The Ghanaian-German Centre of Excellence for Development Studies is a collaborative venture between the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana and the Centre for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany. The Centre is being funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) under the Centres of Excellence for Teaching and Research to Train Future Leaders in Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative.
Every year, ZEF host first year PhD students at Bonn for a two months exchange programme. This year, seven first year PhD students visited Bonn for the annual summer programme from 30th May to 28th July 2016. The program began with a four-day Right Livelihood College (RLC) Workshop on sustainable organic agriculture. We had the opportunity to interact with other PhD students from all over the globe and presented their proposals for inputs. After the RLC workshop, we had the opportunity to participate in the Global Media Forum, organized by Deutsche Welle in Bonn.
As part of the summer programme, several trainings and workshops were held on endnote, SPSS and ATLAS.ti software to strengthen the analytical skills of participant. To facilitate the appreciation of Germany culture and history, a weeklong trip was organized to Berlin where we interacted with the Ghana Embassy and the Federal Ministry for Economic Coopration BMZ. Visits were also organized to the Bundestag (German Parliament) to observe parliamentary proceedings and to other historical and memorial sites in the city.
Dr. Wolfram Laube (the Coordinator at ZEF) and Dr. Charles Ackah (Coordinator at Ghana) facilitated a three-day workshop on proposal writing. This offered us the opportunity to present our research problems, research questions and methodologies for discussion. The discussions and inputs from the facilitators and colleagues helped in the shaping and proper focusing of our research topics, problems and questions.
The summer programme offered us a great opportunity to interact with people of different backgrounds and cultures especially within an international environment, met other students and senior researchers to make input into our work as well as share some idea. Experiencing Bonn has been excellent especially with the quiet and great work ethic.
What was a bit odd about this year’s summer school was the presumably ‘interesting’ summer weather. Rains fell in most of the days and most of the time, the weather was cold, which was unexpected. Interestingly, unlike Ghana where from 6:00pm, darkness begins to fall, we experienced a different weather pattern where even as at 8:00pm, the sun would still be shinning.
For most of us who were visiting Germany for the first time, we really enjoyed the German dishes even though our preference for the Chinese dishes was high. You can imagine living in a country you can hardly read, speak or understand their language but as time went by, we learnt to say some few words and having to pronounce a supposedly German word and even the native Germans cannot even make meaning of what you are saying was really fascinating. We can confidently say that this year’s summer school really broadened our understanding on issues we were taught as well as gave us the opportunity to use the extensive academic resources University of Bonn offers students for developing our proposals.
We express our deepest gratitude to DAAD for the sponsorship as well as all staff and faculty at ZEF, University of Bonn Germany, and ISSER, University of Ghana for their support.