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Starter’s Gun for the Fourth Round: Diesterweg Scholarship in Darmstadt Supports Families during Academic Transitions

On September 14, 2019, the starter’s gun will sound for the fourth round of the Diesterweg scholarship (DWS) in Darmstadt, Germany. This Saturday, 17 new scholarship families will be welcomed during the opening celebration, and their two-year educational journey will officially begin. This is the first of a total of twelve “Family (Satur)days” on which scholarship children, parents, and siblings will come together to manage academic transitions, become more familiar with educational and learning opportunities in Darmstadt, and increase their enjoyment of learning in community.

“We are very pleased that the Diesterweg scholarship in Darmstadt has been implemented so successfully in previous years, and that we are now starting the fourth cycle,” said Dr. Ulrike Landzettel, the responsible project coordinator, reflecting on a total of six years of the program in the research town of Darmstadt. During this period, almost 250 individuals from 50 families participated in the educational program. The scholarship is managed by the Diakonisches Werk Darmstadt-Dieburg and continues to be financially supported by the Dotter Foundation and the Software AG Foundation, including in its fourth round. The concept for the program, which is being carried out in ten locations in Germany, was developed by the Polytechnic Foundation of Frankfurt am Main.

On the second Saturday in September, 82 additional Darmstadt residents from various city neighborhoods will join the “Diesterweg family.” The participants come from countries including Afghanistan, Brazil, Cameroon, Eritrea, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Mozambique, Nigeria, Poland, and Turkey. The central meeting point will be the Muckerhaus in Darmstadt-Arheiligen; this is not only the location of the project coordination office, connected to community work in Arheiligen, but also the location of various workshops for managing challenges, navigating educational structures, and developing media competence, language skills, and learning methods as well as appreciating music, art, and literature. During joint excursions to various learning locations, such as the Hessian State Museum, the Bioversum, the city library, or the climbing forest, the families will also become more familiar with the diverse educational opportunities of their city. This round of the program ends in Summer 2021.

The focus, says Dr. Landzettel, is on transitions. “With the scholarship, the family days, excursions, educational allowance, and advice on subjects related to school and education, we do more than support the elementary students in their transition to secondary school. We support the entire family on its individual educational path.” This holds true for older and younger siblings, as well, who might be preparing to enter elementary school or aiming to start a training or degree program; and it applies for the parents, as well. The DWS team is available for advice and assistance – for example, in searching for language courses or continuing education opportunities.

“Just as education depends on the family, the DWS also depends on its strong partners in the region,” emphasizes Dr. Landzettel. This includes not only financial supporters, but also local libraries, museums, research institutes, and sports clubs as well as the Darmstadt partner schools (the Astrid Lindgren School in Arheilgen, the Wilhelm Hauff School in Eberstadt, the Heinrich Heine School in Bessungen, and the Heinrich-Hoffmann School in downtown Darmstadt). “But above all,” says the project coordinator, “our work also depends on the volunteers who make a deciding contribution to the success of the family days by enthusiastically leading workshops and excursions or by providing childcare in the Muckerhaus. For the fifth round, which will begin after the summer holidays in 2021, we are also looking for new supporters who can financially strengthen the program.”

Here you can find more information on the Diesterweg scholarship in Darmstadt.