New exchange programme opens frontiers between Pretoria and Germany

Posted on November 13, 2015

The Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria (UP) and the University of Tübingen has established an exchange programme, with the first student from Germany, Lydia Schwörer, coming to Pretoria from February to June 2016, while UP student Camille Castelyn will be going to Tübingen from April to July 2016.

The exchange programme arose from an agreement between the Faculty of Theology at UP and the Evangelische Stift at the University of Tübingen, in conjunction with the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.

According to Mr Siyaphiwa Maphanga, the Theology student representative who served on the selection committee, the selection process was intense and included motivational essays, interviews, emotional and leadership assessments, and strict academic requirements.

Camille Castelyn describes the selection process and interview as a great learning experience.

‘As a fourth-year Theology student I am eager to gain experience. I was especially impressed by the way in which the interviews were conducted. The first question we were asked was not a theological question, but a completely random question. All of us were dumbfounded for the first few seconds. I thought it was absolutely brilliant because it allowed the committee to quickly get a feel of how each one of us is able to communicate our ideas in a group and also to test our ability to think critically.’

The exchange programme will focus on learning in a disparate paradigm and on any research that can be conducted in the impressive libraries at the student's disposal. Camille will be doing her master’s degree next year, possibly on the dialogue between theology and the natural sciences or on how churches can encourage and support the development of sustainable communities specifically through community gardening.

‘I want to prepare thoroughly for this trip, both academically and mentally, especially since some of the greatest scholars of Theology – such as Ratzinger, Hegel and Bonhoeffer – studied at this university. I started learning German two days after I was awarded the bursary; however, I feel that once you have learned the ancient languages of Hebrew and Greek there is nothing that is impossible! I want to make sure that I am well acquainted with the culture of the people of Tübingen so as to show my utmost respect and really get to know people,’ she says. 

She adds that she is looking forward to coming back and sharing her experiences with others: ‘My journey in UP’s Faculty of Theology has most certainly prepared me for this opportunity. Since my first year I was exposed to the multicultural realities of South Africa and also encouraged to engage with different worldviews and social constructs. I am going to give my best to be an outstanding representative for the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria in our beautiful country, South Africa.’


- Author Petronel Fourie

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