Music professor is link to Grand Valley's newest international partnership

Grand Valley's newest international partner comes courtesy of a faculty member who grew up in Czechia, the former Czech Republic.

Marlen Vavrikova, professor of oboe, and other Grand Valley leaders traveled in late May to the University of Ostrava in Ostrava, Czechia , to finalize an official exchange partnership. 

Initially, Grand Valley students majoring in music, dance and theatre can begin studying in Ostrava in the fall 2025 semester. Kate Stoetzner, executive director of the Padnos International Center, said the exchange will soon open to other academic disciplines. 

three people standing in front of building at the University of Ostrava
From left are Kate Stoetzner, Robert Smart and Marlen Vavrikova at the University of Ostrava in Czechia. Vavrikova, a native of Czechia, helped facilitate a student exchange program.

Vavrikova, who joined Grand Valley's faculty in 2005, said she sees similarities between the two institutions. Last year, Vavrikova led a small group of Grand Valley students to Ostrava on a faculty-led study abroad program.

"Observing how students learned about who they are by fully immersing themselves in a new culture was one of the most rewarding moments of my career," she said. "Having the opportunity to spend one semester in Czechia at the University of Ostrava would offer our students new perspectives and broaden their knowledge of rich European music tradition, history and education. It would open their eyes to new ways of learning and connecting with people."

group of students and faculty in a music room
Marlen Vavrikova is pictured with GVSU students during a faculty-led study abroad program last year. Vavrikova is standing to the left of Ostrava music professor Karel Steinmetz.

Renáta Tomásková , Ostrava's vice-rector for International Relations, credited Vavrikova for sustaining and enhancing the relationship between the institutions.

"Signing an exchange agreement during their visit is a finishing touch on the long-term contacts between our universities and a sustained effort of Marlen Vavrikova to develop collaborative endeavors," Tomásková said. "We value the new partnership highly and hope to see it growing."

Students interested in pursuing this exchange program should contact the Padnos International Center. Grand Valley has about 25 active partnerships with international universities.


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