AFS Germany: Interview with scholarship holder Franka Kiesewetter

Every year, AFS Intercultural Programs in cooperation with the Karlshochschulstiftung offers a full scholarship at the Karls for AFS returnees* to support young people who are committed to intercultural exchange and diversity. The AFS scholarship enables them to study programs in the fields of International Business, International Relations or Management. The Karlshochschule is very interested in supporting participants of AFS programs and offering them a course of study in which they can further deepen their intercultural skills. Franka Kiesewetter is one of the current scholarship holders. We asked her about her studies and the AFS. 

Franka Kiesewetter, AFS Germany scholarship holder

Karlshochschule Stipendiatin Franka Kiesewetter AFS Deutschland
Franka Kiesewetter studies International Relations (B.A.) at the Karls

Dear Franka, please do present yourself and give us some insights into your life!

Hi, my name is Franka Kiesewetter! I grew up in a suburb of Munich with my parents and my younger brother. I finished my high school education two years ago. Afterward, I went abroad for volunteer service with AFS Interkulturelle Begnungen e.V. to Ghana, where I worked for one year in a school and stayed with a Ghanaian host family. When I came back home, I worked voluntarily with the refugees in my hometown until I started my studies at Karls. Apart from that, I love dancing (Ballet, Standard, Latin dances and whatever else comes to my mind), reading, traveling, working for AFS and trying new things.

What inspired you to apply at Karls?

I didn’t quite know what I wanted to study when I came back from Ghana, but one day I found the scholarship of AFS for the Karls and started researching on it. When I visited the Website, I felt really like that is the right place for me, full of inspiration and of idealistic people. A university that doesn’t want to just stick to the rules, but question and change the rules. A university full of people from all over the world. So, I went there to see it for myself and – against my expectations – it felt just as great for me as it sounded on the Website. I really appreciate the small classes that give us the chance to be heard, to be more than just a number on a paper, I appreciate that it takes hours to leave the school because I will always bump into somebody who is up for a talk and I love the modules in and outside of classes that should teach us to think outside of the mainstream thoughts.

What study program did you choose and why?

I chose International Relations because I am interested in making a social and political change. I am interested in the powers and social, political, economic and cultural relations that drive us in our everyday life, in the structures that create differences between us and generate inequalities (be it individual like discrimination of individuals or global inequalities like between the Global South and the Global North). I really like that we learn a lot of different perspectives, most importantly about the constructivist approaches that are also related to the roles of marginalized groups like theories of Feminism, Postcolonialism etc. 

Please tell us about AFS and about your scholarship.

I’ve got my scholarship from AFS, a youth exchange organization. Their main focus is on intercultural exchange and intercultural learning on eye-level. AFS was founded on the idea of making the world more peaceful – since people who are friends, who know and understand each other, wouldn’t start a war with each other. But for me AFS is more than that, it is family, understanding and support. It is fully appreciating people for who they are.

How was the procedure of applying to Karls and for the scholarship? What, according to your appreciation, was crucial to be considered for the scholarship and for being accepted as a Karls student?

I wrote one motivation letter each for the school and the scholarship and submit them together with my CV, my Abitur certificate and some other papers. Then I was invited for the Scholarship Selection Day, which consisted of a personal interview with people from the Karls and somebody from InterCultur (the subsidiary of AFS who is responsible for the scholarships), a short group presentation, a role play, and a fishbowl discussion. I think what was crucial to be accepted was the ability to reflect, to question not only the system we are living in but most importantly ourselves.

How are your first impressions of Karlshochschule?  

I really do they like the atmosphere of the university and I appreciate the modules and especially the good job that the lecturers are making. The possibility to discuss and not only learn from the profs but also from each other is great. Although there are of course some students which are participating more actively and some who are rather shy, I feel like everybody gets a chance to state their opinion due to the presentations and group works, which is very important to me since I believe that everybody has something to say that is worth being heard. Many courses include sessions of discussions, brainstorming, presenting results of group works, role plays and in general a huge focus on teamwork. Of course, this cannot be implemented at the same level in each individual course, since some are just more theoretical while others are more practical, but in general every lecturer is making their lessons as interactive as possible, which is a great learning opportunity for all of us. One of the things I like best are the many extracurricular offers, being it fun activities like karaoke nights, the student initiatives like Karls for Future or inspiring public lectures on issues like racism.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now and what is your biggest vision?

I see myself working for some NGO that is working for the empowerment of marginalized groups. I want to shape the public discourse in a way that in my opinion is more open-minded, inclusive and reflective. Of course, I want to earn enough money for my living, and I want to be successful, but even more important to me is that I can live according to my values. Since I have learned (and will learn much more) about problems in our society and about discrimination, I believe that I have a responsibility to do something against it. Therefore, my biggest vision is to make people recognize the injustices that are going on in order to let all of us work together to reduce these injustices. Because if you ever recognize that, it is impossible to forget about it ever again.

Dear Franka, thank you very much for the interview. We wish you a great time with a lot of positive educational and transformational experiences during your studies at Karls!

About AFS Germany

The three letters AFS stand for the long history of the “American Field Service” – an organization that emerged as a voluntary medical service during the world wars. Within 70 years, AFS has become the world’s largest provider of exchange programs. Since its founding in 1948, the organization’s goal has remained the same: to give young people the opportunity to experience other cultures and promote tolerance. AFS has found a strong partner for this objective in Karlshochschule International University.

The AFS and the Karlshochschule jointly organize the Intercultural Summer Academy every year, where young people from all over the world learn together and work on content on the topics of intercultural management and communication. Karlshochschule is very interested in having AFS volunteers and alumni among our student body – we offer programs of study in which they can further deepen their intercultural skills and keep living the AFS spirit! 

Learn more about the school programs

The AFS Germany scholarship 

Any AFS returnee residing in Germany can apply for the full scholarship – deadline for 2020 is May 31st, 2020. You can apply be filling out the online application form at Karlshochschule. Please add an additional motivation letter for the scholarship and a reference by AFS. You are also welcome to apply if you have been abroad with another organization!

The AFS International scholarship 

Any AFS returnee from any country can apply for the full scholarship for a Bachelor program at Karlshochschule – the deadline is February 28th, 2020. You can apply by filling out the online application form at Karlshochschule. Please add an additional motivation letter for the scholarship and a reference by an AFS representation in your country. You are also welcome to apply if you have been abroad with another organization!

Learn more about the study programs at the Karlshochschule

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