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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

25th September 2018 Vienna, Austria

A visit to an Islamic school in Vienna

The questions come thick and fast.  Then the selfies.

I take every opportunity I can to visit schools and universities in Austria.  Talking about the UK, Brexit and UK-Austrian relations helps to get across the message that the UK is open for business.

Getting in touch with people who perhaps do not often meet diplomats is also a good way to explain what diplomats actually do.

So I was delighted recently to visit the Islamisches Realgymnasium (Islamic Grammar School) in Vienna.  The school, which is in the 15th District of Vienna, has around 300 students and has been running since 1999.  It has a terrific web-site, currently being rebuilt, which includes some background on the school (in German) and reports on recent events including a visit to London taking in everything from squirrels and Camden Lock Market to the Tower of London, Chinatown, the British Museum and fish and chips (yum).

What I liked most about the school was the questions.  I have visited many schools in many countries, and the quality and quantity of questions I get from students varies.  I thought the questions at the Islamisches Realgymnasium were some of the most perceptive, and thoughtful, that I had experienced, and gave me confidence that the students are a lively and able bunch.

Thanks to the students (and staff) at the school for welcoming me so warmly – and for taking so many selfies!  Keep studying hard, and I look forward to visiting again.

And if any other schools in Vienna or beyond would welcome a visit, please get in touch with our press team on press@britishembassy.at.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.