On July 1st, the Intercultural Mentoring Program of the International Office celebrated its tenth anniversary. The celebration took place in front of the International Office building and the weather did not disappoint. With a relaxing and celebratory atmosphere, the event offered a program of speeches, live music, drinks and finger food.
The celebration started with speeches by several employees, former employees, and the head of the International Office. The celebration was opened by the coordinators of the Intercultural Mentoring Program, Anu Dohna and Kerstin Glaser welcoming the guests. Following the welcome speech, the head of the International Office Marion Höcke remembered how it all started 10 years ago. She empathized the importance and the goal of the program: Making life for international students a little easier and reducing the number of international students who drop out of their courses or university. The former employee and first program coordinator Maja Heidenreich told stories they have encountered in the past, talked about the friendships that developed and marriages and even children that resulted from the exchange of the international and local students. She also spoke about the meaning of meeting people eye-to-eye and the importance of having a mentor – knowing that in difficult times you will know that there is at least one person who is there to help. Concluding her moving speech, the former employee spoke about the German word “Wohlwollen” which translates loosely to “wishing someone well” and how she wishes everyone did that more – wishing someone well.
The program continued with some music by several bands. While the finger food was served and the bar offered drinks, the band “Everybody speaks Music” which has had different band members throughout the years but always stayed active had its first performance of the night. The band played several fun songs to which the crowd sang along. The musical program continued by Ömer Yakabaği and Atilhan Kara, who also accompanied the performance on the instrument Bağlama, introducing the crowd to Turkish folkmusic. The in-house band continued with some more songs while the visitors enjoyed the atmosphere.
The anniversary was also visited by several former and current mentors and mentees of the mentoring program of the Intercultural Mentoring Program. The atmosphere encouraged the participants to connect and speak to other guests. When asked about the meaning of the Mentoring Program for her, a mentee, Candy Adusei said: “Coming from a different continent, it eased my mind to know there was a mentoring program, and that I could get a mentor who would help me navigate life at the university until I settled proper.” Candy learned about the Mentoring Program initiative at the website of the University. Her mentor helped her in many ways, be it by checking in on her or having fun hangouts where Candy had the chance to meet new people and build friendships and find her place in Stuttgart. Furthermore, Candy fully recommends the program: “It is such a thoughtful initiative, and the office has sessions with students even before they arrive, so they never feel alone.”
Ömer Yakabaği who performed during the celebration is also a mentee. He learned about the Mentoring Program through a research assistant he met on his first day in Stuttgart while trying to buy a ticket. When asked what made him join the program, Ömer said:” There is no better chance of getting to know German culture, as well as socializing.” He enjoyed the different activities that he got to participate in through the Mentoring Program, such as cooking, traveling and going to museums. Ömer jokingly said that he would not only recommend the program but would force people to join because it is such an amazing opportunity. After speaking to mentees, one can claim that the goal the Intercultural Mentoring Program initially set has indeed been accomplished.
Starting at the end of July, the Intercultural Mentoring Program is taking new registrations from mentees and mentors. For more information, visit this website: https://www.student.uni-stuttgart.de/mitmachen/mentoring/ . For general questions about the program, get in touch via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Xenia Hoff
Pictures: Sheng Chan