What is ISFiT?

The International Student Festival in Trondheim (ISFiT), is the world’s largest international student festival. It has been organized every second year since 1990, gathering students from all over the world for ten days of dialogue, cultural events, workshops and more. The next festival takes place in February 2023, and will invite students from different backgrounds to discuss the theme “Polarization”. Will you join us?

ISFiT23: Polarization

The theme for ISFiT23 is “Polarization”. With this theme, we want to explore different aspects and challenges related to polarization. Many would probably argue that with the spread of social media polarization is at an all-time high. We are isolated in our own echo chambers and the distance between us is growing. But polarization is more than just politics: It is also economic polarization in the form of growing inequality and it is polarization related to our identity. The goal of this theme is for students, from the whole world, to reflect on their contribution to polarization and the implications of it. How can we see past our differences? How can we build bridges with our neighbors? Polarization is shaking the very foundation of our democracy – therefore we must discuss it!

With what will be more than 450 volunteers, this organization hopes to make this a festival that will inspire and encourage the participants to join each other in conversation about the theme, to listen, and accept all the different opinions. This organization aspires to help the participants come up with possible solutions to the problems they face in their countries and at their universities, and believes the best way to do so is through dialogue and intercontinental networking.

The History of ISFiT

It all started back in 1988, when a group of students at Studentersamfundet had an idea of creating an international student festival to gather students from all over the world to create unity between students across borders. Since the very beginning, ISFiT has held a wide program of cultural events providing entertainment to both the international audience and the citizens of Trondheim. The cultural program of ISFiT consists of concerts, scene art, meetings and ceremonies. Through the cultural program, ISFiT wishes to create a venue where the participants get the opportunity to break through cultural barriers. During the festival there will also be workshops. These are smaller workgroups where participants will be discussing and sharing their views on topics related to the theme. Right before the festival kicks off in Trondheim there will be held dialogue groups where participants will meet to understand their situation and how to use dialogue as a tool. The dialogue groups have been running since 1997, and have spanned various conflicts and countries since that time.
A year later, in 1998, the students of ISFiT began to wonder why the Nobel Peace Prize was never awarded to students. This was the beginning of the Student Peace Prize. The Student Peace Prize will be handed out during the festival, to a student or student organization that strives towards peace and understanding rather than violence.
Over the years a number of significant people have visited the festival, including Gro Harlem Brundtland, the Dalai Lama, Chai Ling, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams and numerous others.

Photo: foto.samfundet.no

DIALOGUE GROUPS: What is it?

The participants for the dialogue groups will come to Norway ten days ahead of the festival and stay at a cabin in Røros, which is a small town just outside of Trondheim. The purpose for the dialogue groups is to attempt an even more practical approach to peace building, and have students from three separate focus areas come together with the aim of creating an understanding of the different point of views, as well as have these participants form friendships across ethnical, cultural, religious or political situations.

WORKSHOPS: What are they?

The 500 participants that are invited to come to the festival, will be divided into different workshops, and will for the ten days that the festival last, spend most of their days participating in these workshops.

Each participant will be part of only one workshop for the entirety of their stay in Trondheim and will work closely with and form strong friendships with both the participants in their workshop, as well as outside of it.

The Team

ISFiT is built from the ground up by a team of 500 student volunteers living in Trondheim, Norway.

The Community

ISFiT is made possible through the generous support of numerous individuals and organisations in Trondheim. Some of our key partners include: