Students meet Society
Integration trough volunteering and participation at university location
Since 1st March 2016, the Freiwilligen-Agentur Halle-Saalkreis e.V. and the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg are together carrying out the pilot project "Students meet Society - Förderung der Integration von Studierenden mit Migrationshintergrund und von internationalen Studierenden durch die Verknüpfung von Engagement und Lernen am Hochschulstandort". The project is funded by the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Federal office for migration and refugees) in Nürnberg by means of the Bundesinnenministerium (Interior Ministry) in Berlin, for three years.
Target group: Students with migration background and international students
In volunteering, students with a migration background and international students should be offered a better chance for social participation and integration during their studies, also to improve their academic success and to awake or strengthen their wish to stay in Germany. The findings of the study "Engagiert gewinnt – Bessere Berufschancen für internationale Studierende durch Praxiserfahrungen" (engaged wins- better professional opportunities for international students through practical experiences) from the Sachverständigenrat deutscher Stiftungen 2016 shows that through volunteering as a complement to their studies, new networks were build, social and cultural connections to the university location were getting stronger, new friends were found and it allowed a deeper insight in language and culture. At the same time volunteering grants insight to the German society, economy and culture and creates accesses to the working world and living environment.
The pilot project aims at overcoming with the traditional “care paradigm” in dealing with international students in society and universities. The students were seen as participants with own experiences and competences, who as engaged students are socially involved. Therefore the engagement-related needs and interests of and students with migration background and international students were first empirically collected in order to develop individually suitable commitment opportunities.
Target group: non-profit organisations
The second target group are non-profit organisations with their specific intercultural self-understanding and treatment practices. The volunteering of students with a migration background and international students offers non-profit organisations as well professional support as the opportunity to open themselves and their service offers for increasingly diverse user- or client-groups. An important prerequisite for the intercultural opening-up of non-profit organisations is that they are open to the engagement of students with a migration background and international students and develop their organizational structures, ideas and practices accordingly.Therefore, an organisation-specific needs analysis, education and training as well as consultations in the process of organisational development are important project components.
Of particular importance within the project is that all sides (university members, students and nonprofit organisations) develop ideas about how the potential and cultural experiences of international students and students with migration background can unfold profitably in different areas of engagement. The experiences of the pilot project should also provide impulses for other universities and new collaborations between universities and civil society.
In the context of the conference "Students meet Society - Integration und Teilhabe durch Engagement (Integration and Participation through Engagement)" on 1st November 2016, the project was presented to the public for the first time and discussed with important cooperation partners. You can find a conference report here.