees are able to brush up their foreign language competency and undergo an intensive intercultural experience as part of a staff exchange, broadening their horizons in learning about how things are done at other universities.

Many offers are available for University employees under the Erasmus Staff Training Mobility program, some of which are coordinated by our own HR staff development measures. The University’s motivation for recommending such measures to its staff is perfectly expressed by the Erasmus slogan: “Enriching lives, opening minds.” Staff are encouraged to explore new things, expand their frame of reference and enhance their competencies by leveraging our robust network of partner universities.

As Bärbel Konermann-Krüger explains: “The goal of internationalizing our administration can only be fully attained by getting all University members on board, including particularly those administrative staff members who implement our internationalization measures and work with international students and researchers.”

As manager of our staff mobility offerings for enhancing the intercultural competency of administrative staff, Bärbel works tirelessly to promote the various exchange options available: “Many hesitate to take advantage of the possibilities out of concern over what all has to be taken care of while they are away, looking at their desk full of work—or they may worry that their English is less than superb,” she notes. For the most part however, such concerns prove unfounded, and most people end up really enjoying the international contacts they make.

“It is such a personal enrichment, everyone finds.” This was her take-away as well from International Staff Week, held recently by the University of Bonn for the first time, at which 15 international guests from our partner institutions and five University of Bonn staff members shared their experiences and perspectives around “diversity at the workplace”. The valuable experiences they described yielded inspiration and beneficial networking for all who attended, for their own jobs. Remaining in contact is an expressly planned element in this special week, so staff will continue to profit from dialogue with outsiders who have a different frame of reference, affording insights of interest relating to their own jobs.

Expectations exceeded
Expectations exceeded - “Staff Week went way beyond my expectations. We thoroughly discussed many more topics than I’d imagined and discovered different ways of thinking and working. Thanks to our differences, we could learn more from this week than from any other comparable event I participated in before. Since my return, we have implemented strategies at my home university to become more aware of our international facets and to take advantage of our multiculturality. I would definitely recommend applying for a staff week—it’s the best way to combine work and travel while truly broadening your horizons.” Clémentine Ducornet, France © Gregor Hübl / University of Bonn
Interacting with colleagues
Interacting with colleagues - “International Staff Week at the University of Bonn was a great experience for me, both professionally and personally. It was great to learn more about and discuss the topics we are working on with colleagues from all over the world. I would definitely recommend others to join—it was very rewarding to be in a different environment, get interesting input and to be able to share this with colleagues from other universities.” Mark de Vos, Denmark © Gregor Hübl / University of Bonn
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