Diversity in Israel and Germany: German-Israeli Young Researchers’ Exchange on Diversity
University of Haifa/University Hildesheim.
The project brings together 18 young Israeli and German scholars who are working on their PhD or MA-theses addressing different issues of diversity. During the two year project, the partner universities (Haifa/Hildesheim) host four research workshops in Germany and in Israel. The first two workshops are designed to focus on introducing the research topics and designs of all participants, establishing a common working structure/culture, building small work teams of 2-4 students each, and learning about the academic and public discourses on diversity in both countries. The workshops combine field experience, alongside visiting lectures, group learning meetings and methodological sessions. The following two workshops focus on diversity research in practice/progress in the Israeli-German work teams. Students are asked to build learning tandems, accompany each other into fieldwork and present their findings. Through exposure to the field (e.g. observations in religion-based kindergartens, evaluations of multilingual school programs, ethnographic explorations of gender issues in the classroom or interviews with minority teachers) the students gain first hand access to the respective educational, social and political contexts diversity issues are situated in.
In reflecting on the production of knowledge about diversity in a comparative perspective, the young researchers are invited to acquire a better understanding of the differences but also of the similarities in both countries. During the project, and within the specific framework of the workshops, the students gain experience in presenting their works in an international comparative framework, in meeting colleagues who engage with similar issues from different perspectives, in building research co-operations, and in learning in an enriching, vibrant, and diverse German-Israeli scholarly atmosphere.
Students share their experience:
My name is Martha Shtapura-Ifrah and I am a graduate student at the Educational Counseling program of Haifa University. I had chosen to write my thesis on the topic of Cross-Cultural Differences in the Attitudes, Knowledge and Actual Help-Seeking Behavior of Mothers. When I had first heard about the “German – Israeli Young Researchers Exchange Group on Diversity” project from my thesis adviser, I was intrigued by the possibility of meeting aspiring scholars that are as interested in the topic of diversity as I.
Participation in the project so far has not only met but had also exceeded my expectations: the sessions in Germany and in Israel have had a substantial impact both on my research and on my understanding of diversity related issues.
The project has served as a valuable platform for scholarly advice, peer support and opportunities for critical thinking. The team of researchers and supervisors itself was highly diverse in terms of cultural and academic backgrounds- a fact which contributed for rich and lively discussions during and after formal meetings.
I look forward to the future encounters with my fellow researchers- encounters that challenge pre-conceptions, introduce us to new ideas and contribute to our personal and professional development.
Sandra Blanghaps is a Masters student at Haifa University who has finished her coursework and is busy writing her thesis. She was recently promoted to a new position in the field of education as a head of the educational department at the local council in Kfar Kama. There she is tasked with reviewing existing policy programmes and deciding which new programmes to develop at schools in her district.
She heard about the German Israeli Young Researchers Exchange Group on Diversity from her MA supervisor and was immediately excited at the opportunity to broaden her perspectives and learn about German culture. Prior to her participation in the group, she had not visited Germany or Europe for that matter and her experiences there have thoroughly expanded her understanding of diversity in different cultures. In fact, she was surprised at how culturally and socially varied the group is and how diverse the interests and experiences of the participants are. Simply learning from one another has been an enriching experience that goes beyond merely the classroom or theory. They learn and grow together through their shared educational projects and experiences in one another’s home country. In this sense, she is able to view Israel from a new perspective, as from the outside. This experience and the support that the group gives each other is invaluable and truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for her.