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MADM: Experiences during an Internship at the BMZ

From February to May the MADM students of the Bochum group went as interns to various organisations working in the field of development cooperation. MADM student Franziska Lammers gives an account of her time at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation.

During the first two months of my internship with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, I spent almost as much time on the regional transport system as I did in the office. At least, that's what commuting from Bochum to Bonn every day felt like. Two hours fifteen minutes each way, four and a half hours total each day. In retrospect, the decision to commute cannot be considered one of my brightest ideas. On the other hand, however, I travelled through space and time on a daily basis: Boarding the train at 5:55am every morning at Bochum Hbf, I was surrounded by the last night's leftovers and blue collar workers on the way to an early shift. Leaving the train in Bonn Hbf could not have presented a more different picture: Stern looking bureaucrats, carrying brief cases and coffee-to-go-mugs on their way to the nearest office building.
Bonn, having been the capital of Germany from 1949 and hosting its government until 1994, has had its fair share of bureaucratic history. As most federal bodies were transferred to the newly reunited Berlin following the Berlin/Bonn-Law, many speculated about Bonn's doomed descent into meaninglessness. Nowadays, Bonn has become and has consolidated its status as Germany's center for international politics, hosting 18 agencies of the United Nations, numerous international organizations, as well as the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), among other ministries.

Tasks of an Intern at the Division "Education and the Digital World"

At this ministry, or more specifically, in its division "Education and the Digital World", I completed my internship from February to April this year. After commuting for the first two months, I eventually opted to move. The decision to move to Bonn for the last few weeks of my internship came at exactly the right time: Down from the four interns who started in the division to only one, my work load and working hours increased rapidly; but as I really enjoyed my work, this was something I was not too upset about. My first two months had been interesting: I had learned much about the machinery that was running development cooperation in Germany. I attended various meetings and got to know the constraints and opportunities that are associated with planning a project or steering a programme. However, during this time, the number of concrete tasks had been limited and I spent much of my time reading background papers or about current events.

Getting to Know Various Fields of Expertise

Generally, I gained insight into many different fields of expertise within the division: vocational training (more specifically the G7 Initiative on Economic Empowerment of Women), information and communications technologies, the new education strategy of the BMZ, and most of all Sports for Development. A matter of heart to the minister, the topic gained a foothold in the ministry and was eventually assigned to the education division. Despite being embedded there, sports are conceptualized as a general instrument at the BMZ to serve furthering developmental goals. Thus, they can and are used in a variety of projects: HIV/AIDS prevention in Namibia, ... conflict resolution in Colombia, and many others. The initiative "More space for sports – 1000 chances for Africa" is currently under way and seeks to construct or renew sports facilities, equip them, train trainers, as well as support existing projects that use sport as a means for development. In addition to many interesting meetings, I was invited to attend the High Level Dinner, which concluded this year's Youth Leadership Camp in Berlin. 30 motivated, young participants from developing countries had attended two weeks of camp to learn more about sport pedagogy, training, and possibilities to use sport as an instrument for development in their communities back home. During the dinner, they (and I) got to spend an inspiring evening with many high-ranking actors in the field, including Willi Lemke, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Sports for Development and Peace, and former manager of the German soccer team SV Werder Bremen. Nevertheless, most inspiring of all were the participants themselves, who filled the evening with stories of their experiences and of how sports had changed their world and had done good for their communities.
Apart from the "typical" intern work, such as the daily post round, I worked on many different papers, did research, organized meetings, and analyzed the daily press reviews. On top of that, the intern representatives organized excursions to various developmental and international organizations. Therefore, I also gained insight into the workings of DVV International, the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval), the German Development Institute (DIE), the Welthungerhilfe, and the Deutsche Welle.

Organising the Launch of the "Education for All" Global Monitoring Report 2015

My biggest project during this internship was organizing the German launch of the "Education for All" Global Monitoring Report 2015. 15 years ago, 164 states had agreed on the Dakar Framework for Action "Education for All" (EFA) and pledged to complete a very ambitious agenda, including, inter alia, free, universal, primary education for every child until 2015. To monitor the progress, the EFA Global Monitoring Report was set up and has been published annually since 2002. Apart from the "official" international launch, it has become a custom to launch the report in many different countries as a discussion event with various stakeholders from the field of education.
Education for all
Picture taken during the event (photo: Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission)

Together with the German Commission for UNESCO, and the GIZ's sector programme on Education, I organized and supervised the event that took place on the ministry's premises. I was specifically responsible for internal organization, participant management and support, and the event's follow-up.

An Attractive Place to Work

Contrary to what I had expected (or feared) I leave the ministry now, having grown fond of the idea of working there in the future. The conceptual and steering work done by the ministry, the room for maneuver when it comes to new topics, and the various opportunities to work both within Germany and abroad make this area of development cooperation very attractive to me.
BMZ Interns at carnivalLooking back at my internship, I have encountered many moments I will not forget too easily. I will always remember my third day, where I met the Federal Minister for Development, Gerd Müller, at the ministry's carnival party wearing a wig made out of green glitter. After that, nothing could surprise me...

Interns at the ministry's carnival party (photo:private)

Franziska Lammers
Franziska Lammers

MADM Student in Bochum
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Institute of Development Research and Development
Ruhr University Bochum
Room 2.04
Universitaetsstr. 105
D-44789 Bochum
E-Mail: ieeoffice@rub.de
Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-22418