The Lectureship Program in Asia

On a Chartered Train from Krzyżowa to Stuttgart: the Lectureship Program Turns 20

Picture Gallery

Photos: Jan Zappner
Party car: Line Dance Group
"Country Express" Georgia
Oliver Radtke, Ulrich Bopp, and Carsten Vogel
"Country Express" Serbia
Stopover in Berlin
Departure in Berlin
Language class in Chinese
Former lecturer (China)
Arrival at Stuttgart central station
Banquet at the Stuttgart Wagenhallen

They came to the anniversary gathering in the Polish city of Krzyżowa by plane from Brussels, by car from Prague, and, of course, by train from Slovakia and Upper Franconia. Between September 19 and 21, over 200 former lecturers celebrated the 20-year anniversary of one of the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s oldest language programs. The group then traveled for two days on a historic chartered train once used by the DDR state railroad from Krzyżowa in Lower Silesia to Berlin and from there on to Stuttgart.

After all, the train is the main form of transportation used in the Lectureship Program for German Graduates at Universities in Eastern Europe and China. At least it was during the many years in which the lecturers’ job was to teach German and convey an up-to-date image of Germany to students, primarily at Eastern European universities. With the eastward expansion of the European Union, the program also traveled further east, with lecturers now no longer working in Hungary or the Czech Republic. Instead, they are teaching German and other subjects for one or two years at universities in China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia. The train as a mode of transportation has therefore become less important.

"And where were you?"

But in this case, the train was definitely the perfect place to see familiar faces and meet other lecturers, and on the two ten-hour trips between Krzyżowa and Berlin and Berlin and Stuttgart, they had plenty of time to do so. The first question asked to spark a conversation was almost always "And where were you?" Moments later, they found themselves in the middle of an expert talk on unpredictable border controls, delicious meals, and foreign university systems. Train music played in the club car, line and tango dancing was held in the party car, and the lounge car served Russian soup. In a series of presentations titled "Country Express," lecturers spoke about the almost 30 countries where they served, offered introductory language classes in Chinese and Russian, puzzled over a nostalgia quiz, and held talks about the Belarusian art scene and the German-Polish border region.

The anniversary celebration began with a day of workshops at the International Conference Center Krzyżowa. The program included topics such as biographical writing about the time spent in the lectureship program and professional networking as well as crash courses in project management and "thinking outside the box." The lecturers discussed the political situation in Hungary and learned more about the Krzyżowa manor and its former owners, the Moltke family, during a literary tour.

During the anniversary train’s stopover in Berlin, previous lecturers spoke about the benefits and drawbacks of international educational partnerships during a panel discussion at the Stiftung’s office. At the end of the event, the participants were served special cultural delicacies during a banquet at the Stuttgart Wagenhallen.

(Julia Rommel , October 2013)