Learning from those who have succeeded: DAAD alumni from all over the world met in Bonn to talk about their return home and develop recommendations to make returning easier for others in the future.
A lot has changed for the alumni of the Development-Related Postgraduate Courses since completing their studies in Germany. Dr. Norma Ely Santos Beltrão from Brazil, for instance, now holds the position of professor rather than assistant. She used to teach Bachelor’s students; today she collaborates on developing curricula for Master’s courses and Ph.D. programmes. “My superiors place more trust in me thanks to the qualifications that I earned in Germany,” says the academic.
Difficulties encountered upon returning
The majority make a conscious decision to return to their home countries – and encounter a variety of difficulties there. Family and colleagues often have high expectations of the alumni. At the same time, they are sceptical of the new methods and procedures the alumni bring with them from the German universities. Others first have to struggle for recognition of their new skills and are placed in positions far below their competency levels. “You return, are well educated – and no one has heard of you” is how Gerald Mwila from Zambia describes his situation. Lack of equipment, problems with Internet access and low salaries also complicate entry into the local working environment.
Networks and planning
During the workshop, participants developed concrete measures and recommendations for the DAAD, the universities and the alumni of the EPOS programme. The former should confront scholarship holders and students with the topic of reintegration early on and prepare them for the return home in workshops. Most importantly, the alumni advised the scholarship holders to be flexible but still true to their own identity. After the workshop, the alumni visited their host universities and presented the results of the meeting there.
Network coordinator Robin Pass was very satisfied with the result of the meeting. “I’m glad that the universities recommended exactly the right representative from each course! It was a heterogeneous group that had great dynamics and worked professionally. The workshop was a complete success – both technically and at the personal level.” Two more workshops on the topic of reintegration are planned for the near future. The goal is to increase the number of participants and have representatives from all 40 of the EPOS courses participate in the discussion.
Coming up soon on Millennium Express:
Three alumni report on their return home in a short video interview and give useful tips to current scholarship holders. Don’t miss it!