Ousmane Somah, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Name: Ousmane Somah
Lives in: Burkina Faso
Period in Germany: April-September 2007 (Hamburg), 2010-2012 (Bielefeld, Cologne)
Educational institution: Bielefeld University
Job: German teacher
During my first stay in Germany in 2007 I was doing the research for my ‘Magister’ degree in Hamburg. My topic was ‘Genesis of ethnicity during the German and Belgian colonial period in Rwanda from 1885 to 1962’. From 2010 to 2012 I then did my master’s degree in German as a foreign language and German studies in Bielefeld.
‘My studies and my research in Germany have enabled me to expand my knowledge hugely’
At the moment I teach German in the Burkina Faso public services. In the future my master’s degree in German as a foreign language will also enable me to work for the Goethe-Institut or a language centre. I am also planning to do a doctorate, because that helps in teaching German even more effectively to the younger generations in Africa, and after gaining my doctorate I would like to be able to help my continent. Another large future project of mine is to set up my own interpreting and translation office. In addition to working as a German teacher I draw comic strips.
My studies and my research in Germany have enabled me to expand my knowledge hugely. The fact that the places where I have studied include German universities is also positive for my further career. However, it is difficult to exploit these advantages and realise them in my country. You’re seen as a show-off if you try to bring about something in your country using the skills you have acquired. This was my experience when I returned from my six-month stay in Hamburg. Therefore many alumni prefer to work where their work is valued.
Putting knowledge gained into practice can be very hard work. For example, it took three years for me to get our school here in the town to teach German in the lower classes – but I managed it! My stay in Germany has influenced not only my life, but also the way I teach German, and my whole personality.
‘The students can actively shape their education’
In my country there are many problems restricting the delivery of knowledge. On the one hand, we often lack the necessary rooms for the students, and on the other we need more teachers. Furthermore, the universities are known as places of protest. The Government sees them as a bastion of the opposition, and that also makes relations with the Government more difficult.
Unlike many of their African colleagues, the professors in Germany do not behave like demi-gods. I very much like their willingness to listen and also to consider the students’ opinions. This results in a mutual exchange of knowledge and the students can actively shape their education.
‘People who behave decently are also treated decently’
I also liked the fact that Germans are hospitable and peaceable. People who behave decently are also treated decently. But I don’t like the smoking culture in Germany at all. Even though it is very bad for your health, many women and men smoke, and also young people. I cannot understand the problem of xenophobia: why can’t people just accept others as they are?
Of course there are many differences between Burkina Faso and Germany. In Germany you can see on the street how people are totally unselfconscious. Couples kiss in public and you also see men pushing a baby buggy. People in Burkina Faso are more locked into the traditional roles and it is clear that the woman looks after the children and she has to let her husband know if she wants to do something in her free time.
Ousmane Somah on the Alumniportal Deutschland
I think it is important to maintain contacts with Germany when you have been there, because that can be useful in the future. You can also continue improving your language skills through regular contact with Germany. I am in contact with many alumni from my country via the Alumniportal and the Facebook page. I think the portal is a good way of bringing all the alumni together.
See Ousmane Somah’s profile in the Community