KU awards DAAD Prize to Iranian Master’s student

She speaks eight languages, is enthusiastic about foreign cultures and intercultural communication and is engaged in voluntary work with refugees alongside her studies: Iranian national Hoora Dabbaghian, student at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU), is awarded this year’s prize of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD prize). The award endowed with 1,000 euros honors outstanding achievements and social commitment of international students. The 31-year-old who has just completed her Master’s program in “European Studies: Language, Literature, and Culture” at the KU wants to work in the field of integration of refugees and people with a migration background in the future. She says she would like to dedicate the prize to “all people in Iran who stand up for peace in the world and in their country”.

Hoora Dabbaghian came to Germany in 2018 to study. In her home country, she had already completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree as a translator for the language combination Persian (her mother tongue) to English – with outstanding grades. In addition, she learned Arabic at school. But Dabbaghian wanted to learn even more languages and started taking German lessons in order to be able to study in a Master’s program in Germany. “I am very interested in the topics of communication and culture, migration and integration. This is why the Master’s program offered at the KU in Eichstätt appealed to me so much”, says Dabbaghian. “Mastering foreign languages helps you to develop a better understanding of different cultures and their people.” She went on to say that mutual understanding and communication with each other was the key to international and intercultural understanding and peace. “I also love traveling and I am very interested in literature – here, good language skills come in handy as well.” So, Dabbaghian took further language courses during her studies in Eichstätt and learned Spanish, French and Russian. For a semester abroad at Malmö University, she also added Swedish to the list. “Learning the first two or three foreign languages is hard, but it gets easier with every language you add”, says Dabbaghian laughing. The next language she wants to learn is Japanese.

Prof. Dr. Richard Nate, Chairholder of English Literary Studies and Head of the Master’s degree program in European Studies, was impressed by the Iranian student from the very beginning because she devoted herself to her studies with “a great deal of diligence and commitment”. She took a particular interest in intercultural perspectives and issues – “a field, for which she also profitably uses her knowledge on the history and culture of her country of origin.” For her Master’s thesis, she decided to approach the question of how the expectations and perspectives of the European Union have changed in the last two decades.

Despite the particular challenges connected to studying in a foreign country far away from home and having to finance the studies by taking on side jobs, Hoora Dabbaghian, soon after she began studying in Eichstätt, started providing advice to other Iranian students and engaged in voluntary work for helping refugees. “This is exemplary of how committed she is to put what she has learned in her studies into practice”, says Nate. Amongst others, Dabbaghian is the administrator of a social media channel that has more than 30,000 young Iranian followers. On this platform, she provides information on study opportunities and the life in Germany. She also works in the integration service of the Malteser Hilfsdienst in Eichstätt on a voluntary basis to help refugees from Afghanistan. “I have experienced myself what it is like to have to find one’s way around a foreign country and a new culture – this helps me to better understand the situation of the refugees.” For example, she accompanies refugees to the doctor’s or to administrative appointments and helps them in translating and understanding official letters and forms.

After completing her studies at the KU, Hoora Dabbaghian will move to Stuttgart in the near future to start a position at the Caritas integration service at the end of this year. She particularly wants to help refugees from Ukraine. “I want to use the skills I acquired in my studies to fight for a better world and for peace also later in my life”, says Hoora Dabbaghian.

[Translate to Englisch:]

Prof. Dr. Richard Nate, Inhaber des Lehrstuhls für Englische Literaturwissenschaft und Leiter des Masterstudiengangs Europastudien, ist die Iranerin von Beginn an aufgefallen, weil sie sich „mit sehr viel Fleiß und Engagement“ ihrem Studium widmete. Ihr besonderes Interesse gelte interkulturellen Perspektiven und Fragestellungen, „wofür sie auch ihr Wissen um die Geschichte und Kultur ihres Herkunftslandes gewinnbringend einsetzt“. In der Masterarbeit ging sie der Frage nach, wie sich die Erwartungen und Perspektiven der Europäischen Union in den vergangenen beiden Jahrzehnten verändert haben.
Trotz der besonderen Herausforderungen, ein Studium in einem fremden Land und fern der Heimat zu absolvieren und durch Nebenjobs zu finanzieren, habe Hoora Dabbaghian schon bald nach dem Studienstart begonnen, andere iranische Studierende zu beraten und sich für geflüchtete Menschen einzusetzen. „Das zeigt, mit welchem Ernst sie ihre im Studium gewonnenen Einsichten praktisch zur Anwendung bringt“, sagt Nate. Dabbaghian ist unter anderem Administratorin eines Social-Media-Kanals, den mehr als 30.000 junge Iranerinnen und Iraner abonniert haben. Dort informiert sie unter anderem über Studienmöglichkeiten und das Leben in Deutschland. Beim Malteser Hilfsdienst in Eichstätt engagiert sich die Studentin im Integrationsdienst ehrenamtlich für geflüchtete Menschen aus Afghanistan. „Ich habe es selbst erlebt, wie es ist, sich in einem fremden Land und einer neuen Kultur zurechtfinden zu müssen – daher kann ich mich gut in deren Lage hineinversetzen.“ Sie begleitet beispielsweise Geflüchtete bei Arztbesuchen und dem Gang zu Ämtern und hilft ihnen beim Übersetzen und Verstehen von Briefen und Formularen.
Nach dem Abschluss ihres Studiums an der KU wird Hoora Dabbaghian in Kürze nach Stuttgart ziehen und dort zum Jahresende eine Stelle beim Integrationsdienst der Caritas antreten. Sie möchte dabei ukrainischen Geflüchteten helfen. „Mit meinem Studium und meinen Fähigkeiten möchte ich mich auch später in meinem Leben für eine bessere Welt und für mehr Frieden einsetzen“, sagt Hoora Dabbaghian.

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