On Friday, 11 November 2022, AgrarKontakte International (AKI) e.V. held a meeting with the first participants of the traineeship programme with the University of Hohenheim. In a small circle in Stuttgart-Plieningen, three international students got together with the AKI team to reflect on their recent traineeships on family farms in southern Germany.
After an official welcome, the trainees received their graduation certificates. Afterwards, they all had the opportunity to share their impressions of the traineeship weeks with the AKI staff over coffee and tea, and beside all, how this experience has helped them to understand Swabian better.
This is how the three international trainees summarize their experiences during the traineeship:
Sarah Anne Tallon from New Zealand:“Being a ‘part of the family’ was very special. I felt immediately welcomed and privileged to have such an enjoyable first-hand experience of the German family culture. The biggest difference to back home was definitely the food! […] I learnt a great deal from talking to the farmer about his extensive experience and knowledge in apple and wine production. For example, I learnt about the complicated decision-making required for correct and timely application of fertilizers and plant protection agents, the high stakes of a poorly timed application, and how despite all your careful planning, everything can be upset by the weather. I earned a whole new appreciation for the hard work done by farmers to produce high quality food, and a valuable insight into the many pressures farmers currently face – from climate change to ever increasing bureaucratic regulations. My German skills were also deepened and extended. […] Above all, the on-the-ground insight into the many problems facing agriculture and the innovative ways in which farmers seek to solve them. This is very relevant to my degree, and I feel like I now have a more nuanced and educated perspective on many contemporary issues facing agriculture today. In addition, the practical experience was just what I needed to complement the theory I learn in class, and will no doubt be an advantage for my future career.”
Amaka Mary Ibeh from Nigeria:“I thank AKI for this great opportunity to be a part of this traineeship. Living with the farmer was an opportunity to practice my German language, eat some nice traditional German cuisine, and attend family meetings with the host. I was made to feel like I am a part of the family. I learnt a lot of things concerning dairy farming, ranging from milking, feed preparation, maintenance of farm buildings (fencing and assisting in constructing a new stall), allocating birth numbers to calves, housing preparation for winter, silage preparation, also maintenance of farm machinery. Asking the farmers questions concerning agricultural policies to confirm the knowledge from the classroom, I saw how the farm took animal welfare seriously. […] Moving forward I feel more confident in myself concerning farm management, how German farms operate, policies that have been implemented and how I can modify these policies to fit those of my country. […]”
MichaeI Ademilola from Nigeria:“[…] I learned about German culture, that is, the language, events, foods, and most importantly, the codes of manners. Beyond the culture, I learned about precision agriculture, and I was privileged to operate some of this machinery. For the first time, I worked with an automated milking machine and was actively involved in the dairy farm's routine management. Even though some of these events required physical skills, the experience and the chance to keep learning made up for the tedious parts. Overall, it was an experience that will linger in my mind for a long time; the periods of events were worth it, the stress was worth it, and the exposure was top-notch. Thank you once again, AKI, for this wonderful opportunity.”