Ipshita Banerji, New Delhi, India
Name: Ipshita Banerji
Lives in: New Delhi, India
Period in Germany: June to October 2000 and in April 2008
Educational institution: International Institute of Journalism (IIJ) in Berlin
Job: Content specialist at Accenture
The International Institute of Journalism (IIJ) of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH invited me for a three-month scholarship in Electronic Journalism in 2000. My stay in Germany was a life-changing experience. The IIJ and its director, Peter Prüfert, not only expanded my journalistic capacities, but also introduced me to Germany, the people and the culture. During the course, I visited many newspaper and media offices, government institutions and even a printing establishment.
‘I made many new friends in Germany who greatly enriched my experience’
For me, the 'field trips' into the German culture were particularly interesting. During the 15-day trip across Germany, I visited Hannover, Hamburg, Goslar, Göttingen, Frankfurt and Darmstadt. Every city was carefully chosen to introduce the programme participants to an aspect of this highly developed culture. With a cheap weekend ticket, I went to Regensburg with my colleagues from Vietnam. That was a wonderful trip. On the way back, we spent a little time in Munich. Dresden was another stop. It was astonishing for me to see how the city has been rebuilt after having been destroyed in the war. In Berlin, I attended a number of events, including a Night of the Museums, pre-Olympics at the Olympic Stadium, a music festival and even a Berliner Philharmoniker concert. The trip to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was very moving experience for me. I used my time in Germany intensively. My favourite haunts were along the street “Unter den Linden”. Berlin’s matchless museums not only gave me crash course in history, but also left a deep impression on how much Germans cared about knowledge and culture. Another thing I must mention: beer! I acquired a taste for the real thing, and its many varieties.
'I am very happy that I was in Germany'
My second trip to Berlin for a journalism course at the IIJ was much shorter but eventful. I arrived in April 2008 and was there for about one week. My luggage was lost at the airport and I had nothing but what was in my in-flight luggage. The friends that I had made eight years ago came to my rescue. One friend came to the hotel at 11:00 p.m. with a suitcase full of things that I might need. So what started out as an extremely unpleasant experience became an adventure thanks to my friends. Berlin itself greeted me like an old friend. It seemed familiar, warm and welcoming, and more exciting than ever before. After my stay in Germany, I also went to New York in 2008, where the IIJ had organized a workshop at Columbia University.
'They say that travel is important for maturity – this is true of my trip to Germany'
The courses in Germany were of special significance for my career. Because of them, I grappled with new technologies, high standards and ethical issues. Best practices for journalism that I learned in Germany have become part of my daily life. I gained a new feel for quality. My stay helped me to write more competently and authentically about Germany and the Germans.
At a personal level, Germany expanded my horizons because I received deep insight into the European culture and life there. I built important contacts to InWent and IIJ Alumni and am still in touch with about a dozen other Germany alumni.