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From a Working Class Family to University

The Chemnitz’ local branch of the association ArbeiterKind.de accompanies prospective students from non-academic families on their way to university and clarifies financial issues

Why should I study? What should I study? How can I finance my university years? A prospective student needs to deal with all these questions. In most cases, parents are the first people to give advice on such matters. But what if your parents didn’t go to university and cannot give appropriate advice? This is starting point of the non-profit association ArbeiterKind.de – the association’s name describes children from working class families. Its goal is to increase the proportion of students with a non-academic background at universities and to accompany and support them on their way to a degree.

The association was founded in early 2008 with the Internet platform "ArbeiterKind.de" and operates nationwide. In the meantime, it is active in more than 80 locations in Germany and has more than 5,000 volunteer mentors. In Chemnitz, there has been a local group since October 2013 – it was started by the psychology students Lena Güngör, Anna-Marie Rudat and Dwayne Bush. Currently, about ten TU Chemnitz’ students form the core of the group. One of them is doctoral candidate Kevin Kinne. The 27-year-old has been active with ArbeiterKind.de Chemnitz for more than a year now and, among other things is responsible for public relations. "All core tasks are allocated to individual members in our group, but we have flat hierarchies. All mentors are equal and we jointly contribute to the success of our tasks and events. There is no fixed time commitment, since everything is running as a voluntary activity. Everyone contributes as much as he or she can. At the same time, we represent a wide spread of political views and are open to any individual opinion," says Kevin.

The students of the Chemnitz’ local branch of Arbeiterkind.de meet on a regular basis every month. Here current issues are discussed and upcoming events are planned in a relaxed atmosphere. One example is the so called “Initiativentag”, a day where students of the TU Chemnitz are invited to present their action groups and initiatives. The group of ArbeiterKind.de is organizing this event in 2016. It will take place as a contribution to the 180-year anniversary of the TU Chemnitz, parallel to the campus and sports festival on 3 May. More than 70 student associations and clubs will have the opportunity to present themselves with information stands and brief presentations in the main lecture hall building and to recruit new members. Everybody is invited to learn about the extensive range of associations, which cover many subject areas, and to get to know the colorful campus life more intensely. "Our main concern is to resolve the lack of information: on the one hand that of non-academic children concerned with all matters related to the subject of studying and planning higher education. And on the other hand that of all highschool and university students related to the possibility of financing studies," Kevin says and adds: "Therefore, we also organized an information session about scholarships, which took place in January 2016 for the second time – because studying is so much more pleasant (pleasanter) when you have no financial worries." During this event the team of ArbeiterKind.de informed interested students about scholarships and other sources of financial and moral support during their studies. At least one scholar of the eleven featured foundations represented their sponsor and answered questions. The members of ArbeiterKind.de Chemnitz decided to repeat this event in the future due to the positive response. Another event like this will take place probably at the end of the year.

More information on the work of the local branch of ArbeiterKind.de can be found on the website http://www.arbeiterkindchemnitz.jimdo.com and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Arbeiterkindde-Chemnitz-579782952080160.

(Author: Katharina Preuß, Translation: Katharina Thehos)

Katharina Thehos
25.02.2016

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