Hessen International Summer University in Times of Covid-19


Despite rather unconventional circumstances, the International Summer University, or Hessen: VASP, has successfully come to an end once again...

..Although online, students still had the opportunity of experiencing a well-rounded summer programme with a variety of different courses and events. 

Seminars in both English and German, such as intercultural competence, culture, business, German language courses along with conversation rounds, and intercultural training were offered in this year’s summer university. In each class, there was an opportunity for group work and in-class discussion, so in spite of the situation-dependent online adaptation, an in-person class atmosphere was still present.
Topics such as the aspects and depths of culture were thematized in the intercultural competence seminar, and students learned about post-war Germany in the German culture class. The last strongly featured group work activities in which students discussed impressions and thoughts in smaller rounds as well.

If one was looking to further develop their language skills after a German course and put the newly learned skills into practice, they could participate in the conversation rounds. There, everyone contributed with their own ideas for conversation topics, which always resulted in an engaging discussion, no matter the age or background.  

However, the pandemic did not prevent a first-hand insight into the German culture and a chance for the students to socialize outside of class. The usual tour to the memorial Point Alpha was replaced by an insightful virtual tour through the location, including a presentation about the history of Point Alpha with pictures and videos from the original exhibition.

Additionally, various dishes from all parts of the world were introduced and could be seen being made in many kitchens at home during the international dinner. The many different backgrounds of the students and interculturality of the ISU were especially evident here and the event offered an opportunity for bonding and sharing one’s culture in a more casual get together.   

All in all, the feedback from all participants was exceedingly positive and what was arguably valued most apart from the classes was the fact that students could actively network and intercultural exchange was promoted.