21 June 2022
Let's Unite! - Get to know Benedetta Gennaro
Benedetta Gennaro, is the Head of International Student Services at TU Darmstadt. Within Unite! she is part of Task Force (TF) 3, as she co-coordinates the SubTask Force "Student Engagement and Welcome Centre".

Picture of Benedetta Gennaro

Benedetta Gennaro, is the Head of International Student Services at TU Darmstadt. Within Unite! she is part of Task Force (TF) 3, as she co-coordinates the SubTask Force "Student Engagement and Welcome Centre". This SubTask force focuses on inclusion, mentoring, and co-creation. She is also coordinating TF3 for TU Darmstadt, reporting on the work that has been done across its many subunits. On a personal level, she is currently obsessed with cooking Ottolenghi's recipes and particularly enjoys doing so with friends sipping a good glass of wine. She loves hiking in the Dolomites and although she is Italian, she hates warm temperatures and coffee.

21/06/2022

What future Unite! project are you particularly excited about and why do you think it is important
for Unite!'s strategy?

I am excited about the possibility of implementing what we have been working on in TF3, which is the creation of the Virtual Diversity and Inclusion Office: to understand the values of diversity and inclusion and equity not just theoretically but also experiencing them operationally. That is why I am very happy about the creation of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committe, which will be advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity at the alliance level and will advise the Secretariat and Unite!'s Governing Bodies. Vision is a beautiful thing and we have visionary leaders, nevertheless, we need to make sure that visions become reality. That is what we are trying to do within TF3.
I am very excited, that TU Graz and Wroclaw Tech joined the alliance and I am interested to learn how diversity, inclusion and equity are understood in their universities. Lastly, I am excited about IDEM. This project will offer important tools to make sure that many more underrepresented students can participate to mobility programs. We will offer training, organize Bootcamps and will test models, making sure that the entire alliance benefits from what we are piloting.

What is happening in your TF? Anything interesting to share with the Unite! community?

We are wrapping up our work with Unite!, making sure that the Charter for diversity and inclusion and the Accessibility Statement are disseminated widely. We are also working on a Common Action Protocol, which will include a series of recommendations to help facilitate mobility for underrepresented students. We also going to meet in Stockholm to reflect on the work done and look at the future: how are we going to use our experiences and lessons learned in mentoring and co-creation now that we are staring a new phase of Unite! with two new partners?  




From your point of view, what is the advantage of working or studying at a Unite! university? What
do you think is special about the Unite! alliance?

Unite! has so much potential. The possibility of moving from one campus to the other – physically and digitally – being and becoming part of such a diverse community represents a great opportunity for both staff and students.  Students can travel around the world just by tapping on their phone’s home screen. Despite the easiness of doing that, it is important to strike a balance between virtual exchange and real life experiences. This is also why IDEM is so important, because we can encourage more people who don´t think they can even embark on a mobility program to apply for and participate in it. I think that Unite! gives us an amazing opportunity to grow in so many ways and on so many levels. 

The last three years have taught us a lot. We thought we knew how things worked and realized later that things were more complicated than expected: we learnt from processes, we adjusted to them and realized that we can accomplish so many things by being flexible, learn and listen to each other.

More information about the task force she is involved in: 

Unite!'s Task Force 3, deals with the alliance's Support Services and works as a facilitator to enhance mobility and an enabler to student involvement in a bottom-up approach. Within this Task Force there are several subtasks organised in four different sub-units:

  1. Joint Mobility Centre (JMC)
  2. Multilingual & Multicultural Training Centre (M&M)
  3. Career Liaison Centre (CLC)
  4. Student Engagement and Welcome Centre (SEC) - Although there is another sub-unit focused only on student mobility, this one focuses on the fundamental milestone in the student mobility experience. This is to reach a level of social and cultural integration, so that students interact with the university environment beyond their academic activities. One of the succesful initiatives that SEC has created to promote the proactive strategic vision of the students and of what they understand to be their needs, is the Unite!4Future Student Co-Creation initiative.