“Breaking free of old patterns of behaviour”

Bettina Frommann from Kiel, Germany, is a trained PE and French teacher. Outside of her job, she has been volunteering with the SES since 2019. In our interview, she reveals her expectations of young experts on the AGYO programme and of the assignments.

Bettina Frommann

Bettina Frommann, *1960 in Kiel, Germany. Lecturer at Kiel University’s Institute of Sports Science, author and university sport instructor, qualified secondary school teacher for PE and French, lives in Kiel, has already done two assignments for the SES in Tanzania (2019 and 2020).

Das Interview

Bettina, what’s your specialist field?

I studied to become a teacher for French and sport and went on to spend 14 years as a school teacher. I’ve spent the last 22 years working at Kiel University’s Institute of Sports Science where I’m responsible for swimming training on the bachelor programme.

Since 2019, you’ve also been volunteering with the SES. What has impressed you most during your assignments so far?

How open and warm-hearted people are to you. And the palpable sense of being really valued. Even though the people don’t always benefit directly from my assignment

What expectations would you have of an assignment in an African country working with a young expert from Germany?

Generally speaking, I expect young people to be inquisitive and open towards other cultures. If someone decides to do an assignment – not only in another country but on a completely different continent - they’ll find themself confronted with lots of things that are new and strange to start with. But I expect them to be open-minded and not judge nevertheless. Just to say, “This is different and unfamiliar but that doesn’t make it worse.” There has to be a willingness to accept that conditions are basic. And self-initiative is always an important aspect. From young people in particular, I would hope to see a creative approach to work-related questions. A different method, from which I could benefit too.

A young person from a different country and a different cultural group brings a completely fresh perspective to certain things and a breath of fresh air to my work.

What would be your expectations if you were to mentor a young expert from Africa as part of the AGYO exchange programme?

A lot of the expectations I just mentioned would apply to a young expert from Africa too. What I imagine is that someone from Africa would come for a work shadowing and accompany me in the swim centre. Of course, I would try to integrate that person. So they’d have to be inquisitive and open towards new things and other cultures. They’d have to be dedicated and willing to try new things. And, of course, they’d have to want to learn. They’d have to be able to judge what they could take back to their home country but also what wouldn’t be possible. But it’s also my job as an expert to help them. You have to work together and rethink established approaches.

Where would support from SES experts be necessary - both at and outside the workplace?

SES experts are their first port of call and should be open to everything that the young expert asks and wants to know. For example, contacts could be important. For the young expert, it would be great if their time on assignment wasn’t only related to work, if they had an opportunity to explore the town and the country – a cultural exchange, in other words.

What would you like to learn from the young experts from Germany and the African partner country?

To me, what’s important is rethinking how I do things. Breaking free of old patterns of behaviour and structures because I always feel that routines can be both positive and negative. A young person from a different country and a different cultural group brings a completely fresh perspective to certain things and a breath of fresh air to my work. That can definitely be enriching. I think that’s positive.