by Sohila Ahmed
Last month I had the opportunity to participate in a truly inspiring and uplifting networking event, specifically designed for international students. The International Students in Germany Summit (ISGS) was held in the bustling city of Berlin from the 16th to the 18th of July 2023, where I got to meet other international students from all over Germany, all of us sharing the same struggles, regardless of our diverse backgrounds. Throughout the three-day event, I got to hear personal accounts from international professionals, was moved by their challenges, and was in awe of their success. Furthermore, I participated in multiple workshops designed to enhance the lives of international students in Germany.
I personally had not heard of either DEGIS or the ISG Summit before this event, but spoilers I was pleasantly surprised! In this post, I would like to share with you a little more detail about what went on at the summit.
I was super excited to see what the German Association for International Students (DEGIS) had planned for us at the ISG. We were advised to store our bags at the venue, so we can all leave to our respective hostels at the end of the day. I guess it’s not too late to mention that accommodation was included in the ticket price for those not living in Berlin. After enjoying a cup of coffee and getting to know some of the other students, it was time to meet our humble and unique host of the event, Liam Carpenter.
At 14.00, we had our first keynote speaker Mikalai Vincheuski, who gave us a brief insight into his journey and the forthcoming opportunities for international students.
Afterward, all 100 of us were divided into groups for a workshop about “The International Student Dream Journey”, where we had to decide what we believe is the optimum scenario for an international student coming to Germany.
At around 16.30 we had our second guest speaker, entrepreneur Ana Alvarez, who shared with us personal stories about the challenges she overcame coming here and gave us some pointers to help us overcome some of our challenges; the highlight was that I got to know about the community and the various opportunities offered by Migrapreneur.
After an exhausting first day, we got our room keys and started heading to our hostels; tired but looking forward to the next day.
After Liam introduced the agenda of the day, the team from DEGIS also prepared a small yet very interesting fair, where representatives from different organizations targeting internationals were present and ready to educate us about the various opportunities they offer. I personally wish there had been more companies, but maybe there will be in the coming years when the summit is even bigger!
After lunch, we enjoyed listening to our guest speaker, Jonathan Becker, and at 14.30 we started the next phase of our workshop from day 1. During the workshop, as a team, we had to come up with a solution to help make the “student dream journey” a reality. However, the challenge was that after coming up with the solution, we had to find a way to present it as a team on the 3rd day of the summit, while competing against all other teams. It was even harder to let go of a heated brainstorming session to join the rest of the delegates for our last keynote speaker of the day, Ximena Docarmo, who spoke about her journey into politics and how international students interested in politics can follow a similar path.
At the end of a long day, I couldn’t wait to explore Berlin with whom I can proudly call my new friends, thanks to the ISG Summit.
The atmosphere was a bit tense on the 3rd and last day of the event. Everyone was rushing to finish their presentations, adding the final touches here and there, and in my case, discovering that the presentation couldn’t be downloaded a few minutes before the submission deadline. Fortunately, the DEGIS team was sweet enough to let one of our team members use her personal laptop for the presentation.
Furthermore, we had our last keynote speaker for the event, Thamires Herzing, a business development and founding member at Match Talent, who was also one of the judges of the workshop’s final presentation. After lunch, the winning team was announced, and so concluded the ISG Summit 2023.
The ISG summit was simply incredible. The energy, the people, and Berlin, of course, everything came together to create this vibrant atmosphere full of love, motivation, and support over a 3 day weekend that I will always remember fondly. I got to meet people I probably never would have been so lucky to meet otherwise (in lesser words, Liam), and made new friendships that felt more like meeting old friends after a long time.
In the end, I would like to thank the very welcoming community of DEGIS and can only say the ISG Summit is well worth it for any international student who might feel like they don’t belong or is feeling overwhelmed with life in Germany and in need of a glimmer of hope to keep going.
Sohila Ahmed is from Egypt. In Germany, she received her Master’s degree in International Management, Marketing & Entrepreneurship from Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg.