The 7th annual DAAD Scholarship Holders Meeting took place in Stellenbosch, South Africa from 23 June 2017 – 25 June 2017. Over the weekend, the DAAD South Africa Team, DAAD scholarship holders and various distinguished guests engaged in fruitful discussion on the topic of Interculturality and Migration, which served as theme for the entire weekend.
This year’s DAAD Scholarship Holders Meeting was very special in two ways. Firstly, it was the Director of DAAD South Africa, Philina Wittke’s last DAAD Scholarship Holders Meeting. She will finish her contract in November and go back to Germany in December of this year. She had previously successfully planned three of these annual meetings with her DAAD Team in Johannesburg. To say that her farewell speech on Sunday, 25 June 2017 moved her DAAD Team and the DAAD scholarship holders (whose lives she has touched in extraordinary ways over the last four years) would be an understatement. Her hard work, passion, knowledge and kind heart will be achingly missed in South Africa next year.
Secondly, the 2017 DAAD Scholarship Holders Meeting was also special and unique in that, thanks to Philina Wittke’s efforts, both South African and African DAAD scholarship holders who are currently studying and doing research at South African universities were invited to the Scholarship Holders Meeting. Previously, only South African DAAD scholarship holders could be invited. The discussion on Interculturality and Migration was then especially meaningful, as scholarship holders from various African countries could share their experiences of Interculturality and Migration at South African universities.
On the Friday evening of the 23rd of June, the DAAD scholarship holders, the DAAD South Africa Team and its guests went to the Residence of the German Ambassador in Cape Town where we were received by the German Consul General, Mr Matthias Hansen, and his team. The evening was filled with fun, laughter and dancing. The scholarship holders, the DAAD Team and its guests got to know each other in proper South African fashion: with good food, good wine and excellent music!
On the Saturday of the 24th of June the scholarship holders were treated to an insightful panel discussion on Interculturality and Migration in Higher Education Landscapes and had opportunity thereafter to share some of their experiences of Interculturality and Migration at South African universities. After the panel discussion, the scholarship holders attended their selected workshops which aimed to help them with their research, postgraduate life and to provide them with insight into the workforce, which lies on the horizon for many of these talented young academics.
After Saturday’s intensive programme, the DAAD Team wanted to treat the scholarship holders and its guests to some fun and so thought it best to introduce them to the German culture with a mini Oktoberfest. Philina Wittke donned a proper German outfit and told the assembled crowd a bit more about how Germans function on a daily basis. She and Ntsiki (DAAD Team) then showed the crowd a unique German dance and pretty soon everybody was dancing along, whilst, of course, enjoying good beer and good food.
After the exciting German cultural evening on Saturday night, the scholarship holders were given a bit more information on studying and research in Germany on Sunday morning. The assembly also had the pleasure to listen to four DAAD Alumni members, who were kind and open enough to share some of their experiences of travels in Germany and the importance of DAAD in their lives with the assembly. The DAAD Team was then very sad to greet the scholarship holders on Sunday afternoon. But as the Germans say, those who can party hard, can also work hard and so all of us had to return to our lives at the university and continue to find solutions for international problems in our research.
The DAAD Team cannot hope to fully express its gratitude to both the scholarship holders and its guests for making this weekend so memorable. The weekend exceeded our expectations in millions of ways. It was an honour to get to know the DAAD scholarship holders and to listen to their stories and experiences. We welcome them to an ever-growing and global DAAD Family. Go out into the world and make a change!