The coronavirus has turned the work and private lives of many people upside down. The challenge now is to find solutions and develop adaptation strategies to deal with the pandemic in everyday life. Especially travel and stays abroad are currently highly problematic. In an interview, Maria Homeyer explains the challenges facing the Welcome Centre of the International Office of Münster University and how the welcome culture is being maintained.
What are currently the greatest challenges for the Welcome Centre and for the international researchers coming to the university?
Since July 18, international researchers can in principle travel to the university again - however, the guests have to take many aspects into account before they arrive: They need to know about the definition of risk areas, the quarantine rules in force and any changes to air travel. Furthermore, some hotels in Münster do not accept guests from certain countries. Finally, the trip itself is also characterized by many rules and controls.
What does the Welcome Centre offer to support and welcome international guests at the university and in Münster even in corona times?
The Welcome Centre supports the inviting departments as well as the researchers already in their home country. Even before the researchers start their trip, we advise them and offer them the opportunity to stay in the university guest houses during the quarantine period, for example. Before arrival as well as during the time on site, we provide advice by phone, e-mail and in zoom events. We provide films and tutorials via our social media channels as well as information on our blog "WiRe@WWU".
Is there a missing personal exchange besides the digital services?
It is of course a pity for guests and hosts that personal contact is severely limited - the digital services can only partially replace the direct services on site. The Welcome Centre team has therefore come up with something special to welcome the researchers anyway. Since I am a passionate roller skater myself, we have set up a skating course which, in addition to personal exchange - while observing the rules of hygiene and distance - also strengthens health and mental fitness.
What is offered in the course and who can participate?
We offer the course in cooperation with the Hochschulsport Münster. An important goal is to strengthen the welcoming culture at Münster University and to bring international and German researchers into contact with each other. Of course we also give a professional introduction to skating - for example how to fall and brake correctly. The course participants can choose whether they prefer to use inline or roller skates. We hope that this offer will provide a good mixture between sportive and atmospheric networking activities. I am quite sure: joint sports bring people together, internationalization thrives on movement, mobility and people who are turned towards each other.
For further information on corona in context with the arrival of international researchers, please contact Maria Homeyer personally ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).