Distance Learning Abroad: Perpetual Spring and German Supermarkets
Andres Matti gave up his career as an SAP consultant for a job as a development-aid worker in Rwanda. What has helped him in his new career? The IUBH distance-learning programme.
“Hi Muzungu, how are you?” Muzungu means “white person” in most East African languages. As a European you always attract interest here in Rwanda. And you have to bring patience and a certain negotiating skills with you when you come to Africa. But in the coming years, a broad middle class with strong consumer power is going to be developing here. So there is a lot of potential for business ideas.
I was attracted to Rwanda. Rwanda – the land of 1,000 hills, the land of everlasting spring. That is really a perfect description: It’s fertile and rich with green hills as far as the eye can see. Sometimes you find a lake nestled lovingly around the hills. There’s also good infrastructure. It’s one of the safest countries in the world. And it has pleasant, early summer temperatures – all year round. That’s Rwanda. It’s an absolute tip for travellers who are new to Africa.
From computer science to development aid
I am 37 and married and was born in Nuremberg. Ten years ago I couldn’t have imagined that I would be working in Rwanda. I had completed my studies in business informatics and was successfully building my future as an SAP consultant. I travelled to tropical regions, to Mexico, for the first time around then. That sparked my love for Latin America and Africa – and I couldn’t let go.
However, I also saw the misery and bitter poverty. And I wanted help and change things. That’s why, from 2012 to 2014, I completed a Master’s degree in sustainable development cooperation alongside my work. During my holiday leave, I did various internships in South Africa and Mexico, such as for SOS Kinderdörfer.
At the end of my studies I became especially interested in Rwanda. In 1994, it was the scene of a brutal genocide that cost one million lives in just 100 days. But over the past 25 years, this country has become a beacon of growth, security and stability on the African continent. That’s why I decided to write my thesis in Rwanda in early 2014. I left my employer at the time and went to Rwanda for three months.
I was so filled with insights about development cooperation that I didn’t want to go back to IT consulting. Instead, at the end of 2014, I started working as the office and project manager for a vocational training project in Rwanda. The aim of the project was to establish dual training programmes in selected occupations.
Lifelong learning: IUBH distance learning opens up new opportunities
This career change has shown me how important lifelong learning is and that you can always reinvent yourself. My project in Rwanda is relatively small. I like the management duties. But because I could imagine managing a larger project in the future, I wanted to reinvent myself again and get the right qualifications. So at the end of 2018, I began studying for a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) at IUBH.
The distance-learning programme at IUBH is great and fits perfectly into my everyday life. I try to spend half an hour studying every morning in addition to the studying I do on the weekends. Everything is online: You can download the scripts, podcasts and presentations, questions and answers as well as the exams. But the exams are a real challenge: The IBUH online exam system is great, but in East Africa, the Internet connection is still unreliable and power outages can happen. That’s why I always try to finish as quickly as possible so as not to fail because of a network disruption.
African love story, new friendships and yearning for German food
Rwanda not only changed my working life. I met new friends here: Rwandans and Germans. There is a large German community here including two German bakers and butchers. I also met my true love here and married her in 2016: She’s a dentist from the neighbouring country Uganda.
What do I miss most from Germany? Family and friends of course. That’s why my wife and I are going to have one foot here and one in Germany in the future. One thing I still really miss is German supermarkets – there are so many choices that are just hard to find here: chocolate, different types of cheese and sausage. It’s our second paradise, next to East Africa!