Saba Salem (middle) with colleagues of the State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments in Esslingen (© ifa/Kuhnle)
Saba Salem (middle) with colleagues of the State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments in Esslingen am Neckar. (© ifa/Kuhnle)

"My journey has just begun"

Saba Salem, CrossCulture scholarship holder from Bahrain, arrived in Germany in late summer of 2016 to learn more about methods and possibilities to preserve historical-cultural treasures. At the State Office for Preservation of Historical Monuments in Esslingen am Neckar she gathered valuable experience over a period of three months she knows a lot to talk about.

Interview by Wolfgang Kuhnle

ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen): During your CCP internship, you worked for the State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments in Esslingen. Could you give us an overview of your daily work and your responsibilities?

Saba Salem: Most of times, my colleagues and me went on site visits for different projects in different areas. We discussed the restoration concepts with architects and restorers. We also went on visits to review the work once the restoration process has been finished. Lots of things are different to my country Bahrain. Therefore I also read a lot of literature in the office about historic preservation.

ifa: Besides your work in Esslingen, you have also had the chance to be part of an international EU project in Cluj, Romania. What was the project about?

Salem: The workshop was about an illustrated glossary of conservation terms for wall paintings and architectural surfaces. The publication has been developed in 11 languages. It highlights the crucial role that multilingual vocabularies play in international preservation campaigns. To put it simple, it is like a documentation of the used terms and standards for everyone in this field. Besides the workshop, I also got the chance to visit Moldovan monasteries that are registered in the world heritage list. This was amazing experience. It gave me the impression of the Byzantine drawing style which is more common in Eastern Europe.

ifa: Soon, your internship in Germany comes to an end. Have you been able to gather work experiences in Esslingen which are fostering your professional career in Bahrain? If so, could you briefly describe how and in which situations you would use your gained knowledge?

Salem: I believe that the knowledge I gained in Germany is just a beginning. I wish I had three months more of time in order to be constantly on site, trying to work with different tools and methods. Once I finish my internship in Esslingen, I plan to finish my higher education. I will use my gained experiences to apply for a scholarship for my master studies. My journey has just started.

ifa: You have been living in Germany for almost three months. What are your impressions about the country, its culture and people? What would be your résumé?

Salem: I like the fact that there are lots of foundations here for different reasons. I truly hope that I can setup a foundation for heritage preservation in my country too. I found it inspiring that the universities have strong contact with the State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments in Esslingen. Sometimes they do projects together where students are able to work in actual heritage sites. I really like the German way of recycling things - for instance, the separation of trash. The local people are really helpful. And not to forget: the incredible ice-cream in Stuttgart. Even though it might sound as a joke, I wish I could franchise my favorite ice cream bar in Stuttgart to Bahrain.

Saba Salem

Saba Salem (27) holds a B.A. in Interior Design from the University of Bahrain. Currently, she works for the Ministry of Education since 2015. From 2012 until 2014, she worked for several architecture bureaus. Ms Salem furthermore did an advanced training in the fields of archaeology, monument protection and cultural heritage. From August until Oktober 2016, she did her CrossCulture Internship at the State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments in Esslingen (Neckar).

Saba Salem, CCP-Stipendiatin 2016 (© ifa/Kuhnle)