Paul Brooks portrait picture

Sponsoring a Klagenfurt Scholarship in memory of Gabriele Fluch

Paul Brooks and his family are providing financial support to a scholarship holder in the next cohort of the Klagenfurt Scholarship. We are delighted about the donation and the opportunity to support another scholarship holder as part of the programme and spoke to Paul Brooks about the reasons that motivated him to do so.

Mr Brooks, in the next cohort of the Klagenfurt Scholarship, you are providing financial support to a scholarship holder for the standard period of study of two years. Why did you decide to do this?

The main reason, is because my family and I were looking for ways to honour the memory of my cousin, Gabriele Fluch, who passed away in July 2021 after a battle with cancer. To make a very long story short, genealogy and family history is somewhat of a passion of mine. Doing research to try to find my maternal grandfather (who I had never met) eventually led me to Gabi, who became someone very important in my life. And since Gabi’s career was at the University of Klagenfurt, it seemed fitting to sponsor a Klagenfurt Scholarship.

How would you describe your cousin, Gabriele Fluch?

She possessed many qualities and was of course warm, and kind and caring. If I had to pick just two words to describe Gabi, I would say resilient and generous.

  • Resilient. Knowing some of the events that characterised her life, this is certainly an appropriate way to describe her.
  • Generous. In our very first exchange of letters she extended an invitation to visit her in Klagenfurt. She took time to describe my grandfather, to dig-up old pictures of him, and to introduce us to different parts of Austria.

What was your cousin’s role at the University of Klagenfurt?

She worked in admissions at the University of Klagenfurt, and her role was head of the Admissions and Examinations Office. She shared some anecdotes about her work and told me that she had a lot of contact with students, including many international students.

Please describe yourself briefly.

I grew up in both Canada and Belgium (but consider Belgium to be home). Growing up we spoke French and English at home, and Dutch I learned at school. I have a wife and son with whom I enjoy spending nearly every moment of my spare time. And in terms of work, I’ve been in Consulting for the past 10 years working with public sector organisations here in Belgium – both EU institutions and the Belgian government.

Coming to the Klagenfurt Scholarship, I want to support a student from the area of cultural and social sciences, because Gabi had interests in the fields of culture, history, philosophy and politics.

You live in Belgium. Is the idea of giving very present in Belgium?

I believe that yes, it is. Not necessarily financially – as not everyone has the means to do so and there are other ways that are just as valuable. But since I was young, I have observed many ways in which people give their time, including helping those who are less fortunate (e.g. preparing or serving meals to homeless people), teaching or passing on knowledge (e.g. coaching a sports team), or cleaning up litter in public areas.

The Scholarship Programme will start in autumn. We will have a kick-off event in October or November. Is it possible for you to be in Klagenfurt for the official start of the scholarship programme?

I have not been to Klagenfurt for many years, and I would certainly like to visit again. So, depending on the date, I would be very happy to attend.

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

When reading about scholarships at the University of Klagenfurt, it is mentioned that these scholarships help to draw young talent (back) to Carinthia. One of the many discussions I had with Gabi, was exactly this: young people leaving medium-sized and small cities and villages for large cities. And while very large cities are perceived as offering more opportunities for jobs, it isn’t always the case and comes at the expense of some other important criteria when it comes to well-being and having a good quality of life. Having been to Klagenfurt, I only have positive things to say about the city and I look forward to my next visit.

For more Information about Gabriele Fluch, please visit: