Marjon News

Marjon Lecturers meet the President of Iceland in their thermals

Released: 22.08.19


Lecturers in Outdoor Adventure Education from Plymouth Marjon University paid a visit to Iceland this year, to teach Place Based Outdoor Education, or Staðartengd útimenntun.

Dr Mark Leather, Associate Professor of Education and Programme Lead for Outdoor Adventure Education at Marjon, and Fiona Nicholls, Senior Lecturer in Outdoor Adventure Education, visit Iceland each year to teach on the programme in collaboration with University of Iceland’s very own Jakob Frímann Thorsteinson.

Mark and Fiona were accompanied by Verity Howell, an Outdoor Adventure Education student at the University.

“It’s been an amazing trip, and it was so surreal to meet the President of Iceland – only at Marjon!” said Verity.

On the course, the local community provides the context for learning; an experiential approach is used with the perspective of sailing, seashore and Iceland’s maritime heritage. Student work focuses on the community; the stories, culture and interests.

 During their visit to Iceland, Dr Mark Leather and Fiona Nicholls sailed with the students and Jakob to meet the President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, at his home in a place called Bessastaðir in Garðabær, near the capital city Reykjavík. Upon arrival, they were welcomed in for tea by the President himself.

Dr Mark Leather said:

“We were welcomed in, and because we had been in wetsuits and buoyancy aids, we all stripped off some layers. To quote me on the day, I’ve always wanted to meet a Head of State dressed in my (thermal) pants.

We drank ‘the finest hot chocolate from the finest presidential bone china’ and ate home-baked Klanur - small twisted cinnamon doughnuts.”

The President was so welcoming, he greeted everybody with a handshake and asked their name, he was really welcoming, interested and interesting!”

Dr Mark Leather values the importance of international experiences for university students and sees the collaboration with Jakob and The University of Iceland as an enriching one. He said:

 “The beauty of cultural exchange is that it really develops your network, and therefore your opportunities. I still have friends and contacts from visiting the states as a young man, and I think with the development of social media, it’s so much easier to maintain those friendships.”

 Plymouth Marjon University has schemes which make it easier for students to have international experiences, including the ‘Going Places’ bursary, which gives students a financial boost to get them started, and covers a variety of projects. As well as this, Plymouth Marjon students can go to America as part of the Camp America project, which allows students the opportunity to work at an American summer camp.

The trip to Iceland will go ahead in 2020, and Mark and Fiona hope that they have the opportunity to get more students involved.

Find out more about Place Based Outdoor Education

Find out more about Outdoor Adventure Education at Marjon


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