1988: Founding of the PIASTA tutorial program
In 1988, the Programm zur Integration ausländischer StudienanfängerInnen (PIASTA) is established in the area of German as a foreign language. Teachers of German as a foreign language realized that international students needed support when starting their studies and advocated for the founding of a tutorial program. International students at more advanced levels and serving as tutors organized the PIASTA Café, helping their international classmates with tips and advice.
1988–2008: Establishment of further initiatives by and for international students
Over the years, further initiatives develop—for example:
- Stipendienprogramm für ausländische Studierende (SPAS) (trips and other cultural and recreational group activities organized each semester by students who received scholarships for academic achievement and wanted to get involved)
- writing workshop (writing courses and writing advice for international students)
- students with children (greet and meets and networking for students with children)
- Alumni International (ALINT) (alumni network for international students)
2006: Federal Foreign Office’s prize for excellent international student support services at German universities
In 2006, the PIASTA team was awarded the Federal Foreign Office’s prize for excellent international student support services at German universities in the amount of EUR 7,500 in Bonn by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
PIASTA was presented with the award for its innovative solutions and particularly effective model in the area of professional and social supervision.
2008–2009: Reorientation and reorganization
From 2008 to 2009, a participatory process took place to reorient and reorganize the group. Volunteers in the various initiatives as well as the PIASTA tutors and coordinators were invited by the section responsible in the Department of International Affairs to network more closely and consolidate their offers for greater visibility.
The most important results:
- All offers under a single umbrella: All offers are posted on a shared website and in a single program brochure under the common, most familiar name of PIASTA.
- All offers target all students, whether German or international.
- Former deficit-oriented approaches to integration and education (“international students need help”) make way for current educational approaches focused on diversity (“international students enrich university life”). Rather than see international students as needing supervision or guidance, they are now seen as multipliers of intercultural campus life.
- Accordingly, PIASTA reorganizes and becomes an innovative program for internationalization at home, providing extracurricular activities at Universität Hamburg.
- PIASTA changes its name from Programm zur Integration ausländischer Studienanfänger:innen to Programm International für alle Studierende und Alumni and adds a subtitle: PIASTA—Intercultural Living and Learning.
- New initiatives are added to create a holistic program from the beginning to the end of studies. Alongside the PIASTA Café and the usual cultural and recreational activities, PIASTA now also organizes the International Welcome Week and a training and coaching program.
- The first International Welcome Week for all international and German first-year students took place in Winter Semester 2009/10.
Since 2009: The new PIASTA—Intercultural Living and Learning program
As an innovative extracurricular program at Universität Hamburg that aims to internationalize at home, the new PIASTA program focuses on fostering a welcoming culture and intercultural exchange. The program continues to be organized by students for students and offers many opportunities for international students to become visible as role models and multipliers of diversity on campus.
Under the umbrella of PIASTA—Intercultural Living and Learning the following programs are offered to all German and international students at Universität Hamburg:
Welcome and Cultural Program
- Settle in quickly at Universität Hamburg.
- Enjoy culture and diversity, meet people, and have fun.
- Discover Hamburg and explore new recreational activities.
Training and Coaching Program
- Gain key skills to succeed in your degree program, your doctoral studies, and starting your career.
- Get information and advice on your studies.
- Learn strategies for coping with difficult situations in everyday university life.
Finance and Residence Permits Information Desk
- Get information and advice on legal, financial, and governmental matters.
2010–2013: DAAD model project Changing Perspectives—International Students as Intercultural Ambassadors
PIASTA successfully applied for external funding for its Changing Perspectives—International Students as Intercultural Ambassadors program via PROFIN, the DAAD’s program to promote the integration of foreign students.
The model project draws on the positive experiences of the new PIASTA concept and develops further formats in line with the internationalization-at-home strategy to tap into the potential and shared commitment of international and German students working toward internationalizing the University.
The following offers were developed and established for the long term:
- Certificate Intercultural Competence (CIC)
- PIASTA Welcome Buddy Program
- PIASTA Language Cafés
2016: PIASTA program awarded the Equal Opportunity Prize by Universität Hamburg.
2016: The University awards the intercultural tutorial program PIASTA the Equal Opportunity Prize for its outstanding, visible, and long-term commitment to equal opportunity measures in the areas of gender and diversity.
PIASTA is recognized for fostering constructive approaches to diversity and improving equal opportunity for international students at Universität Hamburg.
2012–2020: Cooperation with the Universitätskolleg
PIASTA takes part in the Universitätskolleg’s Bridges to the University—Pathways to Academia initiative (2012—2016) in the areas devoted to first-year students and academic study. It actively shapes these areas via knowledge exchange, networking, conference contributions, and publications.
PIASTA and the Universitätskolleg’s Diversität als Chance initiative (2016–2020) have a cooperation agreement. As part of this agreement, new welcome offers are developed and tested—such as the pilot project StudienPerspektivTage in the Faculty of Education.