Mirko Haupt has just concluded a six-week internship at the Epicenter Africa in Nairobi. His internship was made possible through the ASA Program which allows Germans to participate in apprenticeships abroad as part of cultural exchange and learning. The German Chamber of Commerce managers the apprenticeship programs in Germany and supports the ASA program by facilitating the exchange and learning abroad through interpersonal experience. Mirko’s employer, Stadtwerke Neuwied, supports the program and continued to pay Mirko’s salary, required vaccination and medical examinations.
Highlights of Mirko’s Apprenticeship
- ASA Program participants will gain knowledge through new perspectives and learn about global market structure
- Two 14-day seminars are part of the preparation making sure participants become familiar with the countries culture, economy, as well as manners and customs
- Projects in the field of trade, electrics, metal-work, air-conditioning technology and water are promoted
- In Nairobi, colleagues and their families gave Mirko a warm welcome. He was quickly integrated in the work team and seen as a full member
- There were no differences in the technical standard compared to Germany
But one major difference is the educational system:
- Apprentices in Kenya complete two years of theoretical training before starting the practical part of their education
- Apprentices in Germany have from the beginning on a greater focus in the practical fieldMirko emphasizes that colleagues were highly qualified hoping to eradicate misconceptions among Germans
- Working in the field varies from Germany
- Systems used are the same (e.g. solar panels)
- However, the mode of operation differs as it is more hands on due the lack of cranes and risers
The experience abroad has mainly fostered Mirko’s intercultural learning as well as the understanding of global interrelations and consequences of historical events such as colonialism. Stefan Hirschbach (managing director of the “Stadtwerke Neuwied”) highlights the advantage of new ideas and stimuli through such an experience abroad.