Looking Back: The POWERst Summer School
Under the premise to provide first-generation students from all partner universities with the opportunity to exchange with like-minded people, as well as mutually empower each other and thus contribute to building a Europe-wide network of and for first-generation students, the first POWERst Summer School took place from September 5 - 9th, 2022 on the Stadtmitte campus of the University of Stuttgart.
After the POWERst project team and the speaker of the Prorector for Diversity and International Affairs officially welcomed the participants from the cities of Amsterdam, Bordeaux and Stuttgart, the first afternoon was used to become familiar with one another and to create a trusting atmosphere between all participants and lecturers.
On the following day, following the motto 'Raising Awareness', Elie Demerseman of YES Forum drew the attention of the students to various financial obstacles, especially with regard to the educational mobility of first-generation students, while also presenting various solution strategies and perspectives. Subsequently, the representatives of Arbeiterkind.de, with the help of their "privilege check", demonstrated the unfavorable starting conditions of first-generation students in contrast to students from academic households while at the same time highlighting the heterogeneity and individuality of the starting conditions being present even within the group of first-generation students.
Building on these insights, social justice trainer and poverty class researcher at the University of Hildesheim, Tanja Abou, familiarized the students with the topic of classism, a form of discrimination based on social background, at the beginning of the third day. In the afternoon, lecturers from the Professional School of Education Stuttgart-Ludwigsburg provided in-depth insights into the problems of intersectionality and the imposter syndrome.
Following the extensive informative input of the previous days, the participants were given the space to reflect on their own experiences with creative methods and to share their experiences, shortly before the end of the week. This paved the way for mutual empowerment and allowed the derivation of possible support offers on the part of the universities on the final day.
From the perspective of the students, who almost unanimously described their participation as a "great opportunity" and "enriching experience", as well as from the perspective of the facilitators and the project, the POWERst Summer School was a complete success. Accordingly, the POWERst project team is looking forward to inviting students from all partner universities to the POWERst Spring School again in spring 2023.