August 25, 2020
There is something magical about it, when the stilt walkers pass through the audience, especially in the evening. With their colorful, glowing costumes and their fancy make-up, they seem to float above the audience. "This is an amazing perspective for me, too," said Karin Huschenbedt, who as Community Coordinator at Jacobs University significantly enriches the life on campus. "When I get down from the stilts, I sometimes think: I actually liked it quite a bit up there!"
From an airy two and a half meters she looks down on the spectators as she pursues her hobby. Her legs are attached to the stilts with shoes and belts. "The walking is not the difficult part," said the 38-year-old, "but the fact that you have to do many things at once." This includes interacting with the audience and the other stilt walkers or keeping an eye on the direction and the ground conditions – and all of this with a limited field of vision due to the costume.
Multitasking, being creative, approaching people in an open and friendly way – that is also what Karin Huschenbedt does at Jacobs University in Bremen. There are more than 50 clubs at the university and the students enthusiastically organize a variety of events. As one of three Community Coordinators, she helps realize their plans – as long as COVID-19 contact restrictions and hygiene measures allow it. The spectrum ranges from the evening Poetry Slam to the Jacobs Startup Competition, a three-day contest with many guests. There are also concerts, talent shows, exhibitions and sports events.
She has acquired the necessary skills for this task during her many years of experience as a tour guide. She has worked in Spain, on the Canary Islands or in the Caribbean and she has also traveled in her free time, preferably to South America. "The nice thing about Jacobs University is that we have many students from these countries and I can talk to them in Spanish."
Her contact to the students is close, some events have a preparation time of one year. She often sees them and holds meetings with them, because a lot of questions have to be clarified. Which rooms can be used? Is any equipment needed? Does the technical team know about the event? Does catering have to be ordered? And are deadlines met? "We support the students and are the interface to many other departments at the university," said Karin Huschenbedt. "The job requires a lot of organization and flexibility because many things happen at the same time."
And it also requires a lot of time. At least when you don't just want to help with the preparations of the events, which usually take place in the evenings or on weekends. But if you also want to experience on the day of the event what the students have created. "That's one of the best moments, when you can see the result of your work."
One of her favorite events is "Spotlight", the annual talent show where students sing or dance, for example. "It is always impressive to see how many different talents we have on campus," said Karin Huschenbedt. "And I think it's great that new students always continue the events, so that they have already become a tradition." She herself loves to dance: flamenco, salsa or other Latin American dances. "I took this passion with me from my stays abroad. Dancing was always present in the countries as an expression of the joy of life."
Dancing, walking on stilts through a large audience and organizing events with students: The restrictions imposed by the corona pandemic in recent months have undoubtedly had a strong impact on the private and professional life of the East German native. Instead of supporting events and club activities and meeting students in her office, she worked a lot from home and helped to implement corona measures, for example. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel: Jacobs University will start its academic year as planned on September 1, 2020. Karin Huschenbedt is currently involved in the preparation of the "Freshie Journey", the orientation events for the new students, which will take place both online and on-site. For this, it is also necessary to develop a plan on how activities and events on campus can be implemented under the current hygiene and distancing rules. "The health of all students and staff is our top priority," explains the Community Coordinator. And she is looking positively into the future: "I am happy when everyone is back on campus and when we organize the students' leisure activities together".
This text is part of the series "Faces of Jacobs", in which Jacobs University introduces students, alumni, professors and staff. Further episodes can be found at www.jacobs-university.de/faces.