Three Questions to...
By Katharina Ludwig
In February 12 CrossCulture scholarship holders from ten countries with different cultural backgrounds and different fields of professional expertise participated in a workshop in Stuttgart. They exchanged experiences, knowledge and ideas, plans and dreams - and found out that they share the same sense of humour. They left as a group with a better understanding for cultures, many new ideas, perspectives of cooperation as well as newly gained friendships.
We want to introduce three participants of the workshop. We talked with Azamat, Maqsud and Noman about their work and their experiences as CrossCulture scholarship holders in Germany.
Tradition meets the modern world
ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen): What are your impressions about Germany so far? Did you recognize differences and similarities to your home country?
Noman: I recognized a lot of differences in my field of work: here in Germany for example I work with very different materials and machines. In my organization AHAN we use sewing machines that are less modern. Also most people wear very different kinds of fashion, but this is changing in Pakistan, too. People wear western clothes more often. The food is also very different. The place where I am coming from, Lahore, is known as the food hub of Pakistan. I miss it very much so I mostly cook by myself.
A similarity is the carnival. We have a lot of festivals in Pakistan and I can see something like that in the German carnival. It was a very festive atmosphere and I enjoyed it very much. It was like in my country.
ifa: What does your work as a designer look like?
Noman: I am a textile designer, but with AHAN I am working as a product designer. I design embroideries for bags, clothing, cushions and also non-textile products like woodworks, ceramics and leather embroideries. I design and the artisans confect the product. AHAN also is responsible for quality insurance, it develops marketing strategies for the artisans and supports them financially, too. To connect with the population and AHAN artisans we travel a lot. People are very happy to work with us and they really appreciate that we offer them stipends and that we organize workshops and all the material. Here in Germany I work at the designing department of Madeira Garne. It's very nice to work with them on different tasks and they are very friendly. At the moment we produce textile fish which are for an upcoming exhibition in Cologne.
ifa: What are your sources of inspiration?
Noman: When working on products I mostly include some ethnic and traditional artwork like we have in Pakistan. This could be the blue pottery from Multan (Punjab) or colourful embroideries from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I combine modern influences and traditional elements in my design and create something new and unique. Here in Germany I'm learning about new things like different materials and modern techniques and technologies. This will definitely help to develop new products. I think I will also include some German elements – especially what I experienced in the carnival season. I will extract some elements and put them into my designs in Pakistan.
Every child is a genius like Einstein
ifa: What did you notice when comparing the education styles in Germany and Kazakhstan?
Azamat: The CCP Internship is a very big opportunity for our organisation to learn from German experiences with inclusive education. In my home country we don't have inclusive education; here it is implemented in practice. The building of Kinderhaus Bachwiesenstraße for example is fully adapted to the needs of children with disabilities and I was impressed by the attention that is paid to the creative development of children. There are many activities like drawing or modelling with clay. For me it is also very exciting to observe how the educators teach the children also to use non-verbal communication, as I never had contact with this kind of practice before. But I noticed another difference: in Stuttgart there are many different ethnical groups - it's the same in Kazakhstan. But the difference is that in Germany there are many different languages spoken, whereas in Kazakhstan there are only two: Kazakh and Russian. Therefore it is very interesting for me how children, who don't speak German, are educated within a German environment.
ifa: What is it like to work with autistic children?
Azamat: It is very challenging. We try to teach them how they can communicate and adapt to the community, because they cannot interact easily with other people. But we believe that every child is a genius like Einstein. In Kazakhstan people with special needs isolate themselves and don’t receive special support. I hope that in the future we can overcome these problems. But I am confident. The media talk about inclusive education frequently, the government knows about the problems and they are trying to improve the situation step by step. There is definitely a development in Kazakhstan.
ifa: Do you think the CCP Internship is beneficial for your further professional development?
Azamat: Of course. When I go back I'll try to implement some practices in my organisation which I learned here. Thanks to ifa I can make this experience.
Music connects people
Ifa: In your application you mentioned the differences in perception and significance of music in everyday life in Uzbekistan and Germany. How does music influence the development of children?
Maqsud: Music is very important for the development of children. We say that if a child listened to the mother’s lullaby it will grow up kind and gentle. I also like the education systems of Europe and America. Every child has to learn at least one art subject at school - music, drawing or poetry. I wish it was the same in my country. But we will work on it. The perception and significance of music in everyday life in Uzbekistan cannot be changed easily. But this is what I’m trying in my job at school - changing the perceptions of music and art, from childhood on. I like music, I like teaching and I like children. So I can say that I am happy that I can combine all at the same time.
ifa: In which way can music connect people?
Maqsud: Music is unique. It has no language. You can be understood via your music everywhere in the whole world. It’s the most powerful thing in international connections. Globalisation also makes music more multicultural and diverse. And because music tells about the history, life and feelings of people, you can even learn about other cultures through music.
ifa: Do you think the CCP Internship is beneficial for your further professional and personal development?
Maqsud: Without a doubt. It offers a lot of information and contacts to make one’s ideas real. I will encourage my students with my experiences in Germany and share ideas how to be prepared for studies or to work in collaborative projects. I would also like to become a Country Representative in Uzbekistan for ifa when I am back to help other scholarship holders to successfully complete their internship here and to improve their skills.
"It was absolutely amazing, I learned a lot and I met other interns. The feeling of an intercultural sphere is the most awesome thing I have ever enjoyed. The methodologies were outstanding and lively and everyone had the chance to participate."
Zulaikha Afzali, Afghanistan
"I am proud about my national culture and identity. But this does not exclude contact to other cultures. On the contrary, I believe that cultural diversity is an opportunity to exchange positive elements of our own culture, build bridges and overcome religious, cultural and other differences."
Khaleda Abusoboh, Palestine
"I want to see the world through your eyes, not only through my own cultural lens."
Abdullah Albusaidy, Oman
"The interactive games revealed a lot of things that I was not aware of before."
Maqsudjon Ubaev, Uzbekistan
"In terms of learning I consider myself as a child. I have to be more confident and patient, face difficult situations and ask more questions."
Laila Khalid, Pakistan