Brett Strand
IWU student Brett Strand is flanked by Paul Coleman, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce (left) and Jim Cain, American ambassador to Denmark.

IWU Student Speaks at Annual Copenhagen Thanksgiving Event

December 6, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Brett Strand of Rockford, Ill., a junior political science and international relations major at Illinois Wesleyan University who has spent the fall semester studying in Copenhagen with Denmark's International Study program (DIS), was the featured speaker at the fourth annual Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Denmark on November 26.

Each year the Chamber of Commerce invites one DIS student to speak at the event on the experience of studying abroad.  Nominated by DIS staff for the honor, Strand addressed more than 400 dinner guests with a speech entitled "Lindbergh with a Safety Net: the Adventure of Studying Abroad."  Comparing a semester abroad to adventures such as Magellan's forays into uncharted waters and Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight, Strand concluded that, although a semester abroad is certainly safer than many historical expeditions, the adventure of self-discovery it provides is just as significant.

Under the advice of the IWU International Office, Strand applied to DIS because it offers a program specifically devoted to the study of the European Union.  "DIS is a well-established, state-supported institution with a great reputation," he said.  Affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, the program provides opportunities for international students to study biology, art history, political science, design, history, philosophy, religious studies or child development in the heart of Denmark.

IWU students have a history of success with DIS: after a semester in Copenhagen, Lisa Hoelle, class of '05, earned an internship with the institution and is currently developing new programming in its humanities and social sciences division.  Continuing the tradition of excellence established by Hoelle, Strand had the opportunity to interact with important figures in international relations between the United States and Denmark.

At the dinner, Strand was seated with the American ambassador to Denmark, Jim Cain, the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce, Paul Coleman, and their families at the head table, where they enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings.  Strand left the dinner with the personal contact card for the ambassador in his pocket and a gift from the Chamber of Commerce in his arms.  According to Strand, the event was unforgettable, making his holiday away from home a "happy Thanksgiving indeed."

Contact: Rebecca Welzenbach, (309) 556-3181