Students integrate students: at the 16 student houses of the Studentenwerk Hannover, ten student tutors from nine countries support their international fellow students in regard to integration. They assist with practical daily problems and by means of common events make sure that international and local students get to know each other better. A successful model which celebrates its 20th birthday this year.
In the late 1990s, more and more students from other countries decided to pursue studies in Germany. Thus, the interest in international students and their needs increased as well. A first study dealt with their motivations and wishes. One result was that there was a need for broader contacts with local students. As one of the first student services organisations in Germany, the Studentenwerk Hannover seized on this wish and developed the “Tutoring Programme for International Students at the Student Houses”.
"With our tutoring programme we have found a very convenient, vivid and personal solution for more cultural interaction. Many friendships have developed over the years, which continue to exist. We are very proud of this", declares Eberhard Hoffmann, executive manager of the Studentenwerk Hannover.
Almost 60 per cent of the students residing at the student houses come from abroad. And that is a colourful mixture: up to 100 different nationalities can be found at the student houses.
"Our tutors support the residents in many ways: they assist with questions in regard to study organisation, in regard to the topic of jobbing or vis-a-vis legal regulations for international students in general, they arrange contacts and provide guidance in regard to information centres. Furthermore, they accompany international students and translate for them, if a visit to the authorities becomes necessary", Linda Wilken, director of the department for Social and International Affairs of the Studentenwerk Hannover, explains. In order to make sure that the students preferably have a contact person with whom they can communicate in their mother tongue, the Studentenwerk takes great care to choose tutors from different countries. At the time being, the ten tutors come from nine nations. Two are from China, as most of the international students are Chinese by birth.
Apart from practical assistance for handling everyday life, the common events are a core element of the tutoring programme. These events bring international and local students together, as as well inside as outside the student houses, be it by parties at the community rooms, joint cultural or cooking evenings, by visits to concerts or movies or by sightseeing excursions throughout the region of Hanover: to meet and experience things together are central to the tutoring programme.