Our Nepalese guest lecturer about his online teaching
It definitely has advantages for a guest lecturer to teach online, Udaya Raj Dhungana tells me via Zoom, "but I would have preferred to be in Darmstadt“. The 40-year-old is currently working on his doctorate in Computer Engineering, which he is also partly doing at h_da, and teaches at Pokhara University in Nepal. After having taught in Darmstadt last year, he wanted to travel to the Rhine-Main area again this August for the already firmly established course "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence". Then COVID-19 thwarted his plans. But he and his host at the Department of Computer Science, Prof. Dr. Bettina Harriehausen-Mühlbauer, showed great flexibility. The contents of the joint block course were digitalized and the distance Nepal - Germany between him and the students was bridged by means of online sessions.
This was his first virtual teaching assignment, according to Dhungana. The independence of time and place made it easier for the Nepalese, but the course required much more preparation time than expected. He, as well as the students, first had to get used to the format: "The students have to take the online courses seriously, too," he concludes. Next year, he would like to be back on site to apply his research project on word recognition in artificial intelligence to the German language. It is clear that cultural exchange is close to his heart: since the beginning of the partnership with h_da 2019, he has been supporting students and teachers at Pokhara University planning their stay in Darmstadt as part of the ERASMUS+ program for partner countries. When I ask him what he likes most about Germany, he answers promptly: "The tone of the German language!“ He is currently practicing it diligently by listening to German songs.
Dhungana's course was financed by the Welcome Center's English lectures program to support the Internationalization@home at h_da. Especially students who are not able to go abroad themselves (unfortunately there were many in 2020 due to Corona), the courses by international guest lecturers enable them to expand their cultural and content-related horizons also "from home".
Interview with our US-American guest lecturer Wendy Brooke
Wendy Brooke has already found her way to h_da twice. The first time was in 2014. Now the US-American, who has been teaching at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville for more than eleven years, has returned to the Faculty of Economics for a guest lecture on Supply Chain Management. Previously, she had also taught in Taiwan and China.
She has been committed to the internationalization of her home university for quite some time, because it is particularly important for students of economics to gain experience abroad, Brooke said in this interview. Through Prof. Dr. Matthias Neu she had learned about the opportunity to teach at h_da - and was immediately enthusiastic. So it was only a matter of time before she would return. This time, Prof. Dr. Monika Futschik, professor of logistics, asked her to teach in her department and finally invited her to come to Dieburg in the winter semester 2019/20.
The International Office financed the living and travel expenses for her stay through the QSL programme "International Guest Lectures", which aims to improve the range of English courses offered by the h_da and thus also to provide the possibility of gaining intercultural competences and insights into international specialist discourses to those who, for various reasons, cannot go abroad themselves.
Brooke is satisfied with her course, which according to her was attended by about 45 participants: "The students are great. At first they were a little apprehensive because I hold the course in English and I told them I'd speak slowly and use simple words (...) I think that helped! But their English skills were very, very good." She was surprised at how many of the students were confident in the foreign language and estimated that about 20% of the students might have already been abroad.
When asked what she likes about Darmstadt, Brooke (usually living in Florida) answers directly: "It's so easy to get around here, the people have been very friendly and helpful and open for my very limited knowledge of German. I like the outdoor cafés, just sitting outside, drinking a hot chocolate and watching the people passing by.“
For her, the geographical location of the city is particularly advantageous: "Darmstadt is so well located, you can easily travel from here. I bought a Flixticket for Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia and I don't know yet where else to go."
She hopes she can come back to h_da again in the future. "But next time in summer," she adds with a laugh.
Read more about the Internationalisation@home at h_da.