Issa Diabaté, Bamako, Mali
Name: Issa Diabaté
Lives in: Bamako, Mali
Period in Germany: August to September 2010 (Düsseldorf) and May to October 2011 (Bayreuth)
Educational and research institutions: Institute for International Communication, Düsseldorf; University of Bayreuth
I’ve actually had two DAAD bursaries to study in Germany. The first time, in August and September 2010, I did a summer course at the Institute for International Communication in Düsseldorf. I took advantage of being there to visit other German cities, too – Cologne and Bonn. Then in 2011, I was at the University of Bayreuth for six months, doing research for my Master’s thesis. I can’t stress enough the impact my time in Germany has had on me: it’s given my self-confidence a huge boost.
Since February 2013, I’ve been a volunteer with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, working on implementing its alumni programmes in Mali. The programmes are headed by the Alumniportal Deutschland coordinator for West and Central Africa, Bourahima Zongo, who is based in Accra. Part of my job is to run alumni evenings and to publish reports on them on the portal.
‘I think German libraries are fantastic’
As someone who believes education is really important, I think it’s essential that we document what we know. Mali has virtually no good libraries. Being able to spend time in Germany made it possible for me to write a really good Master’s thesis and to read books from other areas of African Studies.
I was also really impressed by the relationship between students and their lecturers. In Germany, academics are available if their students need help; they always take the time to discuss any problems a student is having. Academics in Mali rarely have time for that.
‘There are huge cultural differences between Germany and my country’
In Germany, you’re free; men and women have the same rights. It’s different in Mali, although there are bodies that are campaigning for women’s rights. Many men in Mali think they are better than women, but lots of German women have careers.
My country also has a lot of work to do in ensuring that more girls to go to school. I’d like to set up a foundation to improve the situation of poor children and orphans, because I know that life isn’t easy and we need to help each other.
‘Globalisation has made the world like one enormous house’
Because I’m always open, I tried to use my time in Germany to make as many useful contacts as possible, not just for myself but also for other people. I think globalisation has made the world like one enormous house, in which we’re all connected. Making contacts is one of DAAD’s goals, too. If I get opportunities, I have to take them. And I’ve managed to build contacts with fellow students and make new friendships.
Issa Diabaté on the Alumniportal Deutschland
I want to use the Alumniportal to share experience and knowledge with other alumni. I’d like it if we could ask each other questions and help to bring down barriers. I wish the alumni and the Alumniportal Deutschland coordinators every success with their excellent and inspiring work.
I’m a member of many different alumni groups in the Community and I sometimes post there, for example my posting on ‘Destruction of monuments as destruction of the collective memory (in German only)’ in the ‘SOS Kulturerbe Mali’ (SOS Malian cultural heritage) group.