ISU Norway: Leadership Meeting 2019
This past February 22nd-24th, NMBU played host to Norway’s International Student Union’s (ISU) 2nd Leadership Meeting for 2018-2019. The three-day weekend gathering consisted of representatives from the ISU’s 27 local branches across the country, congregating here in Ås.
It was an occasion for the student leaders to all gather in one place and, in the words of the ISU’s national leadership team, “discuss, share and raise awareness of issues affecting international students studying in Norway, and to build a focused and coherent team spirit within ISU.”
For those who may be unfamiliar with the work of the organization, the ISU is dedicated towards representing the social, academic and political interests of international students who are living and studying in Norway. Described as “an independent, democratic, non-profit, non-partisan organization run for and by international students”, the ISU was formed in the late 1970s by student activists who sought to protect and promote the welfare of students who had come from elsewhere in order to study in Norway. ISU NMBU is one of the oldest local branches in the country, and was also among the founding members of the national organization. Here at NMBU, where a significant portion of the entire student population – nearly 20% – consists of international students, the ISU has maintained a notable and consistent presence over the years.
As mentioned earlier, in addition to its ongoing role as a voice for international students on campus, ISU NMBU has taken on the responsibility of hosting this weekend’s assembly, officially known as “Leadership Meeting 2”, or “LM2”. It was the second of two leadership meetings that are held every year, with “Leadership Meeting 1” or “LM1” taking place last autumn in Stavanger. It was at last summer’s annual National Assembly that NMBU was elected to host the LM2.
This weekend’s agenda consisted of various activities that took place here at the NMBU campus. On a national level, this included planning and budgeting for the upcoming year; while on a local level, each of the branches in attendance gave a presentation on their individual organizations, discussing the work that they have done and their goals for the future. The composition of each local branch’s board was a clear reflection of the diversity of students who come every year to Norway to study. International student representatives had come from countries as far away as Colombia, Algeria, and the Philippines, and were now here representing ISU branches in regions across Norway, including Bodø, Volda and Ålesund.
In addition to its hosting duties, ISU NMBU gave its own presentation showcasing events from last semester. Highlights included this past autumn’s International Food Festival (a fan-favourite occasion that also takes place annually at many other ISU local branches) and International Students’ Day last November, where the ISU hosted an evening bonfire for international and Norwegian students alike. The organization is now gearing up for the spring semester, and is kicking off the season beginning with the election of new board members.
Yonatan Bisrat Taye, Treasurer of ISU NMBU, provided a hint of what students can expect to see next from the organization at the university: “With the new board, the only limitation is our imagination for the different activities we can set up for further integration between international and local students, and raise the international visibility on campus with events such as the food festival.” When asked about any lessons that ISU NMBU has learned from the LM2, he went on to add, “There are so many different things and activities ISU NMBU can do here in Ås. As a small board we’ve had a lot on our platter, but with the inspiration from the other universities […], we are ready to have many more events... Movie nights, cruise trips and “coffee dates” were presented, and these are all possibilities for ISU NMBU if the students here would like to join.”
It seems that this weekend’s leadership meeting was a success, then, at both the local and the national level of the International Student Union. Upon the conclusion of the assembly, Jose De Pool, National President of the ISU, had these final words to say about the weekend in Ås: “I just want to say that I’m very thankful for the warm welcome to NMBU and to Ås. It’s been a great weekend. We do, at the Executive Board, work very hard to advocate for international students and it’s nice to see that we have such an international community in Ås that was so welcoming... You don’t get that a lot, so it’s very nice.”
By: Chiara Magboo