Like hundreds of other Aussies, Kiwis and Germans I once went on exchange with SAGSE. Mine was 1986 / 87. We had our winter camp in beautiful Monschau, travelled to Berlin along the ‘Transit-Strecken’ through East Germany and took photos of ourselves at the Berlin Wall, thinking it would be there forever. While we were there Pat Cash’s Australian team won the Davis Cup, beating Sweden at Kooyong.
A lot has happened in the world since then. A couple of years later I was astounded to wake up one morning to hear the Berlin Wall had collapsed. I was in Adelaide where there was no GASS / SAGSE presence, so while I maintained contact by letter with my wonderful host family in Regensburg and a few of my fellow Stipis, I had no real contact with SAGSE. My passion for all things German continued and I studied the language and culture, kept going back to Germany and became a German teacher.
Some SAGSE scholarship recipients go on to use German very directly, whilst for others the benefit is less direct but nonetheless very real. From Victoria alone around 600 young people have enjoyed this adventure since Fritz von Einem Joosten founded the Society and the first students went in 1968. Nowadays we obviously have more sophisticated means of communication and in 2009 the SAGSE Victoria committee decided to harness this technology in an effort to create a community of returned scholars / alumni who could contribute something back to the cause.
In early 2010 the alumni mailing list was created and with much googling and searching on facebook and linkedin the number of names on this list has gradually increased. The most pleasing aspect, however, is that via these electronic mailouts we have generated enough money through alumni donations to fund an additional scholarship every year. In 2010 it was a pleasure to send Grace Dwyer off to Germany, then Molly Fuller in 2011, Amber Bock in 2012 and Brock Cowburn in 2013. Fittingly, Brock’s scholarship was presented by Michael Little, member of the very first ‘Jahrgang’ of Australian SAGSE students in 1968.
Now for the next stage. With the cooperation of the Australian German Association Inc. (AGA) we aim to locate more of the missing names on our lists and create a more active and dynamic community with strong links into the German / Australian business world. We want to stay in touch with our old scholars of all generations from 1968 to the present and encourage more to contribute in whatever way they can to the continued success of SAGSE.
Das NETZwerk connects SAGSE and AGA members to build relationships and promote personal growth through shared experiences.
Das NETZwerk aims to:
Das NETZwerk opens opportunities for past-scholarship winners to connect with the AGA-Goethe Fellowship program and will also provide the opportunity for mentoring. It will effectively be the platform for an active Alumni network where members share experiences, build individual connections and promote personal growth. The journey from a GASSie to an AGA and SAGSE member is effectively another step in maturing along the way.