The International Working Group (Internationaler Arbeitskreis – IAK) offers political education in the form of tours and exchange programmes. Our work is divided into two different areas: tours abroad for people living in Germany and programmes in Germany for groups from other countries.
Our tours and programmes deal with topics like youth work, social participation, migration, the criticism of nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism and the social ideologies, conflicts and historical discourses connected to these phenomena. We focus on those institutions of civil society that deal with these issues, aim to change their society towards more personal liberty and equality and less discrimination and inequality and question their society as well as gender relations and gender norms.
Going Out Into The World
One of IAK’s core competences is to support individuals and groups who have been dealing with certain topics, countries or regions in organizing study tours. The members of IAK bring in their various experiences in order to achieve a high quality regarding the contents, organization and didactic concepts of the tours. That way we ensure that both the organizer(s) and the participants get the most out of the tours. Our tours clearly differ from classic educational trips: We meet activists from social movements and professional human rights activists, journalists or scholars. Our participants are required to actively contribute to the tour, which ensures an intensive work on the topics as a group. We organize our tours to other countries on a voluntary basis. The goals of our work are to research the topics of each tour, to challenge previous opinions we and our participants believed to be certain of before the tour and to shake up world views a bit. After a tour we often end up having more questions than before.
Instead of defining culture on an ethnic basis we look for diversity in life styles, values and interests of a society. “National culture”, tradition and folklore are objects of our critical analyses. Instead of marvelling at ostensibly traditional life styles or folkloristic performances we wonder about the underlying socio-economic relations, social conflicts, national discourses and power mechanisms.
The IAK As A Host
We use our long-time experience, our often close contacts to partner organisations all over the world and our good contacts in Germany for the second area of our work: programmes in Germany for groups from our partner countries. In this area the IAK functions as an NGO which organizes ambitious programmes with our partner organisations according to their needs. Most of these programmes focus on youth policy in Germany. Like our tours abroad, the programmes in Germany comprise talks with experts, seminar and training units, excursions and meetings, but most of these programmes are part of our and our guests’ work and not a vacation. The IAK project teams are put together in a way that optimally combines expertise in the programmes’ topics and regional expertise of the partner region.
On our tours to our partner countries, the participants aim to look behind the scenes. They do not expect fully organized study tours with a tour guide and a bus, instead they want to actively explore the issues that the people they meet deal with and understand their viewpoints and perspectives. Many of our participants are socially active or people who work with youth. About ten people participate in each tour. Preparing and follow-ups to the meetings and discussing the experiences within the group is an integral part of each tour because we are convinced that discussions with other people are a necessary part of learning processes. Before each tour we hold a preparatory seminar where the participants get to know each other and where the programme is being prepared together. After most tours the participants share their experiences by organizing public discussions, a slide show or something similar. Groups who are interested and ready to invest enough time create blogs or radio shows or write articles about our experiences and insights.
Our trips are interesting and fun, but they are no wellness holidays. Our programmes are actually pretty exhausting – there are often two meetings plus discussions among the group each day. According to their wishes the participants can choose to stay in the country for some more days after the programme has ended. And even if sightseeing is not a regular part of the programmes, we don’t exactly avoid it. There is always some time for the beach, a mountain trip, etc. Our programmes are recognized as educational leaves in many German states.
Our Regions And Core Competences
The IAK members are interested in various countries and regions. They are specialized in different topics, such as youth work, migration policy, conflict management, racism and anti-Semitism, to name just a few examples. The specific competence of the IAK as an organization is to support experts for a specific region in organizing high-quality political study tours. In recent years, the focus of our work has been on (post-Soviet Union) Central Asia, Latin America, Israel, Namibia, Indonesia, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. We are always open to working in countries that have not been part of our programmes so far.
Some of our programmes are financially supported by different institutions. The German Federal Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth funds some of our programmes for youth work professionals. Some programmes are co-financed by different foundations. Our programmes in Germany are organized in cooperation with or supported by partners like UNDP, OSCE, UNICEF, the Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute and other foundations and organizations. The Amadeu Antonio Foundation as well as other organisations provide us with seminar rooms. In the context of our programmes, we sometimes publish articles in the iz3w magazine where we contributed to the special issues on Central Asia and Namibia.
- Internationaler Arbeitskreis e.V.
- P.O. Box 30 23 43
- 10754 Berlin
- Phone (mobile): +49-172-6205851
- E-Mail: email@example.com