Samia and CrossCulture Internship Programme
I am a Bangladeshi currently working in Prague, Czech Republic. I am a graduate of Economics from the University of Dhaka. During my undergraduate years I was awarded SUSI scholarship – a student exchange program by the US State government. I have taken part in inspirational leadership workshops – World Youth Services and enterprise (WYSE) International Leadership Programme and Peace Revolution Fellowship. In Bangladesh I worked in communications, research and coordination within the fields of publishing, human rights and development. I enjoy writing prose and poems – A Wistful Existence is my first book of poems inspired by photography.
In 2013 CrossCulture internship scholarship was introduced to Bangladesh for the first time and I achieved the opportunity of a professional exchange programme in Germany. This is sponsored by the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (Ifa) of the German foreign office to encourage intercultural dialogue. It allows professionals from many countries get an exposure to German working life and lifestyles. At the same time, it allows Germans to know more about the world. I fondly remember the cultural conversations I would have with my supervisor Timo. Since I worked in publishing at that time, my focus area was Media – hence my host organisation was Kulturaustausch magazine of the Ifa. I worked from July to September as a writer and researcher for the publication on cultural issues and foreign policy. It was a beautiful summer when I experienced living on my own, that too in Berlin. There are fascinating events related to learning, music, culture etc which you can be a part of during your stay. I truly enjoyed being splashed with the colour of the city. Other scholarship holders were wonderful people from global places – each with their different projects, area of work and stories. IFA arranges crossculture workshops – where scholarship holders living in different German cities get invited to Stuttgart for a few days of interactive learning and networking. Scholarship holders can meet with institutions similar to their home organisation – IFA arranges these meetings. Each person has different levels of involvement in the host company during the stay – there are alumni who continued projects with their offices in Germany even after returning home. After my return I wrote for the magazine a few more times. I was the Country Representative of the programme in Bangladesh for one term – assisted German Embassy with candidate interviews, advised Germany-bound lucky participants and promoted the scholarship through my networks.
Remember that CCP is relevant to professionals working with several areas. Politics & Society,
Human Rights & Peace Building, Sustainable Development and Media & Culture for “Islamic World” module and Human Rights, Migration & Refugees, Political Education & Youth Participation, Knowledge Society, Intercultural Dialogue, Mediation & Reconciliation and Media for the “Eastern Partnership & Russia” module. Will a banker be eligible for the scholarship? No, but if the banker runs a voluntary project on youth engagement in his region for example – his chances are better.
There are two aspects to this programme. One is definitely the exposure to German work environment while the second part is the cultural immersion. These two factors should ideally be evident in your motivation within the application. Illustrate clearly what learning points you wish to take from the experience of working in a German firm similar to your home institution and the kind of people in this industry you want to meet. If you have brilliant ideas on how to connect projects of your home company/project with host institution in Germany, then feel free to explain them. Your coherent perspectives on what you have to gain from this experience will score you points. As for cultural exchange – IFA would be interested to have foreigners bring a wonderful and open mind to lifestyle and cultural differences in German cities. In the application you may highlight the cultural aspects of Germany that appeal to you strongly – it could be the football teams or political scene, for instance. How will your exposure to German professional platforms bring change to your work or attitude back home? What expectations do you have from this? Your answers should bring out some of the ways you and your community benefit from your visit. You may want to know more about fundraising strategies or communications methods used by NGOs there – to enhance your work with innovation back home.
Good luck, hope you can make the best from this exchange!