WISE 2011 Scholars visit the Indian Embassy
Last week I was at the WISE 2011 scholars meet in the capital city. WISE stands for Working Internships in Science and Engineering. Its a special fellowship of the DAAD extended to the bachelor students of India to pursue a summer research internship under direct supervision of a host professor in his/her research group at any of the leading universities of Germany. These students come from the various premier technological institutes of India such as the IITs, NITs, Birla Institutes and several others. They indeed belong to the cream of the technical talent in India. The objective of the WISE program is to provide these young students a unique exposure to research and education at German universities. Some of them also develop an interest to return to Germany for their graduate studies. The students stay on for varying periods of time between 2 and 3 months during which the DAAD provides them with a monthly stipend to meet their living expenses and also an allowance for their travel from and back to India. Every student has his own unique experiences to share and they all end up coming out with flying colors at the end of the whole European experience. This year there were about a 140 WISE scholars selected among almost 1000 equally deserving applications. This makes it a highly competitive scholarship and is indeed the most sought after summer fellowship program among the Indian bachelor students today! I am a proud WISE alumni too (batch of 2009)! More information about the WISE program can be found here: http://newdelhi.daad.de/mainFrame/home/wise2010.pdf
I was invited to the event to announce the 2nd generation Young Ambassador program of the DAAD-India. The announcement of the Young Ambassador program is also available at: http://newdelhi.daad.de/mainFrame/home/ya2011.pdf. I shall write more in detail about this in my next blog. The scholars’ meet was held at the the Freie Universität Berlin which stands by its historic significance and has indeed a beautiful campus. On the first day the students were informed about the DAAD by Frau Mock of the DAAD. This was followed by my presentation about the YA Program. Twenty minutes given to me to address this gathering was an enjoyable experience. It had certainly been quite long since I saw 150 enthusiastic Indian faces at once and since my school days I always loved speaking to a gathering. The day ended with an interesting workshop on intercultural communication by Ms. Tina Patel, an Indian living in Germany for the past 11 years and she now has her own intercultural training firm. The workshop specially focussed on several aspects of cultural differences that could exist between Indians and Germans in particular and how one could successfully deal with these potential barriers at workplaces or universities. The session ended with a conclusion that – “one can always ask as many questions about a culture but never question the culture itself!”
The final day of the meeting was indeed the most exciting one. The scholars began the day with a boat tour through the city of Berlin. The afternoon session had the most important section of the meet – a panel dicussion on the current state of internationalization of Indian universities. This event received much of the attention because it was attended by a team of leading technology journalists from India who are currently traveling through the country to learn and write about the technological advancement, research and the educational infrastructure of Germany. The panel itself consisted of several prominent members from different professions such as policy making, diplomacy and university management. The good part about this event was that I was given an opportunity to be a part of the panel as a representative of the younger section. My role was to provide a perspective of an international student in Germany. The fun-filled day ended with an exciting evening – a dinner at the Indian Embassy in Berlin. This was indeed priceless!