Welcome to Leipzig – Network meeting 2018

The project “Welcome to Leipzig” is a joint project of currently eight Leipzig scientific institutions and the Leipzig City Council with the aim to improve the culture of welcome for international guest scientists and highly qualified employees from all over the world. This has been achieved in five years. In November, the network partners came together in order to discuss new developments and exchange ideas about how to better welcome international guest researchers.

Now the project is to be given a new project sponsor. Reason for the planned handover of the University of Leipzig to the Leipzig Science Network e.V. (LSN e.V.) is the project financing. With the help of the LSN e.V., an attempt is made to consolidate the project

“Since the beginning of the project, we have moved much closer together in the city. It doesn’t just look like it did here at the network meeting in the Moritzbastei, it really is,” explains Dr. Annemone Fabricius. “Everywhere in the city there are people in the authorities and the scientific institutions who have unbelievable know-how regarding the arrival process. Through the project, we have succeeded in networking them. Now we everybody has direct contact persons, direct communication, the integration offer is richer and our knowledge has increased enormously,” continues the head of the Welcome Centre.

Network meeting 2017

On January 18, the network members gathered in the cultural centre „Moritzbastei“ to bring themselves up to date about the most recent developments within the project “Welcome to Leipzig”.

The event started with a review about the results of the project year 2016, e.g. the launch of the new web platform (which you are visiting right now), the organization of several events (cultural workshops, an international summer party etc.) and the translation of many documents into English for the project partners.

In the following, different stakeholders gave short presentations on the situation of refugees in Leipzig, the plans for a new welcome centre lead by the City of Leipzig, the current Resident Registration Act and on pensions for international researchers.

Later on, the guests had the possibility of getting to know each other better over a cup of coffee and some snacks and to inform themselves about different topics at information desks.

Overall, it was a fruitful afternoon and a good start of the new project year 2017.

New series of intercultural competence trainings in November

3rd annual transnational intercultural competence training for staff of public authorities, institutions and administrative facilities in Leipzig

On November 23, 2016 the project team invited employees of public administration for a workshop held by two professional intercultural trainers. The goal of the seminar was to help dealing with misunderstandings while working with people from different cultures and exchange experiences. The training also included the sensitization for typical German communication and behavioral pattern in comparison to other cultural patterns. The workshop was fully booked with employees from iDiv, Human Resources Department of the university, Foreigner’s Authority, Resident Services Office and Leipzig Help Desk.

One week later, on November 30, 2016 part two of the seminar took place: the country-specific Intercultural training „Nations, cultures and regions at a glance“. Focus was the training of a sensitive handling of intercultural clients and information about regions and culture-specific background.

The participants praised the efficient and helpful seminar. The project team looks forward to the 4th edition of the trainings in 2017.

Participants of the network meeting are seated on chairs, in a semi-open circle facing a presentation area.

Guided tour and barbecue at the Mendelssohn House Leipzig

Last year, we took the guest researchers to the “Pongoland” monkey house at Leipzig Zoo, an area where the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology conducts research into apes. This year, the project officially started on 15 June with a guided tour and a barbecue at the Mendelssohn House Leipzig. International scientists and guest researchers from the different research institutions as well as representatives from the City of Leipzig were invited to explore this interesting venue and to get to know each other.

mendelssohnhaus3The Mendelssohn House is the place where the famous composer, music director, cultural politician and piano virtuoso Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy lived and died and where today a very diverse exhibition pays tribute to his works. It is a gem on Leipzig’s cultural landscape. The exhibition provides an insight into Mendelssohn’s life and works, illustrated by letters, sheet music and watercolours.

After a small reception, the visitors gathered in the music salon on the first floor. Prof. Dr. Ulrich Brieler from the Department for Knowledge Policy of the City of Leipzig and Dr. Annemone Fabricius, coordinator of the “Welcome to Leipzig” project, welcomed the guests and explained the project. Ms Christiane Schmidt from the Mendelssohn House gave a talk on the house itself and the exhibition it houses as well as Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s life.

The visitors found the house very interesting indeed and were free to explore the exhibition on their own. Many of them
were fascinated by the multi-faceted exhibition concept and said they would like to come back and attend one of the morning concerts in the music salon.

To finishmendelssohnhaus2 off the evening, the visitors got together in the idyllic garden of the Mendelssohn House to enjoy a barbecue. They shared their experiences and views about life in Leipzig, and many of the guest researchers shared anecdotes about life in their home countries.

It was a fruitful and informal way of bringing together people from Leipzig as well as from all over the world, allowing them to get to know both each other and an important part of Leipzig’s music scene.

Report by Martha Fromme


Participants of the network meeting sit at different table circles on one evening and talk to each other

Network Meeting

Once a year, the members of the “Welcome to Leipzig” network get together at the cultural centre “Moritzbastei”, the biggest student club in Europe in the heart of Leipzig. It is an opportunity for the different network partners to meet and get to know one another. During the meetings, the different stakeholders discuss recent developments in the project and how things will continue in the future.

The first network meeting took place in 2014. It focused on the experiences of guest researchers in Germany – both positive and negative. First of all, the patrons of the event, Matthias Schwarz, Vice Rector for Research and Young Academics, and Andreas Müller, Mayor for General Administration, talked about their own arrival in Leipzig and other cities. Afterwards, researchers talked very openly about what had made their arrival in Leipzig easier and about what could still be improved. Cedric Krummes from Luxembourg criticized the fact that the doors of the authorities always seemed to be closed, and was disappointed that staff did not offer consultation in foreign languages. However, Danuta Rytel-Schwarz, a Polish professor at the Institute for Slavonic Studies, stressed that she was met with helpfulness when looking for a kindergarten place and that before long she felt at home in Leipzig. The network meeting helped the different stakeholders to get to know each other. Annemone Fabricius, coordinator of the “Welcome to Leipzig” project, was referring to the guests who were in attendance when she said, “We have succeeded in eliminating the anonymity between the university administration and the municipal authorities.”

The following network meeting was held in September 2015. Representatives from the Family Information Office, the Authority of Public Order, the Department of Migration and Integration, the tax authorities and the Saxon Education Agency gave short talks to report from their own areas. Afterwards, everybody had the opportunity to ask questions about developments in these fields. Employees of Leipzig University, the city administration and the research institutions in Leipzig as well as guest scientists were invited to enjoy a snack and drink and talk about the numerous topics and challenges in their areas and in daily life as a guest researcher.

The network meeting is part of every project year.

A group of international scientists is given a guided tour of Leipzig Zoo. In the foreground, a female scientist is standing away from the group and looking into the pen, although the pen itself is not visible.

Intercultural summer meeting and guided tour through Pongoland in the Leipzig Zoo

Once a year, the “Welcome to Leipzig” project organizes a summer event where guest researchers zoo-2015from different research institutions are invited to meet up and get to know interesting places in Leipzig.

In July 2015, we organized an intercultural summer meeting and a guided tour of Pongoland, the monkey house in Leipzig’s famous zoo. The tour was led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, which also conducts research on the primates there.


Over 50 guest researchers and representatives from the different research institutions discovered the world of chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos, and were fascinated to hear all sorts of interesting facts about their habitat, their perception, their social behaviour and their development. Divided into two different groups, they asked plenty of questions which the researchers were only too happy to answer.

zoo-2015-3After the fascinating tour, the guests got together over some snacks and had the chance to get to know
each other better beyond their own institutions.

It was a very enriching evening – not only because of the interesting tour, but also because of the many lively conversations and encounters with inspiring people from all over the world which ensued.

Report by Martha Fromme