Working together internationally - how does that actually feel? Different time zones, different languages, different habits, what role does that play and how do we deal with it? The DAAD project Virtual Exchange+ addresses these questions and promotes transatlantic teamwork. After two semesters of virtual exchange and the trip to Detroit, the return visit of an American delegation was now on the agenda.
The DAAD project "Virtual Exchange+" offers professors and students the opportunity to exchange ideas on an international level and to work together on a project basis. Harz University of Applied Sciences took advantage of this opportunity and put together an exchange programme between German students and American students from Wayne State University. The goal was to facilitate a joint dialogue, promote teamwork and develop intercultural skills. Students from all faculties at Harz University of Applied Sciences were involved, which underscores the project's interdisciplinary nature.
The teaching sessions consisted of specialist input, teamwork, and interactions via the chat function. The mix of methods used was intended to strengthen togetherness and arouse interest in each other. In one of the courses, the participants were asked what they associate with Europe. In mixed working groups, the students dealt with the values, culture, and identity of the European Union and deepened their understanding based on the countries Hungary, Estonia, France, and Germany. The lecture series ended with a final presentation and a feedback session.
In the winter semester of 2021/2022, the in-person exchange took place. From Nov. 15, 2021, to Nov. 20, 2021, 24 students from Harz University visited Wayne State University in Detroit. During their stay, the students got to know the campus, explored the "Motor City" of Detroit, and visited the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History as well as the Detroit Institute of the Arts. The Virtual Exchange+ Conference focused on lectures by guest lecturers, group work, and interactions with Wayne State students. A special highlight of the exchange programme was attending a Wayne State University Men's Basketball Game.
The exchange programme has shown how international cooperation works and how it can be integrated into students' university life. Nico Portz, a student in the third semester of Technology and Innovation Management, also confirms these experiences. "I benefited most from the newly gained cultural experiences. Being able to get to know the impressive history of the city of Detroit in more detail, especially its economic and social development, was very instructive."
For the students of Harz University of Applied Sciences, the DAAD project offered the chance to get in touch with other students, make friends, and exchange ideas about political topics. Foreign language skills could be expanded and insights into another culture could be gained. Many also used the exchange programme as preparation for a study or internship abroad. In order to establish the partnership in the longer term, work continues on joint projects.
The visit of 8 professors from Iowa State University and 6 professors from Wayne State University to Harz University of Applied Sciences from 18 to 20 May 2022 represented a first step in deepening the relationship.