Resistance, Resilience & Adaptation: Getting Ready for the IP

Meet the IP 2013 Krakow Team

everything will be ok...1

Floor Boele van Hensbroek│floorbvh@gmail.com

On a sunny day in Krakow I met with IP organisers Juan, Luc and Karolina at cozy café Karma, one of the favourite hangouts of some of the team members. Here, I had the chance to ask them all about the upcoming Intensive Programme. Because, as we all know, IP 2013 is getting closer. In June, MA Euroculture students will travel to Krakow from every corner of Europe to experience a mind-blowing week full of lectures, discussions, presentations and urban challenges. A week’s worth of memories for every Euroculturer and an excellent opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. The IP team is working very hard to make this week a great success. Now it’s time to ask them about their experiences with organising IP 2013!

Who is in the IP team?

three all together smaller
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

Karolina (middle), the feminine side and head of the crew, steers and manages all activities related to MA Euroculture and the IP. A Polish-Canadian with a weakness for cinnamon-oatmeal muffins and peanut butter, she brings enthusiasm and comradeship to the team.

Juan (right), one of the few Mexicans dwelling in Krakow, runs the programme’s PR, visual ‘identity’ and acts as a student advisor. He will take good care of you and if you’re lucky (and have a gusto for spicy food) he might allow you to taste some his famous tacos.

Luc (left), Kung-Fu apprentice and an expert on transport and geopolitics of the North, comes to us from Quebec and assists the programme as an internal advisor. His fine sense of humour will guarantee an all-but-boring stay in Krakow.

 Hey guys… Uhm, everything under control?

(Whispers amongst each other: “don’t mention the… you know what”)

J: No, all jokes aside, it’s going great!

(All three nod in agreement)

Could you describe IP 2013 in one sentence?

K: A fun opportunity for students to meet, exchange and engage with each other and produce something within their environment, at the local level, and as much as possible in an eco-friendly, gender-balanced, budget-conscious and stimulating way. Oh, and in a fun and welcoming atmosphere!

(But that was two sentences?!)

How did you decide on the theme and subthemes of the upcoming IP?

J: Last summer, we had a few sessions with other people from the institute in which we asked ourselves ‘what are the issues concerning Europe nowadays?’ Those were really nice sessions.

K: One important issue we knew that had to be addressed is of course the crisis, which is hanging over Europe like a dark cloud. However the idea was to reframe it by asking the question: how can we move forward?

L: Yes, we wanted to approach the crisis not as a crisis, but as a period of change and adaptation.

we are the best
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

If you had to write a paper yourself for the IP, what would it be about?

J: I would definitely choose the subtheme ‘Change and the City’. What I’m interested in is the link between cities and literature: how the city is imagined and created within literature.

K: I would definitely focus on the subtheme ‘the Shifting Borders of Inclusion/Exclusion’. My own research interest is in integration policies and how such policies construct ‘the other’.

L: I would write something on mobility and transport. In Europe transport is very expensive and there is much discrepancy between people who have access to it and people who don’t have access; between people who control their mobility and who don’t control their mobility. It’s a social and geopolitical issue.

While planning the upcoming IP, what was some important feedback from previous years that you had to take into account?

J: Student engagement and student participation. Students wanted to be more involved and not only listen the whole time; so not only input but also output. Therefore we focused a lot on student engagement and participation. We are quite confident that this indeed will happen.

What distinguishes IP Krakow from the previous IPs so far?

L: We draw on what has already been done before and try to innovate. Every IP has brought something new. I think the key thing this year is the urban challenge. Also, we are working in a different setting and staging, we are trying to make it more cool and fun.

let us think..
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

Could you describe the group dynamics within the IP team?

L: Well, we are friends before co-workers. We know each other very well and communication always goes easy. Sometimes we don’t even need words to understand each other. I also think that we have complementary skills and assets.

K: If you find a document that’s color-coded: Luc made it. You see a funky blurry postmodern design? Definitely Juan.

(And Karolina?)

J: Karo brings all the skills together and makes it work. The fact that we are all friends is definitely an extra motivation. By the way, Karo plays basketball at the office; it relaxes her when she’s stressed. Oh…and she has a whip.

What is the biggest challenge in organising this IP?

L+K+J: Money…(rubbing thumb and fingers together).

K: There were also some smaller challenges, but the fact that this year we had a smaller budget definitely caused the biggest challenge.

J: However, because the budget got smaller we were forced to adapt to it and actually became very creative. We have a different mindset now and are adapting very well.

