Experiences of Germans in South Africa


Experiences of Germans in South Africa

Sarahn Künne, Language Assistant at University of Witwatersrand

10 months full of beautiful memories, 10 months without regrets, 10 months with plenty of pap, meat & chakalaka (even as a vegetarien...) and 10 months with the most wonderful friends. Thank you Jozi! I will miss all of you more than you even know. We'll see each other again. But for now, back to Glühwein!!

The tasks and duties as a language assistant are full of pleasure and fun. I enjoy going to work every day because I not only teach, but also learn a lot from the contact with students and colleagues.

I enjoy the independence of my work as a language assistant and yet still feel as part of the team in the department. Everyone is very welcoming and helpful. On average I teach about 7 hours per week, two conversation classes, one culture class and one literature class. Most of my students are in their first year, but I also teach second and third year students. Thus, I am in touch with all the students at the German Department. The manifold topics of the courses might be a challenge now and again, but they also offer the opportunity to develop different topics with the students. However, I never feel alone. The two professors at the department as well as the DAAD-lecturer are always open to my questions and work closely with me.

Since the DAAD Information Centre for South Africa is also located at Wits University, I was able to look into the DAAD work “in the field” and to be part of events, fairs and conferences.

This year, Wits University was ranked the best university in South Africa. Thus, it is a privilege to work at this university. Not only is it a true pleasure to teach the German language and culture, I also gain from what the students teach me about the diversity of South Africa, with their various social and cultural backgrounds.    

As you can see from this report, I enjoyed every moment of my stay as a language assistant in Johannesburg. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

Johannesburg is certainly not the city you fall in love with at first sight, but when you dare to engage with the city and its challenges, you will be rewarded in so many ways. Jozi people treat you with curiosity and invite you to see their own view of the city. That’s what made this experience so enriching and unique. This interaction presents a framework for a modern South Africa that tells an incredible story and that is still on the way to a new identity. There is so much to learn from a society that peacefully ended apartheid and that is aiming for a peaceful integration of all the people. At the same time, there is so much to be grasped, to be challenged, to be changed until social justice, personal freedom and security are part of everyday life. I can only encourage people not to be repelled by Jozi’s bad reputation, but to look behind the prejudices, and to use the opportunities this language assistance position presents, to engage with students from South Africa, to learn from them, and to develop new ideas for a common future.

The DAAD Language Assistant Program is a teaching scholarship for 9-10 months. The program aims to enhance the professional teaching skills. Scholarship holders give classes in German language, culture and literature. At the moment, the program is conducted in 80 countries with various universities. The call normally comes out in September.