Intercultural Week in Ilmenau: Students shape a better world on site

Tackling the challenges facing students in Ilmenau and Thuringia - this was the motto of the first Intercultural Week in Ilmenau. From environmental protection to finding a job after graduation - the participants spent ten days discussing topics that concern them.

Gruppenbild_zur_Intercultural_Week_Ilmenau Pavel Chatterjee
Das Orga-Team der Interkulturellen Woche in Ilmenau

"Preserving our environment is important to me," says student Sajid Chitrali. He grows his own fruit and vegetables in his home country of Pakistan, and he is also keen to make the TU Ilmenau campus greener. In a "Sustainability" working group as part of the Intercultural Week in Ilmenau (ICW), the media engineering student met like-minded fellow students who are committed to preserving our environment. During the project week, they discussed environmental problems and worked together to find solutions.

Whether it was climate change, a semester abroad or finding a doctor in Ilmenau - during the ICW, students from Ilmenau and Thuringia tackled issues that concern them locally. The conference was organized for the first time this year by the student association "Initiative Solidarische Welt Ilmenau" and is based on the idea of the "International Student Week in Ilmenau" (ISWI), the largest student conference of its kind in Germany. In contrast to the ISWI, the ICW places a stronger focus on local issues and problems faced by students and the local population in Ilmenau and the surrounding area. These were addressed in small group work, discussions, presentations and debates.

One of the focal points of this year's ICW was to support international students in finding a job more easily after their studies. Shaoni Mitra, student of the Masters Research in Computer & Systems Engineering, led the "Job Opportunities" working group. Together with the group members, she prepared questions for a panel discussion at a career fair during the ICW, which brought together talented people from TU Ilmenau with companies from the region. The student from India wants to prepare her fellow students for the job market in Germany:

The language barrier in particular is often a hurdle for international students when applying for a job. With our working group, we want to make it easier for them to get a job. We gave specific tips on how to structure a CV, but also which soft skills are particularly in demand in certain jobs.

Niklas Loos, board member of the Initiative Solidarische Welt Ilmenau association, would like to use the ICW to offer students a platform to get to know each other, share their opinions and work on possible solutions:

Regardless of their personal, social or cultural background - at the ICW we bring students from Ilmenau and Thuringia together. During the week, they had the chance to deal with the topics that are important to them in a structured way and to meet fellow campaigners with whom they share the desire to make a positive difference.

Motivating students to take action and shape a better world on the ground - this is also what Prof. Jens Wolling, Head of the Group of Empirical Media Research and Political Communication at TU Ilmenau, wants to do. The committed environmentalist used the ICW to talk to the students about the consequences of rainforest deforestation, but also to draw their attention to local environmental problems such as the effects of climate change on the spread of the bark beetle and the associated consequences for Thuringia's forests. He wants to encourage students to stand up for their ideas:

According to the motto - think globally and act locally - we want to encourage students to critically examine the causes of global problems and their consequences. However, we do not want to stop at analysis, but to initiate concrete changes locally. Especially in the Sustainability Working Group at TU Ilmenau, which is made up of students, I see how motivated young people are making our campus and the city more sustainable and initiating positive changes. It would be a great result if more initiatives of this kind were to emerge from the ICW.

After the exchange in his working group, Sajid is more motivated than ever to work for the preservation of our nature and to apply what he has learned from the ICW not only in Ilmenau, but also in his home country:

I want to sensitize my community to protect our environment. I will take this resolution with me when I return after my studies.


Impressions of the Intercultural Week