(This text is a contribution by participants of the 56th course of the Postgraduate Training Course.)
We, the 56th course of the Postgraduate Training Programme, have been at DIE since 1 September 2020 and would like to thank the staff for the warm welcome. Even if every course probably likes to claim this, we are a rather special year. A physical course during a pandemic was – as we have heard – discussed, questioned and criticized beforehand. Nevertheless, we are very happy to be here and to finally have personal contacts again, after months of working in front of screens and hours of online interaction. We would therefore like to thank everyone who made this special course possible. Our thanks also goes to the speakers who accompany us in the plenary phase – whether on site or online – and the leaders of the research teams who face at least as much uncertainty as we do. After almost three weeks now, we can say that the learning curve of the course is very steep and that we have already received many valuable insights into development cooperation. We are very excited to see what awaits us in the upcoming months.
Of course, we imagined this training course differently. Above all, the stay abroad, which usually forms part of the course and in which we wanted to do intensive field research, seems almost impossible at the moment. That is of course sad. The pandemic also significantly limits the opportunities to do social activities together as a course. In addition, it makes contact with the DIE staff and also with the alumni more difficult, since events such as the traditional course party are unfortunately not possible. However, we also see the situation as an opportunity – as an opportunity to face challenges together as a course. Knowing how privileged we are to be able to learn together in this challenging time has allowed us to grow together and form a unique bond in just three weeks. In addition, we were able to take a trip to the Ahrtal on the first weekend of September in compliance with the applicable regulations. On site, Rita Klüwer offered us an exciting guided tour through the Roman villa. Afterwards we took a small hike and enjoyed lunch together. Great thanks to her and Regine Mehl for the organization.
We have already formed various working groups within the course, so that we can still make the most of our nine months at DIE, both content-wise as well as in our free time. Therefore, we are grateful for any tips on corona-compliant events and other activities. In the past few months, we have all seen that 2020 (and most likely at least 2021 as well) will come along with many changes. However, these changes do not necessarily need to be negative. This time can also be seen as a turning point, as a moment to reorient ourselves, to question certain concepts, to rethink assumptions and to allow new impulses. And meanwhile, we will become experts in digital communication.
We look forward to our time at DIE and hope that an intensive exchange between the participants of the postgraduate course and DIE staff will take place, despite less presence at the Institute and distance regulations.