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Student Reports of Winter School 2018

Jenna Kleinwort, M.Sc. Economics of the Middle East (EMEA)

Foto: Privat

"The NAREM winter school program 2018 which addressed issues of “water scarcity and sustainable development” was a great opportunity to learn more about the fascinating country Iran and its culture and history. Daytime was spent with lectures and workshops on political economy as well as presentations of the teachers’ and students’ own research topics of interest. An interesting mixture of topics was presented. An Iranian documentary very well highlighted the imminence and implications of water scarcity and shows the mismanagement of water resources on both national and regional levels and is very recommendable (“Matricide“). The Iranian group was a bunch of very hospitable and motivated students, who organized to take us to some sights in Mashhad and surroundings and were always willing to chat or help out with some stuff. Overall, getting to know the amazing Iranian students was the best aspect of the program and they inspired me to learn some Farsi and for sure I will come back to Iran."

Simon Kuck, M.Sc. Economics of the Middle East (EMEA)

Foto: Ahmed Emamian


"I am really thankful that I got the opportunity to take part in the Mashhad Winter School 2018. Besides the academic inputs about economics, water management and scarcity issues we got during the program, we were able to explore Iran and to get to know the Iranian culture. Considering all the bad media press about Iran, many people have misconceptions about the country. I am really happy that I was able to gain first hand experience during the Winter School. We met wonderful people and the hospitality of the Iranian students and professors was simply amazing. Without the Winter School 2018, I would most likely never had the opportunity to visit Iran. Many thanks to all organisers and to the great people we met during our stay - you made the trip unforgettable!"

Saliha Engler, M.A. Political Science

Foto: Ahmed Emamian

"Taking part of this year’s NAREM's Winter School dealing with "Water and Sustainable Development“ for the first time in Mashhad, offered an interdisciplinary approach to tackle the issues of water management and water crisis. Mashhad is not only Iran’s second most populous city and home to some of its most sacred sites, but also plays a key role when it comes to water systems. Therefore, I found it interesting to host the Winter School in a different setting, apart from the capital of Tehran. Most important to me was the interaction with students from Iran and to discuss the issues of the Winter School lively and critically, both during the program and afterwards. Especially through the task of experimental economics, we got aware of the level of complexity affecting water management in Iran. Therefore, it was really enriching to also invite students of several universities of Iran as they came from different fields of study. Another important part of the Winter School program was the trip to Nishapur where we visited several monuments and tombs and got an introduction of the rich history of that place. A further can’t miss in Mashhad was the impressive Holy Shrine which is the largest mosque in the world by dimension and the second largest by capacity. Once inside the color and sweep of the complex was breathtaking. All in all, I could not only expand my knowledge about the issue of water and Iran, but also follow different scientific methodologies to deal with it. I was very thankful and happy about the warmth welcoming and hospitality of the Iranian students."

Marco Nilgen, PhD student in Economics

Foto: Ahmad Emamian


"When I applied for the 2018 NAREM Winter School in Mashhad, my main hope was to get at least some insight into the culture and people of Iran – a country that is so frequently covered by western media, but about which my own knowledge was somewhat limited to say the least. As my PhD studies will allow me to conduct extensive field research in another Islamic country, I was also curious to get to know what role Islam plays in the everyday life of a country. Apart from that, I was hoping to acquire some expert knowledge on issues related to sustainable water management, both in general, but also specifically within the context of a country as arid as Iran. After spending a week in the holy city of Mashhad, I can say that my hopes were definitely fulfilled. Both the local organizers and especially the Iranian students participating in the winter school were very friendly, hospitable and eager to show and explain to us the culture of their country in a way that no documentary or travel report could ever manage to do. It was nice to visit the various religious sites, especially the impressive Imam Reza shrine – Mashhad’s main landmark and one of the most holy sites of Shia Islam. But, as everyone should know, one really gets to know a country’s people outside of officially guided tours, so it was very nice to chat with the other participants during dinner or even later in one of Mashhad’s numerous tea- and coffeehouses. The fact that people from so many different nationalities participated in the winter school, made all the talks and discussions even more interesting and enjoyable. The academic part of the winter school provided valuable insight into the pressing water issues in Iran. Overall, I enjoyed my stay in Iran very much and I really hope that I can visit this amazing country again sometime in the future. I can only recommend participating in one of the future winter schools, which will hopefully come to fruition. Overall, it was a very well organized and pleasant experience and I would like to thank everyone who made this exchange possible."

Charlotte Gohr, M.Sc. Physical Geography

"First of all, I would like to express my great thanks to the organizers, financial supporters and associates to make this winter school possible. It was a great privilege to take part in that academic event. What I appreciated the most is the interdisciplinary academic approach, which was embedded in the structure of the winter school’s program. Coming with a background in geo informatics and physical geography, I learned a lot about approaches in the fields of economics, econometrics and sociology. I found many interconnections, especially the way of handling, modelling and interpreting data. The most interesting part for me was the workshop on experimental economics, with getting in touch with games theories more deeply. The advantage of the fully packed program was the possibility to get a broad and at the same time profound understanding on water and sustainable development issues. Luckily, I had the chance to participate in this year’s summer school in Marburg as well as in the winter school in Mashhad 2018. Thereby my connection with students from University of Mashhad could be deepened. Travelling to Iran for the first time, I felt really welcomed. I had a good time and good conversations with the participants of the winter school, as well as with the people I met outside the Ferdowsi University."

Mirza Bilal Asad Baig, M.Sc. Economics of the Middle East (EMEA)

Foto: Privat

"The sixth seasonal school in Mashhad from the NAREM project was indeed an extremely fulfilling highlight from my time at Philipps University Marburg which I will never forget. The content and structure of the program was extremely well organized thanks to the tireless efforts of both the local participants and hosts at the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad and the liaisons at Philipps University Marburg. One of the key aspects of the trip was the intellectual discussions that took place both on and off campus. I was pleasantly surprised by the hospitality and friendliness of the locals who were always willing to go out of their way to help us learn and experience the true culture of the country. To my amazement, each and every Iranian we met throughout the trip, be it a participant of the winter school, organizer, shop vendor or even a stranger on the street, we were always welcomed with warm-hearted smiles. The project granted me the unique opportunity to truly experience the ground realities about the progressiveness of the country and its culture. I would certainly love to see the continuation of, as well as participate in such future projects. Iran is definitely a country with an extremely rich heritage and culture that is worth experiencing."