Building the Blueprint: the 2019 Baden-Württemberg Seminar

November 12, 2019
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Focused on professionals who are new to AACRAO and/or higher education, "Building the Blueprint" addresses members' first impressions, expectations, hopes, and misconceptions as they navigate the field of higher education and explore the association.  If you or someone you know would like to contribute, please contact the Connect editor.

by Shannice L. Berry, Director of Enrollment Management,  Richland Community College

If I can put into words my experience as a participant in the BW seminar, it would be AMAZING! It may sound a little exaggerated, but I honestly cannot find another word to describe this immersive adventure.

Before departure, each participant received an agenda that included a list of all the educational institutions we would visit while in the region. It was pretty intensive. At that time, I had no clue what to expect. Eager to arrive in Baden-Wuerttemberg, I learned a few words of German, like hello, goodbye, thank you, and toilet. You know, the usual.  

As a person who travels frequently, I can honestly say that the city of Konstanz is one of the most beautiful places that I have had an opportunity to visit. It is located in the southern region of Germany and rests on Lake Constance and the border of Switzerland.

The first day of the seminar with my fellow participants set the stage for what I knew would be a great week with great professionals.

In this article, I will highlight some of the key things that made this experience one for the yearbooks.

Most Memorable Moment 

On the third day of the seminar, our first stop as to Ellenrieder-Gymnasium Konstanz. Upon arrival at the Gynamsium, which is comparable to U.S. high school, the students were lively and moving freely throughout the school. After meeting with the school administration, we had the opportunity to sit in on a U.S. History. Unbeknownst to me we would soon have an active part in the lesson.

As we sat in the back of the classroom and listened to the teacher give the introduction to the topic, she began to pass out a worksheet to the students, including the seminar participants.

Although we were suddenly assigned unexpected work, it was FUN! The participants partnered with students to discuss our respective national monuments and holidays that are important to us. As an educator, this conversation was refreshing and rewarding. The youth were engaged, opinionated, and communicated their personal thoughts and opinions so eloquently. In a short period, we were able to learn some personal things about the students and their nation, and vice versa. 

Unforgettable moments like this throughout the seminar resounded with all of us.  

Most Likely to Inform Practice  

During our time in Konstanz, we visited a total of nine educational institutions. My favorite by far was the Bildungsakademie Singen. This institution has a focus on vocational training and reminded me so much of the community college I work at.

Similar to community colleges across the United States, Bildungsakademie Singen offers training programs such as Engineering Technology, Cosmetology, and Automotive Technology, to name a few. I truly felt at home visiting this institution. I loved seeing the students work on projects to apply the knowledge that they learned in the classroom.

One of the things that stuck out the most was the strengths of cooperative partnerships with local corporations and businesses; all of the students who enroll at the school have practical work experience. Throughout their time enrolled students alternate on a three-month cycle between the classroom and practical experience. This model of cooperative work experience is one that could inform practice at community colleges in the U.S. and assist students in gaining essential skills and work experience before completion. 

Most Thankful Reflection

I must say, AACRAO and NAFSA could not have chosen a better group of professionals to experience the seminar together.  The participants came from all over the United States. Each individual’s personality, work experience, and lived experiences added collective value to the dialogue and discussion that took place throughout the seminar.

Furthermore, our host Tina and her assistant Anna were the epitome of hospitality. They gave us additional insight into German culture and ensured that we all had an extraordinary experience. 

Words of advice for the BW Class of 2020

Embrace everything that is Baden-Wuerttemberg! Keep your ears, eyes, and mind open -- and do not forget your umbrella!

 
Auf Wiedersehen!