Lund University's new global ambassador
For the eighth successive year, the Swedish Institute has awarded the prestigious title of Global Swede to a number of international students at Sweden's higher education institutions. This year, for the first time, the representative for Lund University is from the Faculty of Social Sciences. Her name is Ivanna Read.
"I am really pleased! The process was quite long, and the selection process was in several stages, so I didn't really understand when Jörgen emailed to congratulate me. At first, I thought I had just got through to the next round. But then he wrote back 'No, no, you have got it, you are LU's Global Swede'".
Jörgen Eksell is director of studies at the Department of Strategic Communication. He nominated Ivanna for the award.
"Ivanna's academic work and the way she addresses the various subjects in the classroom show a sound academic and critical mindset. She also has a creative way of finding solutions to communication challenges for today's organisations", he wrote in the nomination letter.
An experienced ambassador
Ivanna comes from the Dominican Republic and has been in Sweden for two years. She has extensive experience of the ambassador role from her work as digital ambassador for the Swedish Institute's website studyinsweden.se, a site she herself visited when seeking information about how to study in Sweden.
"You have so many misconceptions about a country if you have never been there. Everyone said 'It will be very cold and dark with snow everywhere', so it was good to get a nuanced picture of it. I have blogged and managed other digital channels for studyinsweden.se since I came to Sweden. Having contact with people from all over the world has been very rewarding."
A unique programme
For as long as she can remember, Ivanna has longed to study abroad. She succeeded against tough competition to win one of the Swedish Institute's scholarships, which now funds her Master's studies in Sweden. Choosing Lund University and strategic communication was no coincidence.
"Many other international Master's programmes in communication focus just on marketing or PR. What I really like about my programme is the holistic approach to communication, the strategic mindset and how everything connects. The human factor is central to all communication, and it's what makes the subject so interesting."
With a degree from her homeland and experience from a study programme in Spain, switching to the teaching environment in a Swedish social sciences Master's programme, with its emphasis on independent work, was a major change.
"Instead of someone saying to you 'learn this so you know what's what', there is much more focus on discussions, group work and independent reflection. In my first module we were given a case and were then divided up into groups of five to discuss solutions based on our different backgrounds. You get involved in the teaching and gain self-confidence when other people listen to your thoughts."
According to Ivanna, contact with classmates from other countries and cultures is one of the best aspects of the course ¬- not least because of all the culture clashes. A classmate once asked her (a little cautiously) during a group discussion why she was talking as if she was angry.
"It was all my hand gestures, haha. It hadn't occurred to me before because I always have a positive attitude. But the person came from Sweden and was not used to that way of talking."
The Swedish model
One aim of the Global Swede award is to draw attention to foreign students and their importance as ambassadors for Sweden. Ivanna is currently writing a Master's thesis on the communication tools use by the Swedish brand and hopes in the future to be able to act as a bridge between Sweden and other parts of the world, not least in her homeland.
"Sweden is at the forefront on issues such as sustainability and how to address them. Also innovation and creativity plays a key role in the development of new ideas. I want to be part of this and contribute to improvements in my country by incorporating through my work as a communication strategist the successful aspects of the Swedish model, in which you challenge normative thinking and are not afraid to learn from your mistakes."
By: Mats Kristersson