“Continuing my academic carrier in Germany has undoubtedly helped me to achieve my academic and professional goals”. From the Faculty of Engineering in Mansoura University to the Technische Universität Berlin in Germany, Dr Mo’men Elsoudani’s story, DAAD alumni, represents an inspiring example of a growing experience at the academic, professional and personal level abroad.
As in Dr Elsoudani’s case, many Egyptian young scientists and researchers have benefited from the various set of DAAD’s services to continue their academic and professional career in Germany. Manifestly, DAAD regional office in Cairo has been a leading institution for the promotion of scientific exchange, guided by the motto “change for exchange”. Since 1925, DAAD has supported Egyptians in the pursuit of their academic and professional projects in Germany by providing scholarships for the best, structures for internationalisation and expertise for academic collaboration.
Within the scope of COSIMENA (Clusters of Scientific Innovation in the Middle East and North Africa), this year DAAD organized the first digital “German Science Week 2020” from September 13th until September 17th. Throughout this five-day conference, the DAAD and German Universities and Institutions offered information about career opportunities and the research landscape in Germany. The event also intended to intensify scientific collaboration and increase the visibility of networks between researchers and universities in Germany and countries of the Middle East and North Africa. “In times of distress the only way to come out is in global solidarity” Ms. Isabell Mering, director of the DAAD Cairo, stated in the opening remarks, highlighting the necessity to continue promoting global scientific exchange especially during the challenging context of the current global pandemic.
Throughout each session of the German Science Week, young Egyptian scientists could therefore receive detailed information about the German scientific landscape and the different opportunities available. In addition to informative sessions, the event included soft-skills modules, scientific talks, Alumni-reports and Q&A time which created a rich, various and stimulating environment for exchange. The second part of German Science Week continued in the three following days with presentations and lectures and participants were able to delve into more specific detail of the theme of the conference with presentations of German universities and institutions in combination with soft-skills modules and testimonials from DAAD-Alumni.
Presentations of German Universities and Institutions
Four German Universities conducted informative presentations about the objectives and values as well as its programmes and application requirements. Furthermore, the key sponsorship programmes and the different research tracks were outlined, and the services provided by each university during the stay in Germany. The universities and institutions were the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), Technical University-Munich, the University of Marburg and the Freie Universität Berlin (FU-Berlin).
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic had a strong impact on many fields of our every day life and science. The aim and scope if the scientific talks during the German Science Week shed some light on the current debates in the scientific field in the last few months.
The first one was titled “Economy and Employment” with a detailed analysis of the economic and employment consequences of the current global pandemic. His presentation included a detailed analysis of the economic and employment consequences of the current global pandemic. He also took the different contexts of Germany and Egypt under scrutiny and he compared the two situations.
The topic of the second was “COVID-19 and the City: Experiences from Germany & Egypt”. This presentation focused on the new demands arising in the field of urban planning and development. Remarkably, a huge transformation of the houses and the public space is occurring as a consequence of the necessity to work from home and maintaining social distancing. The scientific talk of the third day touched the subject of “Water Resource Management”. Dr. Maria Vrachioli from TU-München offered an overview of the problem of water scarcity both in the world in general and in the specific case of Egypt.
Soft Skills Modules
In addition to understand the academic landscape in Germany, young scientists must be able to find a supervisor. For this reason, the DAAD organized a specific soft-skill module on “How to contact a supervisor/Professor?”. During this session, the necessity to understand how to approach a Professor in order to find a suitable supervisor for the research.
The other modules were about critical thinking, an “Intercultural Training” and “Ethics in Science”. “Critical Thinking” is an effective critical thinking process starting from identifying the problem, proving that the problem exists, searching for its causes to then analysing its future consequences and assessing whether the impact of that problem is crucial.
In the module “Ethics in Science”, the trainer Dr Tarek Tawfik explained the gravity of scientific misconduct and offered precious instructions on how to avoid falling into it. Last but not least, during the soft-skills module on Intercultural Training mentioned the difficulty in precisely defining the term “culture” and developing intercultural competence as an articulated concept composed of different elements involving knowledge, skills and attitudes, was discussed. Each soft skills module was followed by space for Q&A between the participants and speakers.
Various DAAD-Alumni shared their inspiring testimonials about working with the DAAD and their stay in Germany. Dr Mo’men Elsoudani described his successful experience between Egypt and Germany and the different stages of his academic career.
And in light of his positive research experiences abroad, Dr El-Mouelhi encouraged Egyptians to continue studying in Germany and offered some advice. He stated that dedication and passion are fundamental prerequisites for starting this kind of experience. “
The third day ended with an engaging testimonial from Ms. Marwa Schumann, a former DAAD scholarship holder who “acknowledging the challenges related to studying in Germany at the scientific level as well as at the cultural and linguistic levels, while highlighted the numerous benefits of such an experience.
On the last day, the Fifth day, the German Science Week concluded with a stimulating panel discussion to provide further guidelines for continuing the academic career in Germany where various speakers were answering fundamental questions to understand how to best engage into a research programme in Germany: What are the advantages for Egyptian scholars and researchers in pursuing their academic career in Germany? And what are the characteristics that German universities’ professors are looking for while choosing a candidate to work with? What are the basic academic qualifications required for a doctoral research? And how can Egyptian universities increasingly move towards internationalisation?
Even though the character of this year edition of the German Science Week was transformed because of the exceptional circumstances of the global pandemic, the DAAD has been able to provide a various, stimulating, and rich event in a digital format. “It is a very precious initiative for Egyptian students because they can have more information about the German system and understand the benefits and challenges of learning and researching in the German academic environment”, Mr. Mohammed Taha, one of the speakers of the conference, explained. “This week should be a necessary annual event on the agenda of Egyptian scholars”, he concluded. The director of the DAAD Cairo, Ms. Isabell Mering, also shared her thoughts on the outcome of the event.
Overall, the digital edition of the “German Science Week 2020” succeeding in offering a space for exchange, networking and intellectual development beneficial for all those ambitious Egyptian scholars who desire to continue their academic carrier in Germany.
Author: Veronica Merlo