On 25th–27th August, Voronezh state University hosted the Forum of the VSU graduates from Germany – the members of the German Alumni Association of Voronezh State University (Association Deutscher Absolventender Woronesher Universität – DAWU). The Rector of Voronezh State University Dmitry Endovitsky and the University’s honored guests – the Director of the International Department of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation Nikolay Toivonen, the member of DAWU, head of chemical/industrial technology park K.-Dieter Heintze, deputy head of the mission of the DAAD in Moscow Dr. Martin Krispin, acting head of the territorial representative office of MFA of Russia in Voronezh Sergey Laptev, the deans, and the alumni of the University took part in the plenary session of the Forum.
– “Today VSU is holding a long-awaited event. This is the first fruit, an effective experience of the German Alumni Association of Voronezh State University, which we will extend to our UK, Chinese and USA graduates. The German line of the University’s international activities is strong enough. The former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Germany in Russia Ulrich Brandenburg is an Honorary Doctor of VSU, and he has repeatedly visited the University. In addition, Voronezh is a base for the German T-Systems company, which has opened the centre for corporate training at VSU, as well as for Atos IT Solutions and Services. The corporate centre of the company at the University in its time served as a strong argument in favor of the decision to construct the Siemens Transformers plant in the Voronezh region. Recently, at the Faculty of Applied Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics we have opened a department of ERP Systems and Management of Business Processes, headed by Vice-rector for strategic planning and quality control of the Westphalian Wilhelm University, Honorary Doctor of the VSU Jörg Becker. The University is an outpost of Germany in Central Russia: we actively promote the culture and language of this country”, – noted Dmitry Endovitsky in his welcoming speech.
– “Russian-German relations are the relations of culture, art, education, science, and business. Despite the difficult geopolitical conditions, Germany is our main partner in the field of technology, science and education; in particular, we have the same challenges associated with the commercialization of intellectual property. Experience in the creation of the German Alumni Association of Voronezh State University is unique. Thanks to it, the University receives ample opportunities for cooperation. Voronezh State University may serve as a site stimulating consistent Russian-German partnership”, − said the Director of the International Department of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation Nikolay Toivonen.
− “For more than 30 years, since young students from Germany arrived in Voronezh, the city itself has changed a lot, and so have we, but each of us still feels a connection to their Alma Mater. Today, many of us are for the first time since graduation in the town of our youth. For more than 15 years, the members of DAWU have been liaising with the VSU, but the meetings were mostly held on German soil. However, some of us have spent a lot of time in Voronezh, teaching at our University, making economic ties, and expanding relations with Germany and with Europe. I think each of us would agree that their professional accomplishments can mainly be attributed to the Voronezh State University. The fact that today's event is attended by a large delegation from Germany, speaks of the extraordinary gravity of the VSU. Using our knowledge, experience, and useful professional contacts we want to give positive impulses for the development of our Alma Mater”, − said K.-Dieter Heinze and he went on to warmly thank the organizers of the Forum. He also presented a cheque from the Forum members for the VSU Endowment Fund.
After the words of welcome by the honorable guests of the University a round table on "Cultural Bridge Russia-Germany: the Prospects for Dialogue" was held. There were speeches devoted to the culture-generating role of the University, the pages of cultural history of Russia and Germany, the new prospects for collaborative research between the countries, international student exchange programmes, and the traditional cooperation of the German philologists and the VSU linguists.
After the official part of the plenary session, the VSU folk music group Terem welcomed the attendees. The programme for the three-day Forum also included meetings with lecturers and fellow students at the faculties, as well as an extensive cultural programme.
After the plenary session of the Forum, we were able to talk with the representatives of the German graduates’ delegation of the VSU:
The Deputy Head of the Mission of the DAAD in Moscow Martin Crispin:
– “VSU is a University with rich experience and traditions. The German academic exchange service DAAD has been actively cooperating with the University for several years. It is significant that VSU actively uses the opportunities offered by our organization. We are very pleased that the German universities are actively cooperating with you. For example, the interaction with the University of Halle can be attributed to our old traditions of cooperation. In addition, I have learned that the University has signed new partnership agreements with Goettingen and some other universities. The first impression from visiting the University is very positive. The arrival of the German delegation suggests that collaboration is important for both our countries. Science knows no boundaries; it is great that the University itself has taken the initiative to cooperate with its German partners. Such meetings help not only maintain friendly links, but this is also something of a return home. What would I like to wish the current students of the VSU? Do not be afraid to participate in the programmes of international cooperation – it will be a new chapter of your life. I myself 18 years ago, jumped at the chance to come from Germany to Russia, studied in Moscow, and up to this day, I am connected to your country.”
Director of the International Department of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation Nikolay Toivonen:
- “I have heard about VSU a lot more than one is able to understand in a single visit. Since the 90-s VSU has been known as a leading international centre of the Russian system of higher education, functioning as a base for the Centre of International Cooperation. The University carries out large-scale exchanges with a number of foreign countries, has its international agenda, and conducts active collaboration with European and South-Eastern countries. It would be interesting to see if VSU can act as a kind of innovative platform for the development of the models of international cooperation. It would be important and interesting to replicate the experience in other universities in Central Russia. The universities in Central Russia are equidistant from all foreign states, unlike the universities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and universities, located along the boundaries, which have their cross-border contacts. From this point of view, it is crucial to search for new approaches and mechanisms to internationalize the activities of the universities of the central part of the country. Moreover, it is important not just for the sake of internationalization, but primarily for the academic and research benefit of our students. Education, research, and innovation know no boundaries. Our goal is to ensure exchange of information, knowledge, and skills. Moreover, we should not forget that not only do we educate "global citizens", but also prepare professionals with clear life principles, true patriots of their country. The fact that at the University there is the German Alumni Association of Voronezh State University (DAWU) seems to me very pleasant and honourable. The Association members are "ambassadors" of the University in Germany; they can draw potential students to VSU, and help enlarge contracts of the VSU researchers with German corporations, as well as to foster cultural exchange between the two countries. On the other hand, globalization is gaining steam, and for our country, at this stage, it is very important to analyze and learn from the already existing positive model of cooperation. Such model as DAWU is completely new and appealing for me. I would like to understand for myself what specific results are expected from this work. It is important that the alumni who have come here have expressed their desire to work with Voronezh and Russia. In the future, it would be good to think through the mechanisms of mutually beneficial partnership that would be of interest to them and, in addition, could meet our goals. It is crucial that the initiative to create such an interaction comes from people of different professional backgrounds. It is an indicator of good relations between Russia and Germany.”