L: In the end, it is OK to have less money. We’ve become quite inventive and discovered that there are still a lot of possibilities with a smaller budget.

Could you tell me why the budget got smaller?

© Floor Boele van Hensbroek
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

K: (seems a bit reluctant to talk about it) Let’s say for reasons beyond our control. We don’t have any external funding that we usually get.

Students now have to invest more in the IP themselves (like costs for transport and meals). Could you tell me why students should still be excited about the IP despite the financial burden for them? What do you expect students to gain from IP Krakow this year?

J: It’s going to be an unforgettable experience!

K: Well, I would like to rephrase that. The IP has always been the most central event of the MA Euroculture programme. If you miss out on the IP, it’s as if you’re taking the heart out of Euroculture. It’s a way to really experience the mobility aspect of the programme. Also, one should take into account that a few years ago, students relatively paid much more for their IP.

L: The costs should be taken in context. For a ‘real’ conference one would have to pay much more. Also, people have to pay for their meals wherever they are. Besides, Krakow is a cheap city compared to other places in Europe and we have made arrangements with several places wherefore it will be even more affordable.

Could you tell us something about the place we are going to stay?

J: It’s a comfortable place within walking distance from the city centre. During the previous IP in Krakow the residence was up the hill, outside the centre. However, taking into account the themes of this IP, we decided that staying in the centre was more suitable.

What about the lecture rooms?

K: Most lectures will be held in ‘Auditorium Maximum’, close to the city centre. However, there will also be a sneaky special… Namely, in a certain castle up the hill!

(The students who have studied in Krakow will be familiar with this castle)

© Floor Boele van Hensbroek
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

Could you tell us something about the speakers?

(Luc points at the speakers in the café hanging from the ceiling: “those speakers?!”)

haha..

K: Follow the website! A lot of information is already there, also about which speakers will come. We will make one last vignette that contains all the important information.

L: One thing about the speakers though: we’ve made an effort to engage as much as possible with young researchers and also practitioners. So we didn’t only focus on scientists. Also, there will be Euroculture alumni coming to speak, who will also be there during the career day. Don’t be shy to grab them by the elbow and ask them questions! They are resources. Oh, and one more thing: don’t be afraid to challenge the speakers and be critical of what they have to say!

What can we expect from an urban challenge?

L: It’s creative urban planning, done by students. Together students will improvise and generate ideas to creatively solve urban challenges.

What will the gala dinner be like? Do we have to dress fancy?

(Luc imitates a scavenger and jokes about a Flintstones theme)

L: The gala is always a very special occasion; and it has a special place within this IP. It’s an opportunity to meet, talk and share. It won’t be like the Cannes Film Festival, but people are going to dress nice.

If someone wants to travel after the IP to other places in Poland, where would you recommend?

K: Wroclaw!

J: Warsaw!

L: The Tatra Mountains!

L: If you have 3 days, I’d say, go to the mountains (Zakopane). One week? Go to Warsaw. Two weeks? Go to Mazury in the North-East of Poland.

K: If you want to undertake some sociological research while on holiday, you should go to the Eastern borderlands of Poland. These places are something entirely different and definitely interesting. Also very interesting is Białowieża forest. It is one of the last remaining primaeval forests of Europe.

One last question… What’s up with the penguins?!

L: They are symbols of change and adaptation, they are… unexpected!

ip2013krakow.wordpress.com/
ip2013krakow.wordpress.com/

Last special message from Luc for all the upcoming IP participants: The IP is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience a conference, while still being a student. You might find it stressful to present your paper and to participate in the discussions, but remember that everybody has something to say, whatever they work on. Just go and don’t forget that you will have something interesting to say and that people are going to listen, that they are interested. You are a community.

question penguine

Floor profileFloor Boele van Hensbroek, Junior Editor

I am Floor, Dutch, and 25 years young/old. I studied interdisciplinary social sciences at Utrecht University before starting with Euroculture. I love travelling, dancing, art, theatre, documentaries, tasty food, classy wine and.. actually a lot of other things. I was born in the bush of Zambia with a bush of black curly hair, although now I’m blond as blond can be. I’m a cynical optimist, that looks for truth even though I believe that all truth is constructed.

