Bremerhaven – To some students it may seem like a dream, but for Lars Seichla it is a reality: he lives rent-free in a shared flat for two in the student residence in Bremerhaven.
This is a new modern building in a central location with fast internet and a communal garden. In turn, the student took care of the fifth- to seventh-grade students at the nearby school in Ernst-Reuter-Platz for 20 hours a month for two good years—as a teaching fellow.
Free customization of working hours
To get his master’s degree, he moved from Hanover to Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences when the Corona pandemic started. So the job as an educator came at just the right time. “I soon made many contacts through the school, which made my start here easier,” he says. “The students have given me a great reception. They are always happy when I come.”
The secondary school and student residence are located in the district of Lehe, where many disadvantaged children live: it is not only the most populous district of the Seestadt, but in the district of Goethestraße almost every third working person is unemployed. The percentage of children from educationally disadvantaged families is high.
Important support for students
Principal Nicole Wind says school is an especially important place for her. “We’re trying to break the Hartz IV series a bit here and give students a perspective on the world of work.”
Projects outside of the classroom, such as a trailer project, bike workshop, or blacksmith shop, are of great interest. “Through these actions, children can discover their talents,” Wind says. The educators guide the children on craft projects and help out during the lessons.
But they are also there to have fun with them: ride bikes, play basketball, go to the zoo, walk on the dam, and listen. “Kids are rarely out on their streets,” says Wind. Students are like older brothers or sisters. “They are an educational role model,” asserts the Director. Many kids between the ages of 10 and 13 they were familiar with did not previously know what a university actually was.
Relief social workers
Education companion Omar Abdel-Aal in the 5 meters once a week. Sitting in the classroom during class. If someone needs help, he comes to his place and explains the tasks. If someone gets anxious, they go and take care of him. “I immediately felt at home in class, I was so well received,” says the 23-year-old, who has been working at the school for two months.
Of course, in addition to teachers, there are also school social workers for children. “But they are busy with other things, and they have to constantly deal with acute crises,” Wind says. Young students can also find a completely different, non-disciple-related approach.
“We are having fun with him,” 11-year-old Amina Brisa says of education companion Omar. “It makes us laugh.” “You could say they’re friends,” 12-year-old Elif says of the students. 13-year-old Tyler enjoys the trailer project so much that he can fantasize about it after working as a carpenter.
The comprehensive school in Duisburg is a pioneer
Principal Wind copied the Education Companions idea from the Exchange Education for Housing association, which has been using sponsors at Herbert Grillo Comprehensive School in Duisburg-Marxloh since 2014. Their president, Thomas Zander, spoke about it at a training event. Our students need people who care about them and are there to help them. That’s what educators do,” Zander emphasizes.
His colleague in Bremerhaven was immediately excited by the idea, and soon managed to convince everyone involved in Bremerhaven: whether it was the Municipal Housing Association, which was planning to set up new student housing in Lehi, or Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences or the Foundation, which takes on the entire financial part.
For Sychla, his time as a tutor will soon be ending with his master’s degree. He started with little experience with children, but in the meantime came to appreciate working with them. “Just when you see that you bring joy to others, that’s great.” He is considering whether he should stay in Bremerhaven after his master’s degree and continue to volunteer at the school, as a reading assistant for example. “You give a lot, but you also get a lot of children,” he says.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220627-99-816059 / 2