Bridges across cultures



The history of German schools abroad started in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, in 1575. Almost 450 years have passed after the first institution dedicated to teaching the German language and culture was funded. In that time, the German educational system has been perfected, and the Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen (ZfA) or Central Agency for German Schools Abroad was created. It supports German schools around the world. The Federal Republic of Germany finances around 140 German schools abroad, more than 25 IB schools and around 1100 schools that offer the German Language Diploma (DSD, German as a second language abroad). This funding includes economic support, educational counselling and appointment of German teachers who contribute to higher educational standards.

They are the Auslandsdienstlehrkräfte (ADLK) or foreign service teachers, “German public employees who have received a license by the federated state in which they work, so that they can teach in a German school abroad”, as explained by the ZfA website.

 Deutsche Schule Medellín currently has two ADLK employees. Anke Käding, Head of the school, and Mitja Lüderwaldt, new Director of the Oberstufe section and the Bilingual International Baccalaureate -GIB-.

In order to request a job as a teacher for the foreign diplomatic services Commission, among other things, you must be a German school services employee who has passed the exams required by the professional trajectory law.

“We represent educational policies and German culture”, explains Käding. “Our presence is one of the elements that turn German schools into bridges, a connection point between cultures”, adds the Head.

Teaching abroad is an attractive opportunity for teachers. “For me, working abroad had always been a dream. Even though it takes you out of your comfort zone because you leave everything behind, it is the opportunity to create new relationships and to get to know different cultures”, expresses Lüderwaldt, who studied History and Politics at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. Actually, life in a different cultural context adds another enriching aspect to day-to-day pedagogical work. “We bring our methodologies, but we are sure that during our time in Colombia, we will learn new elements that will help us improve academic and educational practices in Germany”, expresses Käding.

“It is a very different experience from being a tourist. Teaching abroad means being in contact with the culture, meeting the students and interacting with them, and facing new realities”, adds the GIB/Oberstufe Director.

Before traveling, the ZfA provides training related to working with different cultures abroad and their tasks. They also try to generate alliances that can be beneficial for students. So, they seek alliances with German universities and other institutions that allow them to open new paths for the different members of the Educational Community.

At the end, “we want to set an example for our students: we want them to learn from us, we want to give them something important for their lives, and that they understand that they can travel abroad to study, work and learn from other cultures”, concludes Käding.