Reflections 2023-05-09

Introducing our Program Assistants – Summer 2023

By Elizabeth Holstein

The master program has a longstanding tradition of providing work experience for talented young professionals in the intersection of art, human rights and education. Each semester, three to four young professionals titled Program Assistants help the program with a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities. The Program Assistants take this opportunity as an Erasmus+ Traineeship.

Although the tasks for the Program Assistants have changed over time, their main responsibilities remain curriculum assistance, technical coordination, content creation for social media and design, research, event managing, artistic projects and managing the recruitment process of Program Assistants. Throughout time, the Program Assistants have drawn up new initiatives, for instance the advancement of pivotal strategies to improve the master program’s presence on social media and the creation of the Angewandte’s first and only human rights library. In addition to the work tasks, the Program Assistants can follow all classes provided by the master.

There are numerous compelling reasons to consider applying for this position, as it presents a unique work opportunity to delve into the interdisciplinary nature of social sciences, legal studies and artistic approaches within an educational setting. With this interdisciplinary approach the program assistants can contribute to tasks outside their former experience. For example, if you have a background in law, you can work on social media design projects. Alternatively, you can leverage your previous experience to assist with the master program. For instance, if you have a teaching background, you can use your skills to help shape the curriculum for the upcoming semester. Throughout your work, you will receive valuable feedback from the permanent staff to further enhance your skills and expertise.

For the three of us, Ada Pippingsköld, Asiya Yulamanova and Elizabeth Holstein, we had a few days to settle in Vienna and unpack our luggage from Finland and Denmark before we began our new work here in February 2023. We were amazed by the beautiful Otto Wagner setting – the former Postsparkasse that the master program is located in – and very happy to meet our new colleagues who greeted us with a fantastic first week.

The three former program assistants had meticulously planned and executed an impressive introductory program for us. Their efforts were not lost on us – as one of the students remarked: “you have big shoes to fill!”

We presented ourselves to our new colleagues:

Ada Pippingsköld is freshly graduated with a master’s degree in Education from the University of Turku, Finland. She focused on special education, psychology and early childhood education. After completing her master´s and getting the qualification of class teacher and special education teacher, she felt the urge to combine her interest in education with the field of human rights. Ada gained experience in the educational field as a teacher and volunteered in various NGOs to empower the rights of the children, women and refugees. She is passionate about promoting children’s and women’s rights and their participation in our society. She has worked as a UN Child Rights Ambassador for Plan International in order to guide practical lessons for children and youth about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and themes related to global education. As a teacher Ada has seen how different backgrounds can influence and how human rights can be promoted through equality in education. She truly believes that education is the most powerful way to promote human rights and offer equal opportunities in life to everyone. Besides human rights Ada is enthusiastic about dancing, boxing, volunteering and hiking in the beautiful Austrian nature. Alongside she is improving her German in order to settle in Vienna for life.

After spending her Erasmus year in Vienna, Ada completely fell in love with the city and felt the urge to move back. While looking for possible opportunities to move back to Vienna, she found the traineeship at the VMAHR: “it was everything I could have ask for! The opportunity to combine all my interests in one: education with the intersection of human rights and arts… In my favourite city!” Ada believes that working at VMAHR is a great opportunity for her to enrich her skills in educational settings as well as broaden her understanding of working in the field of human rights and arts.

Asiya Yulamanova has a background in International Relations and International Law with the focus on the rights of ethnic and national minorities. Being an active volunteer and human rights enthusiast, Asiya volunteered for project for homeless people and human rights organization in Russia. These experiences brought her to Finland where she is studying Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research at Åbo Academi. Her interests include international relations, human rights law, humanitarian aid, peace studies and conflict resolution.

Alongside her academic pursuits, Asiya also has experience in web design, web development, and digital marketing. She sees design as a way of artistic and creative expression. Asiya’s experience in project management helped her develop her skills while working at Philips. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing the guitar and singing.

Asiya explains that she “was curious about the structure and content of human rights education in Europe, but most of them seems too academic and far from the reality I have experienced. When I first saw the description of Applied Human Rights program, I was very inspired because they seemed to be teaching their students what my colleagues were trying to invent on their own for many years: how to convey the extremely complicated concepts of human rights to a broader public and help artists, who already dedicate their work to human rights, to conceptualise their work and have a deeper understanding of the topic. Never wrote the motivation letter so easily.”

Back in high school, Elizabeth S-L Holstein was nominated Junior Researcher 2015 at University of Copenhagen with a project on how art can support integration processes with children. She then went on roller skates to interview 56 young artists aged 15-25 on why art matters for the individual and society. She published a book, participated in public debates and curated several exhibitions based on this. She was then headhunted to the Thinktank of Youth Culture by the Danish Government and invited to international youth conferences (Russia, US, Europe). She began studying law and gained her first human rights work experience in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She later joined several human rights volunteer groups and became Vice-Chairman of a non-profit book company. With a bachelor specialised in Law of the Sea, she now aims at a future where she can combine her passion for both art and law.

“I saw the job post by pure coincidence and immediately knew I wanted to apply. The Master Program seemed like the workplace I had dreamed of creating one day – and I was truly happy to see it already exists! So, I partly applied because the workplace aligns with my dreams and values, but also partly as a small protest… Because, in Denmark ALL law students apply for the same jobs: either law firms, the UN or the European Union. For many, they don’t even feel they learn from their work nor find it very meaningful. Instead, I want to pursue a personal career path that I truly find meaningful. Hopefully, I can inspire others to follow their heart instead of following the crowd as well – for which this position is the perfect example because of its individualised character.”

Besides this unique, professional work experience we receive as Program Assistants, the biggest gift is the friendship and collaboration between the three of us. In our spare time, we take the opportunities to explore Vienna together. No doubt that we will look back one day at our traineeship in the master program with joy and fondness.


Picture by Martin Ruiz Rueda, RUEDA STUDIO,

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