Gauss-Telegraph: 17 international people in Braunschweig – Alexandra
by Lena Heinecke
- Hi Alexandra, please introduce yourself: Where are you from? What and where did you study? What are your hobbies?
Hey Lena, I’m from Lübeck and I completed my B. Sc. and M. A. in Business Administration at the TH Lübeck, my Bachelor with a specialization in International Management and Business. In my free time I like to do sports, currently mainly fitness and yoga. I also enjoy travelling, learning about other cultures and studying languages.
- What is your relation to interculturality? Why are you interested in other cultures and is there a specific time or event when the interest started?
In fact, I wanted to do a high school year in the USA while I was in school. But I never did and I thought to myself, then I’ll go abroad during my studies. In order to improve my English, I wanted to participate in a buddy program and by chance I took part in the China Buddy program. Through my buddies I learned a lot about China and the Chinese culture and I wanted to experience everything by myself. So I successfully applied for a scholarship program of Zhejiang Province and then studied in Hangzhou for one year. Afterwards I completed a project in Shanghai through a scholarship program of the TH Lübeck. In my Master’s degree, I really wanted to experience a whole new culture again. So I decided to spend a semester abroad in Jordan. I feel that it is very exciting to discover other countries and cultures on my own and to learn about their history, politics etc. from locals. Of course it also teaches me more about myself and my life. It has also given me an increased awareness of the “given luxury” in which we live in Germany and of the privileges we were born into, that we should be very grateful for. I think travelling and living together with people from other cultures contributes a lot to further education and personal development.
- You are now working for the Gauss House project. Why did you decide to apply here?
During my master’s studies I conducted two researches on the culture shock experiences of Generation Y. I was able to present the results at the EURAM Conference 2019 in Lisbon. There I had the opportunity to discuss a lot with PhD students and professors on the topics of Expatriate Management and Cultures and Management and found the whole research environment very interesting. Thereupon I looked for a job as a research assistant. With the background of my interest in cultures, the position at the TU Braunschweig with the Gauss-Haus project was a great fit.
- What was your first impression of the Gauss-Haus?
The Gauss-Haus reminded me very much of an organization in Jordan called Shams Community. Once a week, people from different cultures come together to discuss specific topics and eat vegan food. The values are comparable, only it is more about discussing certain topics than about presenting different countries/cultures. However, in both places you can learn a lot about other countries, cultures and mentalities through communication, as well as strengthen your awareness of your own culture and mentality. It is great that there are such cosmopolitan places all over the world, where diversity means the chance to listen, exchange, change perspectives, reflect and learn.
- How would you describe someone who has never heard of the Gauss house?
In short: as a place for integration and internationalization where everyone is welcomed.
- What are your personal Gauss highlights? What is your favourite event or activity in the Gauss-Haus? What do you wish for the future?
One of my highlights so far was the Christmas workshop. For some guests at Gauss-Haus, this workshop, Santa Gauss, Chinese New Year, Diwali etc. are interesting events. For others, however, who are far away from their families on these days and would rather be at home, those festivals are of really high emotional significance. It is very affecting to think about this when joining those events. Another highlight so far was the Morocco evening. It was not “only” a presentation about the country, but a real cultural experience with traditional music, art, clothing etc. It was also very affecting to see how all Gauss Friends of Arab origin blossomed in their music and dance and motivated everyone else to celebrate their culture. For our Arab friends, I think it created a feeling of being at home; for all other guests it was a pure cultural experience. It was an ideal cultural evening. For the future country evenings, I hope that we will be able to create such experiences more often.
- What do you think constitutes the Gauss-Haus?
Respect, tolerance and openness towards everyone, through which people – however diverse in all respects they may be – can come together in a familiar atmosphere.
- If you could travel anywhere in the world for free, which place would you want to see?
I would make a trip through as many countries of the Arab world and of East/Southeast Asia as possible – but I would always stay a few weeks in each country to get to know the respective culture.
- What is your tip for someone who is interested in other cultures but has little contact with people from other cultures?
Seek contact with people from other cultures. Only when you interact with locals and people tell you about their lives and experiences and share their traditions or even home with you, you can learn to understand their culture.