After saving his master’s program from being shut down, Tyler Barrott, 26, moved on to being the Internationalista representative in the Student Parliament at the University of Oslo. The American moved from Cincinatti, Ohio, to Oslo for a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict studies at UiO, with a focus in history. He now works to improve international student life at UiO.
Barrott is Internationalista’s only representative in the Student Parliament this year. The political organization was founded in 2014, and operates in the interest of international students, ensuring the University of Oslo continues to strive to be an internationally focused institution, empowering international students to participate in decision making processes.
Started in the student council
However, Barrott’s seat in the Student Parliament is not his first engagement in student politics. He has also served as the vice president in the student council of his master’s program.
«Our program, Peace and conflict Studies [PECOS], was supposed to be shut down, so our program council took up the challenge of figuring out a way we could keep the program, and as a part of that effort, we ended up interacting with the Student Parliament,» he said.
Impressed by the way Internationalista representative Marianna Khodabandeloum had spoken so strongly in favor of the international programs at UiO, Barrott got in touch with the organization.
«I just sent Internationalista a Facebook message, I said I’d like to get involved, I don’t know what I can do, but I’d be happy to help. Then I went to a meeting, and from there it kind of just got bigger and bigger and bigger», Barrott said.
And by «bigger» he means his current mandate as Internationalista representative in the highest elected body of student representatives at the University of Oslo, the Student Parliament. While the group of 35 student representatives meet once a month, many of the representatives are also engaged in additional committees.
«Right now we have an international committee within the student parliament where we are working on getting the main documents all translated to English, so that international students can read them, have access to them and don’t have to rely on Google Translate», Barrott explained.
Not only for Norwegians
However, the Student Parliament, Villa Eika (SP’s campus offices) and Internationalista all tend to be vague concepts to a majority of international students in Oslo, whether they are here on exchange or doing a full degree.
«I do think there is some perception around the greater population of international students, that student politics is something that is more for Norwegian students, but Internationalista has existed for a while and it’s not just us that are taking up international student issues», said Barrott.
According to the Internationalista representative, international students are a high priority on many student politicians’ agendas.
«I already know that the Student Parliament, in our debates and our discussions, international students are talked about a fair amount. People are discussing how we can make the classes better for the international students», he said.
Lessening the burden
In the process of improving internationalization at the University of Oslo, as well as making the students that are already here feel welcomed, Barrott has a handful of cases particularly close to his heart.
«My big thing is working with student loneliness, making sure international students have a way to participate or if they want to stay in Norway or in the Nordic region, getting jobs through the networks that exists in Norway and in the region – all of that is very important to me,» he said. «I don’t ever want an international student to come to UiO and feel like they’re not a part of something; that they’re not a part of the school. Because I know how difficult it can be», he added.
When asked about how he intends to accomplish that goal, Barrott is positive about the Student Parliament’s ability to get things done.
«In terms of strategy, nothing as exciting as «House of Cards» or anything. It’s nothing like that. I think we have a very good working environment and people are always curious and wanting to make the international students an important part of the discussion», Barrott said.
Personally, Barrott seems to be certain of his own goals in the process of empowering and ensuring the satisfaction of international students at UiO.
«[I want] to make sure international students have just a good a chance of success as any student who goes to UiO,» he said.