Keeping up to date with Irish College Leuven

A Year in Review 

As 2020 comes to an end, we would like to thank you for reading our newsletters each month.

The past twelve months has been unprecedented.  We have, however, adapted and continued to work online and remotely providing our clients with access to education, information and staying in touch with our newsletters and social media postings.

In this month’s newsletter, we look back on the programmes, events and news that happened during the year and while quieter than other years, we continued to deliver our mission.

Our preparations are in place for when we can return to full activities next year and we look forward to welcoming you back to Leuven.

Until then we wish you a peaceful and safe Christmas, and a successful year ahead.

Education and Training Programmes

We had a busy start to the year with our education programmes. Many institutions of higher education travelled from Ireland to Leuven. We also welcomed universities from London and Liverpool.

Our team arranged programmes for student groups in the areas of business, medical science, agriculture, security, European funding and linguistics.

Groups visited the European Institutions to meet with officials and politicians from different policy areas and discuss current issues in their subject areas. The European Parliament and DG Translation provided students with a practical experience in the area of the translation work of the Commission.

Parliament delivered presentations about future EU trade deals, and students got to attend the European Parliament Committee of the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety.

Students had insights from leading businesses and top brand names about their operations and international engagement. We organised visits to the sports company NIKE, automotive firm Audi, transport and logistics operators DHL, IT global brand Microsoft, world leaders in nanotechnology IMEC, worlds largest brewers ABInBev and the Port of Antwerp -Europe’s second-largest port.
We were pleased to welcome to Irish College Leuven keynote speakers and leaders for our moderated panel discussions and lectures. Thank you to representatives from Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union, ICOS, IFA Brussels, KU Leuven, British Chamber of Commerce, Siemens Engineering and MCR Consulting.

As COVID-19 restrictions limited travel, our activities moved online where we have been able to provide lectures and presentations virtually through our network. We conducted our first two public webinars, the first about the Irish O’Donnell family connections with Leuven, which can be viewed by clicking on the image, and the second to mark Leuven as the European Capital of Innovation 2020.
Irish Studies in Europe

Early in 2020, the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies (LCIS) hosted two Irish writers, Lucy Caldwell and Danielle McLaughlin, who gave readings and met with students. LCIS collaborated with the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS) initiative of turning the scheduled Irish Itinerary programme into a podcast version with Hedwig Schwall interviewing Rita Duffy as part of a successful series. 
In terms of research, LCIS organised an international Seminar on Literary Translation on March 4th with colleagues from Dublin, Braga, Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels. 

Raphaël Ingelbien published on Translating in the Irish Diaspora, contributed to Matt Campbell’s Irish Literature in Transition, 1830-1880 at Cambridge University Press and edited Figures of Authority in Nineteenth-Century Ireland with Liverpool University Press, together with Susan Galavan. Hedwig Schwall co-edited a volume of critical work on John Banville for the Brazilian Association of Irish Studies, published interviews and contributed to a volume on negotiating boundaries. Elke D’hoker and Phyllis Boumans published articles in the context of the research project “The Bell magazine and the Irish short story.”
Physical seminars had to be delayed and realised online, like the series of seminars Annabel Sels organised with Ronald Davies, Head of the Economics Department of University College Dublin. Ron gave a seminar about Innovation and the Technological Content of Imports​ for the Leuven-Louvain-la-Neuve Trade workshop and on Patent Boxes and the Success Rate of Applications for the Research Unit MSI (Management, Strategy and Innovation) at the Faculty of Economics and Business in Leuven. Subsequent topics were The Brexit Vote, Inflation and UK Living Standardsby  Elsa Leromain of Université Catholique de Louvain. This seminar was in collaboration with EOS. The EOS programme promotes joint research between researchers in the Flemish and French-speaking community by funding joint fundamental research.​

Cultural Activities

Trinity Orchestra Dublin and Dublin Youth Orchestras started this year’s culture programme at Irish College Leuven.  Both orchestras played to enthusiastic audiences in our Grand Auditorium and took the opportunity to perform at other venues and enjoy the local culture.
Thanks to the Irish Film Festival Belgium, Irish College Leuven was one of the venues for this year’s festival. The screening of the Irish movie Gaza was a great success, and we look forward to hosting again.
Our St Patrick’s Day Concert had to be curtailed as COVID-19 restrictions were introduced. We were grateful to the People’s College Choir from Dublin who travelled to Leuven for the occasion and sang so well at the College.
On Open Monument Day in Leuven, Irish College Leuven was proud to welcome guests to our landscaped gardens and learn the history of the Irish in Leuven.  The gardens were also in use for the City of Leuven’s Summer Film Festival as we hosted four movie nights in August.
As part of our support for Tradfest Belgica we hosted the Leuven based Peg Pellens and Les Fous de Bassan for a performance of Irish music at a socially distant concert in October.  You can watch some of the performance by clicking the image below.

Conferences and Events

We were very proud to have secured the award from Flanders Tourism as an official Flemish MICE Heritage Venue. The MCIE (Meetings, Conventions, Incentives, and Events) industry is a key part of the tourist board’s activities and promotions. Irish College Leuven is now part of the network to bring international events to Flanders. 
In February we hosted the European Youth Parliament which brought together young people to discuss the current issues and facing leaders today. 
Our hospitality and accommodation teams were kept busy with a large range of conferences supporting the work of KU Leuven, Leuven based scientific research centres, and business organisations holding team events.
Hospitality Scholarship Programme

Many thanks to the students who undertook placements on our Hospitality Scholarship Programme. Students from the island of Ireland.

Supported by our team at Irish College Leuven we offer young people the opportunity to develop their hospitality skills in an international setting.

The programme provides a blend of practical learning, training, and onsite experiences.

Students from the University of Limerick, Cavan Institute, Drogheda Institute for Further Education, Belfast Metropolitan College, and the North West Regional College all enjoyed their time in Leuven and were awarded certificates for their placement that will support their career development.

We are grateful to the institutions of higher education, and the EU funding programmes, Erasmus+ and EURES for their support.

Leuven Achievements

2020 was a successful year for the City of Leuven. In September, the City of Leuven was awarded the title of European Capital of Innovation for 2020. Innovation has been at the heart of Leuven for a long time. KU Leuven has been ranked number one in Europe for innovation for the past five years and is ranked number seven in the world and the city has established a unique leadership that facilitates collaborations between citizens, knowledge institutions, businesses and local organisations.

Shortly after this award, Leuven was awarded the title European City of Sport for 2021 by Aces Europe, the European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation. This award recognised the city’s contribution to health and positive exercise with a vast number of sporting facilities and events that take place throughout the year.

We are looking forward to next year as the city organises events and activities in recognition of these awards.

Prepared to Reopen

Irish College Leuven is prepared to reopen and welcome guests once more.

All our staff have undertaken training for the hospitality industry in COVID-19 preparedness and been certified as COVID-19 Lead Worker Representatives.

Throughout the building, we have placed new signage to remind guests of the need to continue to maintain social distancing, wash their hands, and wear masks, for everybody’s safety.

At key touch points, we have installed new hand sanitising dispenser units for guests to use.

We have introduced new practices at our reception, in our food and beverage arrangements and in our accommodation wings to ensure that those visiting are comfortable and safe.

With our spacious conference rooms and large garden, Irish College Leuven is the ideal meeting venue.

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Irish College Leuven is a brand name of The Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe ivzw, All rights reserved.
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