Thirty former, current, and future KAAD scholarship holders, all of whom have been and will be sponsored for the Master's programme in Social Pedagogy at our Jesuit partner university Rafael Landívar (URL), took part in this seminar in Antigua Guatemala. KAAD alumnae Melissa Angélica Lemus García and Dr Leonor Lucia González Quiñónez, who were instrumental in setting up the degree programme, had prepared workshops in which the participants addressed questions such as: What are the biggest social challenges in my work environment? What should our (personal/institutional) commitment as a member of the international KAAD network consist of?
For many participants, the seminar meant their first direct contact with the KAAD community in Guatemala and a representative of the Bonn office. The event therefore also served the purpose of expanding the KAAD network and intensifying its ties. The Master's course at the URL plays a central role in this, also because numerous representatives of the local church support this project. As the graduates complete the course while working, they apply the programme's content directly in their areas of work. The third cohort of students will begin their studies in January 2024. KAAD has awarded ten scholarships to particularly qualified and committed employees of church institutions (Caritas, Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala (ODHAG), etc.). As part of its commitment to Guatemala, the Global Church Department of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart provides the complete funding for these scholarships.
The programme of the official visit also included a meeting with alumnae and alumni who have completed Master's and doctoral studies in Germany in the past years. During a dinner meeting, ten of these alumni reported on their diverse professional activities at universities, in public administration or in the private sector. The alumnae and alumni have established themselves well professionally after sometimes difficult beginnings. Many of them belong to international KAAD alumni groups (Salud Global, Ecología Integral etc.).
Towards the end of his stay, Thomas Krüggeler had the opportunity to talk to the Rector of the URL, Fr Miquel Cortés Bofill SJ, who is an important partner of KAAD because, as President of the Guatemala Partner Committee, he directs the fate of our work in Central America. Fr Cortés attaches great importance to the link between university education and the social commitment of the church. That is why he is just as interested in the Master's course in Social Pedagogy as he is in our efforts to support students from Guatemala during their studies in Germany.
The visit from 8 to 15 November 2023 took place at a time of great political uncertainty in Guatemala, as the country's internationally largely discredited government is leaving no stone unturned to prevent the inauguration of the elected president, César Bernardo Arévalo de León, at the beginning of next year. KAAD alumni and representatives of the URL also took part in peaceful protests against the government.