23. April 2020

“I am practicing my skills in inquiring digitally”: Voices from Home-Office

Therese Oettl studied pedagogy and sport didactics (BA) as well as transcultural european outdoor studies (MA). Since 2018, she heads the College's Outdoor program.

Since March 13, UWC Robert Bosch College has been in a state of self-isolation; at the moment, 120 students and 20 staff members live on campus. The rest of our college staff has been working remotely. Whether in an administrative role or as a teacher: working from home takes some getting used to. We have asked our off-campus colleagues how they feel about working / teaching remotely and being away from campus. To start with, here is an interview with our social pedagogue Therese, who supports the on-campus staff via a shopping service, created by herself.


How do you feel about the overall situation?

Personally, I am handling the situation very well. I am very grateful to live in a country that has one of the best health care systems in the world and takes very conscientious and considered decisions. In my opinion, Germany is one of the few countries that can use this crisis to re-calibrate itself socially. My thoughts go out to the families of our students who live in regions that will find it difficult to get back on their feet in terms of health and economically.

How do you stay in touch with the college?

Compared to my normal working days, contact with the college is naturally very limited. Nevertheless, I conduct many conversations digitally, which works quite well. However, the focus and “recipe for success” of my work is currently missing: the encounter by chance, the silent observation, the open door and the offer to be there – these things are not possible. So, I can only react to situations that are explicitly shared with me, and I am practicing my skills in inquiring digitally.

You founded the off-campus shopping service – how does it work?

The idea of service is a cornerstone of the RBC concept. Self-isolation demands more energy, time, and personal space from our colleagues on campus, so it soon became clear that we wanted to provide the best possible support from outside. A home-cooked dinner with the family or with the partner helps our colleagues to experience a small element of normal everyday life. This way they can recharge their batteries to be fully available for our students. We also supply the newly founded RBC kiosk, which offers hygiene products and treats; these include necessary things like toothpaste and shampoo, but the one or other bag of crisps also finds its way to the college.

The procedure: the colleagues on campus enter their wishes in a shared Excel list or write an e-mail to the person responsible for the next day. The shopping list is updated every day and what is left over goes onto the shopping list for the next day. At the very beginning of the lockdown and just before Easter, there were some bottlenecks in the food industry, but now we can fulfill any wishes almost every day.

At this point I would like to thank all the people on the team who set off every day by bike or car and also get the one or other funny glance due to the large amounts they buy. Fortunately, we have experienced a lot of solidarity upon revealing that we are on a shopping mission for a whole boarding school.

What additional tasks for the college can you take on from home?

Since the fields of work in boarding school education are not only related to interpersonal contact, I can currently work more on structural and organisational tasks. The next school year is definitely coming, and a well-thought-through plan is half the rent for a successful event. Since I am mainly responsible for the outdoor events of our school, now is a good time to evaluate the class events for about 100 students and to rethink concepts.

Do you have a message to the community “inside”?

Enjoy the time together. Stay connected and mentally strong. Move! Our will is the strongest human muscle.


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