Diversity and inclusion are essential

ESB Central Languages celebrate Diversity Month

Every year in May, the European Union’s ‘Diversity Month’ places a special focus on the topics of equality, diversity and inclusion. Reutlingen University also took part in the European initiative providing a wide-ranging programme. ESB Business School celebrated its diversity during the ESB International Week as well as with other activities. For example, students on the Spanish C1 course were treated to a special guest lecture. Lecturer Pilar Beil had invited the Columbian journalist and writer Catalina Gallo Rojas. She spoke candidly with the class about her mental illness, her literary work and the topic of mental health.

Catalina Gallo Rojas suffers from a bipolar affective disorder. She uses her writing to deal with her symptoms and experiences. Although she is not a psychiatrist, she can and wants to send a message of hope and comfort through her work. Through her publications, Rojas has made numerous contacts over the years and raised awareness of the issue in Columbia and beyond. 

In a lively exchange with the students – naturally in Spanish – the author also pointed out the persistent taboo surrounding mental illness as well as other difficulties such as creating spaces for recovery and professional reintegration following illness-related absences.

The exchange was an impressive experience for the ESB students: ‘Catalina’s openness and the positive dialogue with her was wonderful. She really opened up a lot of new perspectives’, says Vanessa dos Santos Keller. Philipp Ischer adds: ‘It’s important that people like Catalina Gallo address their issues openly and receive professional support as well as support in everyday life from all of us.’

The guest lecture by Catalina Gallo Rojas made it impressively clear that the topic of diversity and inclusion should not only play a role during Diversity Month. ‘It is important to broaden our own horizons and create an awareness of the diversity of people, but also the diversity of their challenges and the solutions to them’, agreed Pilar Beil’s Spanish class.

Catalina Gallo Rojas also expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to tell her story on the other side of the world. She emphasised that universities also have a responsibility to support students in crisis situations and to make everyday student life inclusive. Raising awareness of this is essential.