International Summer School students: Welcome to the University of Oslo
On Monday 27 June we open the 70th session of the International Summer School at the University of Oslo. The welcome ceremony in the University Aula will be followed by a reception in Oslo City Hall. We are proud that 582 students from 98 different countries have chosen to spend six weeks at our university this summer.
Dear international students. We take great pleasure in welcoming you to our campus. I know by experience that your presence here energizes and invigorates the campus as well as the city. And I know by experience that many of you will be forging networks and friendships that are robust and profound enough to last a lifetime.
You all know that the core of the Summer School is its academic programs. But the Summer School is also about broadening your horizons - to find joy in taking part in others' knowledge, in other's perspectives, in other cultures and ways of life. And somehow it is about taking responsibility. The biggest challenges today are those that apply to all of us, and these cannot be properly understood unless they are debated and discussed with the richness of perspectives that only an international campus can provide.
In my welcome speech on Monday I will emphasize how important it is to create arenas for exchange of ideas and for fostering understanding and trust across geographical and cultural divides. The International Summer School is precisely such an arena. Some of the Summer School’s courses focus on Norwegian issues – language, culture, history, and contemporary society – but the perspective is international.
The Summer School has been close to my heart ever since I took over as Rector of the University. In fact, I was not fully aware of the high international standing of our Summer School until I met with former Vice President Walter Mondale just after I took office in 2009. The Vice President spoke highly of the Summer School, and indicated that it would be a perfect host for a course on human rights. Inspired by the Vice President’s visit, a graduate course on human rights was launched in 2010.
When challenges that affect all of us are discussed, the views from as many as possible of us should be brought to the fore. Debates are vitalized, energized and enlightened by recruiting many voices and gathering multifaceted views and perspectives. The International Summer School boasts superb leaders and teachers. But your own contribution to the learning environment remains essential. Expose your views. Let your voice be heard in the debates. Leave an imprint on our campus. And enjoy your stay in Oslo.