Ipeleng Kgatle and the DAAD-Stiftung
This could be you welcoming" your" scholarship holder to Germany
“As a DAAD-Stiftung scholarship holder, I would love to say thank you for the continued support. It feels special to me to know that I am the first beneficiary ever who is supported directly by the foundation – based on donations. I am aware, that makes it unique for the DAAD-Stiftung, too, that is still growing and working hard to raise funds in order to support other students like me by the help of generous donors. That means I also feel responsibility to meet expectations – mine and theirs.
For me, the support from the DAAD-Stiftung means a great deal. It means I have been given a chance to follow and live out my dreams as an opera singer. It has afforded me the opportunity to study in Europe and to reach my full potential. Coming from a third world country, DAAD-Stiftung has given me a chance to study in a country with great opportunities for young opera singers and with an opera industry of high standard. It has also afforded me an opportunity to learn and grow in a country of very high academic excellence. I appreciate it because it came at a time when my dream to study in Germany looked bleak and seemed impossible because of the lack of funds. It gave me hope for a better future for me and my family back home. It has also given me the chance to learn about different cultures, learn a different language and meet new people.
I would love to encourage people to support the goals of the DAAD-Stiftung because it gives people like me hope - people who do not have much but their dreams. It gives a strand of hope even for the people we leave behind in our home countries. It gives people that need it the most the opportunity to learn, explore, grow and become the best versions of themselves. I would encourage any person to support the DAAD-Stiftung and maybe even become a Stipendien-Pate because it grows the culture of giving back, which will then ensure it continues for years to come.
One day, when my dreams have come true, I will make sure to give back myself.”
As my time with the DAAD-Stiftung comes to an end, I cannot help but feel emotional with a sense of gratitude. I am reminded of my younger self a few years ago, with just a dream to one day study in Europe and do what I love, which is to sing. With no idea how this dream would come true, I kept dreaming but had no idea whatsoever how I would make it happen. There were many points where I felt desperate, approaching people to help me make this dream come true, and only getting nos for answers. Seeing the hurt in my parents’ faces as they saw how stressed and desperate I was and how I wanted so badly to be given a chance to go study abroad, and knowing that they could not help me with making it happen really hurt me.
I then got people that were willing to take a chance on me, without even knowing me. People that didn’t have to help me but helped me anyway, the DAAD-Stiftung and all its sponsors. From the dusty streets of Tembisa, a township in South Africa, to Germany. When I found out that the DAAD-Stiftung would be giving me a Stipendium for my master’s studies, I was extremely happy. My parents were also very happy and somewhat relieved that I had finally received financial help to go study abroad. I was happy because I had found people that were committed to helping me for the next coming 2 years as a student in Germany. All of this I received because of my singing professor at the Mannheim Hochschule who had only heard me sing once in her life, who did not rest until I was here in Germany, who made sure she did everything in her power to make my dreams come true. She believed in me and my talent even when I didn’t believe in myself sometimes. She didn’t give up until I was here and through her, me and the DAAD-Stiftung were able to find each other.
The DAAD-Stiftung has been committed to helping me from day one. They were very instrumental in insuring that I get my student visa in time. They assisted me with every insecurity I might have had when I moved here. They continued to assist me with all the questions I had, which made settling down very easy. During my two years of studying and living in Mannheim, they have always been open and ready to help me with everything I needed.
After almost 2 years of staying in Germany, looking back I can say that it has been very interesting. I have loved staying here, exploring new cultures, meeting new people and exploring the opera industry. For the first few months, I could not believe that I was actually living in Germany. I couldn’t believe I was living one of my dreams. It took me a long time to get used to this fact and when I look back I can’t help but smile. When I think about my peers back at home, I am reminded of how lucky I have been.
At first, I found living here difficult, mostly because the language, but that got better as I started taking German classes at the music Hochschule and practicing it a bit when I went out to the shops or when I was talking to friends. When I got here, I noticed a few differences compared to South Africa, like how the main form of transport here were trains and bicycles, where in South Africa people didn’t use bicycles and most people used taxis to get around. I also found the weather to be surprisingly warm, when I was expecting it to be mostly cold. Adjusting to the culture was not that hard as South Africa had somewhat adopted the western culture. It did take me a while to get used to the food though, because I couldn’t find a lot of South African foods here.
Living here has been an exciting journey with a lot of ups and downs. One of the downs were me feeling homesick. I had never stayed so far from my home and my loved ones. It took a long time to get used to at the beginning, but it got better with time. I still get this feeling from time to time, but I am consoled by knowing that I am here to pursue my dreams. In many times, this has been able to keep me going.
I have loved living in Germany and have learned a lot. I have also made a lot of meaningful friendships and beautiful memories. Being supported by the DAAD-Stiftung has impacted me greatly. It has given me the chance to learn and grow as a young artist. It has afforded me the opportunity to study in Mannheim, in turn bringing me closer to the opera scene. Through them, I have been able to do what I love and sing in Germany, grow as a singer and make connections which will be helpful for my career in the future. Through them, I have also been able to slowly establish my singing career here.
All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the sponsorship from the DAAD-Stiftung. It wouldn’t have been possible without the people that donate to the DAAD-Stiftung, giving people like me a chance to achieve our dreams. Because of them, I was able to achieve my dream and for that, I will forever be grateful to them. Furthermore, I would love to encourage more people to donate to the DAAD-Stiftung, so that the lives of more deserving young people can be changed for the better.