Guten Tag Deutschland

DSC_0808.JPGUNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg, Germany

Greetings from Hamburg, Germany! This summer, I am interning at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL). I am very excited to share my life and work experience thus far in Germany.

It is hard to believe that I have stayed in Germany for a total of seven weeks. I still remember the first day I arrived in Hamburg. It was a cold Saturday, after a long flight and spending a long time finding my flat without internet, I was very tired. However, I could not rest my legs and had to rush to the supermarket to buy groceries because most shops and restaurants are closed on Sunday, except a few shops at the central train station. It is quite different from China. Chinese people are busy with work during weekdays, thus they usually go shopping on weekends. Therefore, I was confused about what people usually do on Sundays here. After experiencing several weekends in Hamburg, I found the answer: without working or shopping, Sundays are great opportunities for families and friends to spend time together and explore nature.

Hamburg is a green city with many parks, rivers and lakes. Entertainment in summer includes lying on the grass to enjoy the sunshine, having a barbeque at the park, riding bicycles around the river, among other outdoor activities. Last weekend, I went canoeing for the first time in my life. Due to my lack of skill, my paddle hit both sides of the river and my face ran into the branches that were on the side! On top of this, insects were jumping all over the place! At the end I had a lot of fun, though.

DSC_0817.JPGDSC_0902.JPG 34908755_10156436709449287_3381405770498179072_n

Another activity to do on Sundays is a visit to the Fish Market, which is a great place for early birds and night owls to find typical local fish sandwiches, fresh fish, fruits and clothing. Drinking a beer, watching the live performance at the historic Fish Auction Hall and feeling the wind from Hamburg’s Harbor are also must-do things at the Fish Market.


This summer also belongs to the World Cup! Germans love football. On weekends, many children play football at the parks and playgrounds. Bars and restaurant are full of people watching the game and drinking beer. When Germany won a game, even the information board of buses showed the scores as soon as the match ended.


 UIL’s “Cheering for the World Cup” picture in the UNESCO Education Newsletter


Work Life

UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) is located in a historic villa. As told by its names, UIL’s mission is “ to promote and support lifelong learning with a focus on adult learning, continuing education, literacy and non-formal basic education.” 

UIL is comprised of the Programme for Lifelong Learning Policies and Strategies, the Programme for Adult Learning and Education, the Programme for Literacy and Basic Skills, the Library, Publications, and Administration. The department I work for is the Lifelong Learning Policies and Strategies programme, which has three focuses: Lifelong learning policy analysis, Recognition, validation and accreditation of non-formal and informal learning, and Learning cities.  

Learning Cities Among the above three areas, I mainly work for the Learning Cities project. If we say that lifelong learning policies are more focused on the governmental level—helping governments to include lifelong learning perspective into their educational plan, learning cities are more focused on the city level—encouraging cities to promote a lifelong learning agenda into local actions according to their specific needs and challenges.

My tasks within the “Learning Cities” project have been:

  • Inserting and verifying the subtitles of several video tutorials that UIL has developed to help cities to build a learning city.
  • Updating the list of subscribers of  the learning cities newsletter.
  • Making Powerpoints for UIL’s publications, such as “Unlocking the potential of urban communities Volume II: Case studies of sixteen learning cities” and “Promoting lifelong learning for all: The experience of Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania”. I was not good at making Powerpoints before. However, after finishing these tasks, I am happy to say that I have acquired more skills in Powerpoint development! Also, while making the presentations, I became more familiar with good practices and policies that different countries have developed for lifelong learning.

Besides these tasks, I have drafted a background for the Xiong’an New Area education proposal, of becoming a smart city. Because of this task, I have done research on what kind of skills are needed for students and teachers in the digital world.

A great benefit of working at UIL is that interns are welcome to attend their meetings and capacity-building workshops. The workshop  “Education Sector Plan Analysis” made me realize that what I learned in my first year at GW is related more to the perspective of designing programs in an international organization. What I need to learn more in my second year is about government’s perspectives in designing an educational plan for their countries. Furthermore, the schedule of my work is quite nice. We have a coffee break and a lunch break, during which we can relax and build relationships with each other.

dsc_1180.jpgMeeting of UIL and the university of Wurzburg


I took a weekend trip to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Copenhagen is full of bicycles, historical architects and interesting museums. I spent a lot of time visiting many attractions and sights, such as the statue of The Little Mermaid, Christiansborg Palace and Nyhavn. Among these, my favourite is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is located on the coast and faces a beautiful beach. The museum is an excellent combination of indoor exhibitions, architecture, natural lights and shadow. I spent a whole day sitting at the outdoor space of the museum to enjoy the marvelous landscape.


I look forward to experiencing more in the rest of my internship. Thank you so much for reading. Dankeschön!



Meng is a Master’s candidate in International Education at The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development. This summer, she interns at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg, Germany.


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