Irish Ambassador to Germany visits TH Köln
On May 12, 2017, the Language Learning Center started a new series of events intended to provide opportunities for students and employees of TH Köln to meet and exchange views with international experts. The first guest speaker was the Irish ambassador to Germany.
As a kick-off to their new series of International Talks, the Language Learning Center presented His Excellency Michael Collins, Irish ambassador to Germany, as their first speaker. Ambassador Collins was welcomed by Dr. Ursula Hassel, director of the Language Learning Center (Sprachlernzentrum), who hosted and moderated the event. The ambassador engaged students from various faculties as well as members of TH Köln in a lively exchange on the role of Ireland within Europe in light of Brexit.
Ambassador Collins spoke to an audience of 70 participants about various difficult topics concerning Ireland in the aftermath of Brexit, namely the effect the “divorce negotiations” will have on the country’s economy and the new significance of its border to Northern Ireland. Prompted by questions from the audience, Mr. Collins discussed the sovereignty of the nation-state within a union of states and declared that:
Ireland is part of the European Union and will remain in the European Union.
The participating students took the Q&A session following Mr. Collins’ talk as an opportunity to ask questions on controversial topics such as the refugee crisis and corporate tax rates and were met with candid and exhaustive answers. The Ambassador also fielded questions regarding the perceived increase in right-wing political parties in many European countries as well as the protection of human rights in the member states of the EU.
Ms. Suzanne Weiler and Ms. Linh Thlang, English teachers at the Language Learning Center, made the event an integral part of their courses B2 English: Negotiating Across Cultures, C2 English: Ethical Issues in the Professional World, and C1 English. Their students were offered the opportunity to participate in an accompanying multimedia project including a briefing on Brexit and an interview and article reflecting on the talk.
The first International Talk integrated language learning in a dialogue on important current events with a prominent guest speaker. Ambassador Collins himself engaged in several conversations with students following the event, prompting even more discussion on one of the most important political topics of our time.
The Language Learning Center takes the great success of this first event as an incentive to offer further International Talks with other prominent speakers from business, politics and society, thus embedding language learning in topical issues and providing students with the opportunity to engage with experienced professionals in an intercultural exchange.