Investing in the return home after a scholarship abroad makes sense. After all, the next step is all about finding an interesting and engaging way to apply newly-gained knowledge and expertise. Reintegration, an often undervalued aspect of the scholarship experience, was the focus at this year’s postgraduate course networking event in Bonn.
“I am really impressed with how the DAAD honours our input and tries to integrate our ideas into the further development of the programme,” says scholarship holder and urban planner Abdalrahman Alshorafa. Hailing from Palestine, Alshorafa studies Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design at the University of Stuttgart.
Ideas for weekend seminars
The DAAD has been sponsoring weekend seminars as part of its Development-Related Postgraduate Courses programme since 2001. The weekend events offer conflict prevention training, for example, various excursions and field trips, as well as seminars on topics such as reintegration. On the agenda for this year’s two-day networking event was to capitalise on both the experience and creativity of those who had already attended a weekend seminar and discuss ways to improve the offering on the topic of reintegration.
The scholarship holders who gathered in Bonn had plenty of ideas to share. Working in groups, they developed interesting and unique approaches for easing reintegration into home-country labour markets. It did not take long before it was clear that reintegration was more than just about getting a job. True to the DAAD programme aims, the scholarship holders are committed to returning as “change agents” and making a positive impact as leading professionals and managers in their fields.
Wanted: Practical experience
The students also voiced an interest in coming into contact early on with experts in their areas of interest. They suggested a seminar on career paths featuring experts be offered towards the end of one’s stay in Germany. A seminar like this would provide them with a sense for the skills and strategies required in the current job market. Stories of programme alumni who had “made it” in their fields are also particularly motivating and inspiring.
The scholarship holders are also clear in their desire for more hands-on experience. Hannah Adom-Ameyaw from Ghana, for example, sees role-playing as an effective tool for practicing negotiating or conflict management in the workplace.
“Things like these are not covered in university curricula. That’s why we invite external partners to these kinds of extra-curricular seminars,” explains Anke Stahl, who is responsible for the Development-Related Postgraduate Courses programme at DAAD. “The labour market is constantly changing, becoming more and more international and mobile. It’s up to us to adjust our programme accordingly. Among other things, this means taking a closer look at the transition back into the working world and making sure our scholarship holders are prepared.”
“We encourage scholarship holders to stay active as alumni once they graduate,” continues Stahl. One breakout session result was the idea to establish graduate associations in each of the countries of origin. Another group presented the idea of “regional collaboration camps” as a way to foster intense collaboration on complex and practical development projects. The idea of an alumni mentorship programme to bridge the gap between university study and career also came up.
“Not one single idea will be forgotten,” assured Anke Stahl at the close of the networking event. “We’re taking all of the suggestions with us and will see which ones are do-able.”
Apropos „reintegration“: Don`t miss to visit our blog „back home“, where alumni report on their experiences returning to their home country! Take a peek!
Image gallery networking event 30.04.2013:
Photos: Daniela Schmitter