The Austrian Student Program 1982 - 2014
Between 1982 and 2014, some 40 students from the University of Innsbruck (LFU) and other Austrian universities have come to The University of New Orleans for the month of February to learn about American government, history, and society through specially designed classes. The program traditionally kicked off with a four-day visit to Washington, D.C., followed by instruction in New Orleans.
There, classes were held every morning, while afternoons were dedicated to extracurricular activities and programs.
Students were housed both with guest families and in facilities on campus.
The Austrian Student Program was initiated by Professor Erich Thoeni at LFU and was co-organized by Center Austria with Ellen Palli, who managed the program on the Innsbruck side since 1989.
Thanks to Joseph Logsdon, Nick Mueller, Carl Wagner, Erich Thoeni, Walter Freytag, and Rektor Andreae from the University of Innsbruck, the Austrian Student Program at UNO held its inaugural session in 1982; it was an immediate success.
Although the format of the ASP changed somewhat over the years, its original goals remained intact, thanks to the commitment of Center Austria (coordination partner for Innsbruck), Charles Hadley (academic director, UNO), Franz Mathis (academic director, University of Innsbruck), and Ellen Palli (continuous director of the program, University of Innsbruck).
The program took off with a four-day visit in Washington, D.C. that provided students - between 35 and 45 each year - with unique opportunities to enjoy the city's diversity and cultural offerings, such as free visits to several museums. They also had the chance to get to know one of the biggest and most important cities of the U.S. as well as getting a taste of the "American way of life“.
Once the group arrived in New Orleans, the students mostly lived with American families and took courses in American Economic Problems, American Political Institutions, American Social Problems, and Recent U.S. History from some of the most respected faculty at the University of New Orleans. In addition, the program included field trips to different plantations, a canoe tour in the Barataria swamps, music events (Jazz, Cajun Fais Do Do), as well as a tour of a local T.V. station, just to mention a few of the activities.
Besides giving students a unique chance to experience American life and culture, the Austrian Student Program also helped Americans understand Europeans and their culture. Strong bonds and lasting friendships between Austrians and Americans have developed over the years. The educational experience, moreover, has had a prfound influence for many students on their later academic decisions and their eventual careers.
Approximately 200 friends of the two sister universities, UNO and the University of Innsbruck, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Austrian Student Program in New Orleans in the University Center ballroom on February 18, 2003.
For this special event, an alumni week with special guests, including high-ranking officials from the university and the City of Innsbruck, as well as ASP alumni from all over Austria was organized. They were offered a specially tailoed program including a gospel mass, a jazz brunch, Fais Do Do at Tipitina's, a trip to plantations, a canoe tour in the swamps, and of course a lot of jazz.