“We attract, promote and support talented young people who care about the future of our democracy. We bring these people together and thus create personalities who take on social responsibility. ”This is how the“ START ”foundation formulates the goal of its program, with which it has been supporting students with a migration background on their educational path for 18 years.
“Exactly the right thing for me,” thought Lidia-Jessica Wronna, EF level student at Wittekind-Gymnasium. When she was made aware of the program by her class teacher Carmen Büschenfeld, she did not hesitate to apply.
When applying online, she answered questions about herself and her family situation, wrote a comprehensive letter of motivation, successfully passed a test on logical thinking and comprehension, and collected letters of recommendation that supported her qualification for the program. Finding reasons for Lidia’s suitability was not difficult: In addition to excellent school grades, Lidia shows great commitment in the care project of the Wittekind-Gymnasium, in which she takes part in international conferences on social issues – in English.
Outside of school, too, Lidia uses her excellent knowledge of English: she explains to newly arriving refugees the numerous official documents that come their way at first. Sometimes Lidia also uses Tigrinya, the language of her mother, who came to Germany from Eritrea as a young adult. Lidia’s father was born in Poland, but Lidia does not speak his native language actively. She only listens when relatives are talking in Polish.
Lidia’s application was successful: she was invited to a selection interview and convinced there too. As one of 500 young people, she was accepted into the Start Foundation as a scholarship holder this school year.
Of course, she is very happy about the financial support that she has received every month since then. The “education money” of 1000 euros per year can be used by the scholarship holders for anything that promotes their education: This can be the contribution to the music school, travel expenses, language courses and of course school materials and books. At the beginning of the scholarship, everyone also receives a notebook. The foundation supports the selected young people for three years.
Lidia wants to save her education money: As soon as the situation allows, she wants to realize her dream and take a trip to England or maybe even to America. A school trip to London made her curious and would like to spend time in English-speaking countries to deepen her language skills and to visit sights and cultural highlights.
But the financial support is not the most important thing for Lidia: “To be accepted into the start program means a lot to me. I am very happy to have the opportunity to get to know many new people and to exchange ideas with them, to experience and learn a lot of new things. ”Lidia offers this opportunity through the comprehensive seminar program, which is the core of the foundation’s funding forms. With the aim of bringing particularly talented young people together, Start offers a varied program: There are one-day events, weekend seminars or multi-day events during the school holidays. Thematically, the offer ranges from socio-political questions to historical topics to art and culture. Every scholarship holder must attend a seminar at least twice a year.
Unfortunately, the welcome ceremony for this year’s scholarship holders, which was planned in the presence of ministers in the state parliament, could not be held due to the current restrictions. Lidia was able to attend a seminar lasting several days in Hattingen: It was about xenophobia and human rights from a historical perspective and today. Although the days were long and firmly planned with work units, Lidia enjoyed this seminar very much: She particularly enjoyed the personal exchange with other scholarship holders, which unfortunately was not as intensive at another seminar that was held via video conference. Therefore, Lidia very much hopes that it will soon be possible again to attend further seminars on exciting topics in person.
Further information on the Start Foundation is available at https://www.start-stiftung.de.