The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages in Iceland will from now on be a part of UNESCO and will be called the United Nations Cultural Institute.
The VFIFL is the first international languages institute to receive such recognition and backing from the UN, according to its head, Auður Hauksdóttir.
A design competition is now set to be announced for a new 3,000 square metre home for the institute which will rise on Suðurgata in Reykjavík. It is planned for the new building to cost ISK 1.4 billion (EUR 8.75 million), RÚV reports. ISK 150 million of that money has yet to be secured; but rector of the University of Iceland Kristín Ingólfsdóttir believes the rest of the money will be easily found, even in difficult economic times.
She told RÚV that there is plenty of interest in the institute overseas and a lot of groups wishing to visit. The enlarged and improved institute will work in a wide range of areas and will push knowledge and enthusiasm for foreign languages. It is also expected to create new employment opportunities for linguists, and others.
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was Iceland’s, and the world’s, first democratically elected head of state and was President from 1980 to 1996. She has been closely associated with the UN and was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 1998. She is a passionate supporter of preserving the Icelandic language; but is also a committed proponent of foreign language learning and inter-cultural exchange.