The sponsorship programme rounds off the International General/Admiral Staff Officer Course (IGASOC) at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College. It gives foreign officers the opportunity to not only engage in the usual training and education activities, but also to get to know the city of Hamburg and to understand Germany and its people, culture and way of life. The students and their families enjoy a casual and individual relationship with their sponsors. This way, sponsorship fosters personal exchange, thus making an important contribution to understanding between peoples.
Our sponsors in Hamburg have different social backgrounds. In the first place, they are key communicators to us. They contribute substantially to ensuring that the foreign officers enjoy being in Germany. When meeting up, sponsors help their assigned officers to not only improve their language skills, but also to better understand German culture. This projects a positive and lasting image of Germany. For example, one student of the 2019 International General/Admiral Staff Officer Course who was assigned a sponsor family told me: ‘The sponsors have treated me like my parents do.’
The answer is quite simple: anyone who is interested. There are no formal requirements for becoming a sponsor; moreover, sponsorship can be organised according to personal interests. Volunteers may also sponsor several foreign officers if they wish. However, the following set-up has proved its value: one sponsor/sponsor family looks after one officer either with or without family. What matters is that all persons concerned are able to build a relationship of trust.
Sponsors invite the foreign officers they were matched with to family and leisure activities. Besides, they endeavour to help with everyday problems. Apart from aiding the foreign officers and their families in finding their way around Germany, and Hamburg especially, sponsors also support them in improving their German language skills. Their personal relationship provides both the sponsors and the students with numerous opportunities to explore their cultures, which helps pave the way for lifelong friendships.
Sponsors and foreign officers are officially matched at the beginning of the course in January. This year, however, the event had to be postponed due to the Covid situation. Initially, the sponsorship is scheduled to last for one year; it may be extended to continue during the next course or indefinitely for as long as the sponsors wish.
Sponsors discuss with their assigned officers as to how much time they would like to spend with them and what they would like to do.
The IGASOC welcomes volunteers who would like to become involved in supporting foreign guests. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please get in touch with the IGASOC’s administrative office.
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The team of the International General/Admiral Staff Officer Course (IGASOC) is made up of the Course Director and four tutors each leading a syndicate. In addition to two Army syndicates, there is one Navy syndicate and one Air Force syndicate. The international and German students on the course are divided into these four syndicates. The Navy syndicate of the 2021 IGASOC, for example, consists of eleven international students and three senior officers from Germany who support the tutor by acting as mentors.
One of the responsibilities of a tutor is to lead their syndicate and to impart knowledge of the structures and functioning of the European security architecture in coordination with the different faculties of the Command and Staff College. Working as a tutor requires a leadership style that can win the hearts and minds of the international students and gives due consideration to their personal concerns. Within 12 months at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, tutors prepare the senior officers for selected assignments in general/admiral staffs and major commands. Moreover, tutors explain historical and social contexts in Germany to the international students by engaging in discussions, giving them personal attention and working together in partnership.