Scientific Experiences in Germany and Reintegration

Discussing one’s own scientific experiences during the stay in Germany and the problems and opportunities that arise when returning to one’s home country was the seminar’s focus which took place at the “Alte Feuerwache” in Berlin from September, 8th to 11th 2019. 30 scholars from 17 different countries attended the seminar which was led by the head of the Eastern Europe Department, Markus Leimbach, and academically accompanied by Pastoral Theologian, Prof. Dr. Klara Csiszar and the Migration Researcher Prof. Dr. Uwe Hunger. The seminar was led spiritually by P. Prof. Dr. Ulrich Engel OP who also celebrated the Holy Mass with the participants in the “Thomas-von-Aquin” Chapel of the Catholic Academy.

On the first day of the seminar and after short statements by the Professors Drebet and Kunicki as well as Dr. Baghmanyan about their experiences of studying abroad and of later returning to their home countries, wishes, hopes and problems of the participants were discussed together in small working groups. One of the problems in this context is that while one is studying abroad, the development at the universities in one’s home country also continues and consequently, one misses out on many developments and conditions as well as persons which were decisive before leaving might then no longer be present. This difficulty was later also confirmed by Prof. Csiszar’s lecture. Therefore, an important advice was to keep in touch with local contacts and to start looking specifically for jobs when still studying in Germany.

Things become problematic when there are different subject-specific classifications, such as “DaF” (German as a Foreign Language) which is considered to be part of the Department of German studies in Germany, but forms part of the Department of Educational Sciences in Georgia. In addition, some research facilities are not available or not needed in the specific home countries. In this context, problems of bureaucracy, corruption and nepotism in various countries were discussed which make it more difficult for the returnees to regain a foothold in the university environment.

The participants expressed their wish for being better accompanied by the partner committees through providing information about jobs, follow-up support or even direct contact when returning. Regarding KAAD’s role, the participants also expressed their wish for follow-up support, facilitating the possibilities of extending the scholarship contract and facilitating networking through international alumni events. With regard to KAAD’s educational work, besides seminars on reintegration, the interest in seminars on management as well as a collection of best practice examples was expressed. On the group’s initiative, a Facebook group will be set up in which partner committees, alumni and scholars can post job opportunities, internship offers and offers of assistance.

In her lecture, Prof. Csiszar stressed that the returnees should take into account the different speeds of development at the universities and thus, to carefully introduce new methods. Prof. Hunger presented the results of the study on KAAD scholars staying in Western Europe after their time of studying. In his lecture, he made clear that there could be no “brain gain” without “brain drain”. Especially India serves as a good example for this as migration and reintegration have been decisive for the country’s development. According to Hunger, “brain circulation” which refers to scientists, intellectuals and entrepreneurs working in two or more countries, will be important for the future.

The seminar was rounded up by a guided city tour through Berlin in the footsteps of the great scientist and researcher Alexander von Humboldt: A man who himself was wandering between different countries and had to deal with difficulties.