Finding an Alumnus (2) – The Journey Continues

“The calling of the humanities is to make us truly human in the best sense of the word” – J. Irwin Miller

Eunjin Jeong │eunjin.lynn@gmail.com

I wasn’t surprised when I found myself in Copenhagen in early October to participate in the Human[i]ties Perspective12 conference at Roskilde University, Denmark. Having learned that the HP12 team, currently led by Alex, had been working very hard for the conference despite their full-time jobs, I wanted to witness the fruition of their year-long effort.

Roskilde is a city which can be reached by a half-hour train ride from Copenhagen. When I got out of the train station, cute little signs that the HP12 team had placed here and there led me safely to the conference hall of Roskilde University. I found the hall to be very big and modern, and equipped with high-tech facilities. From the programme booklet handed out by HP12 team at the registration, I learned that the two-day programme had four themes: Communication and Media, Women’s Empowerment, Cultural Diplomacy and Cultural Policy, and finally, Education. Career orientations, which added a practical dimension to all of the themes, were yet another important part of the programme.

“Welcome to our conference”

The conference began at 10am with Alex’s opening plenary which was followed by welcoming messages from the organisers from Roskilde University. I could tell from the speakers’ tones that there was excitement in the air. With butterflies in my stomach, I looked around and saw the anticipating faces of the other participants. This is going to be great.

Each lecture lasted for fifteen to thirty minutes which perfectly fit my attention span. I liked that they had senior speakers, who were more experienced professors and researchers, while the junior speakers, most of whom were promising PhD students, made the whole programme even more vibrant. Each ninety-minute session was followed by a well-organised coffee break where I met interesting people from all over the world. The senior speakers, who were mostly prestigious professors from well-known universities, were very down to earth and open-minded so I could talk to them about everything from Gangnam style to my research interests. Also, I found three more Euroculturers in the conference: Kim, one of the HP12 organisers with whom I enjoyed talking to at later sessions; Natalia, who also spoke at the Career Day of the Euroculture Intensive Programme in Bilbao earlier this year; and Xiaohan, a junior speaker who studied MA Euroculture back when it was a one-year programme. What was happening on the spot, I could feel, was the expansion of networks in the fields of humanities and social sciences, while MA Euroculture was surely doing its share. Most of the participants have had various international experiences which obviously showed during the Q&A sessions. Cool. My favourite lecture was that of a Danish researcher who had written a very interesting paper on the masculinity of the Somali Diaspora in Denmark; a leadership workshop during the last session which lasted for more than two hours was another inspiring experience. A networking dinner at a Mexican restaurant pleasantly ended the first day of the conference. It was a very enjoyable night filled with delicious food, nice people with similar interests, and anticipations of the remaining programme awaiting us.

The HP12 team (another Euroculturer, Kim, on Alex’s right)

The second day went smoothly as well with interesting topics, cultural diplomacy being one which reminded me that a cultural product does not have to be ‘noble’ to make people interested in a different culture. The professor gave Gangnam style as an example. The theme of Education, which sent me back to my undergraduate years especially when the term ‘multiple intelligence’came up, was also very fresh and interesting, while my favourite lecture was that of the founder of Unexus.org who knew a lot of cool quotes. During the closing ceremony, I learned from Alex that the future goal of the HP team is to develop the Humanities Professional Network through the Erasmus Mundus Association (EMA) which will gather like-minded EMA graduates in one place. When I heard the phrase ‘TEDx in EMA network’, I thought it was a brilliant idea, rather ambitious but not too much if the long-term effects of the project could be seen by many.

Lake in the campus on the way to the conference hall

After the grand finale of the two-day conference, I went to say goodbye to Alex who was still overwhelmed with all the well-deserved congratulations from many people. I thanked him for the wonderful conference which had brought me the feeling of hope and empowerment as a humanities student, not to mention much knowledge, insights, and the network I developed during the two days. The biggest joy, however, came from witnessing a Euroculturer at the core of this wonderful project. Leaving Roskilde University and walking alone again towards the train station, I felt very warm inside despite the typically cold air of Danish autumn. It was a special Saturday evening in early October and my mission to uncover the life of a Euroculture alumnus, Alex Bunten, before, during, and after Euroculture, had started in Moscow and been completed in Roskilde.

Finding an Alumnus (1) – A Journey to Moscow

Eunjin Jeong, Editor-in-chief

Eunjin is from South Korea and studied Education for her BA. She began MA Euroculture in October 2011 in the University of Göttingen, later studied in the University of Strasbourg, and is currently doing a research track in Uppsala University. Her research interests lie in finding ways for diaspora groups to feel as ‘citizens at heart’ in host countries. Eunjin is a part-time realist and a full-time idealist.