Niels Richter is a high school student enrolled full-time in a boarding school in southern Germany. He also just completed a three-week internship in WAB's Information Technology (IT) department. Unusual? Not for Grade 10 students in Germany.
Under the German school system, Grade 10 students are required to complete a three-week internship. The internship can be anywhere in the world on almost any subject, avoiding only those prohibited by German law for privacy reason, such as private banking, law, and health care. Students' families pay for all expenses associated with the internship.
Niels is a WAB Alumnus; he attended Western Academy of Beijing from January 2005 to July 2008, which for him was half of Grade 3 and all of Grades 4-6. Niels grew up in Berlin and attended an international American school there where he learned some English. His family moved to Beijing, and he to WAB, in 2005 because his father took a local position with Volkswagen. After WAB, Niels returned to school in Berlin for one year and then transferred to his current German boarding school.
Upon reaching Grade 10 and the German internship requirement, Niels' very first thought was to call WAB. He knew he wanted to intern in the field of technology and he remembered much about WAB's IT department from his days here. "When I was at WAB, I was impressed that the school had such huge advancement in technology. I wanted to see what it had now become." Niels telephoned MS Assistant Principal Kevin Rose and soon Niels was on his way back to China and to WAB. What is it like returning to Beijing after four years away? "It is incredible seeing how everything has changed," said Niels, "particularly the city and the environment." Niels' classmates in Grade 10 in are completed their own internships in everything from car repair/replacements in Germany and public banking in the Ukraine, to finance in the United States.
We kept Niels very busy during his three weeks here at WAB. Not only did he complete a great deal of real and necessary IT work in his brief stint here, he was also able to learn and try out many new technology tools. Niels really appreciated getting, as he said, "a glimpse at what a modern school is like," adding that unfortunately his German boarding school's "technological state is in the Middle Ages." Niels worked 40 hours per week, sometimes more, with the IT Department on a broad variety of projects including:
- Designing and developing multiple online training tutorials for WAB staff
- Conducting hands on training sessions for staff
- Directing and producing using the Tricaster Broadcast System several live webcasts of school events that were viewed by people worldwide
- Researching for the IT department electronic student response systems and networking sites for use with internal networks
- Collaborating with our video staff to create interviews of WAB high school students for a video to be used at the Asian IBO conference
As his internship mentor, WAB Director of Technology Jeff Holte, wrote of Niels, "We only wish he were older so we could hire him." Niels was very well received by all of the staff and students here at WAB. Jeff recalls staff training session participants commenting that Niels was "an excellent trainer."