• 6/10/2013

From Africa to Weihenstephan:

Siblings from Namibia at the WZW

You’ll think they are from Hamburg, but don’t be fooled: Annika and Dirk Woortman are Africans – but have an accent from the north of Germany. The siblings come from Namibia and are now studying at TUM Weihenstephan. At home, their family has a cattle farm. From the south of Africa to Freising? No problem: “We found a second home at TUM,” both of them agree.

Annika Woortman
Feels at home at TUM Weihenstephan: Student Annika Woortman (19) from Namibia. (Photo: Uli Benz)

Two worlds that could not differ more:  In Namibia, Annika (19) and Dirk (21) Woortman grew up on a farm. It covers the area of the Omatako mountains with 12,000 hectares of their own territory. The Woortmans have now been living there for five generations. At the end of the 19th century, their ancestors emigrated from northern Germany. Today, the farm has about 1,000 cattle and there are several different types of wild animals like the Oryx antelope which adorns the Namibian crest.

Longing for vastness

“We aren’t city kids,” says Annika. Their next neighbor lives more than 10 kilometers off and the nearest town is 100 kilometers away. At first, that was a major change.  “At home, I can see as far as the horizon – here, it is densely populated.” Annika studies Agricultural Sciences at the WZW. She does miss the vastness a little. The siblings always fly home for the semester holidays.

There is also a significant difference regarding the livestock farming: “We practice extensive farming,” explains Dirk. He is a student of Molecular Biotechnology. On their farm, it is more about managing the large cattle herds than about taking care of the individual animals. “At first, we noticed that the cattle have limited space here. The calves are alone in their igloo. In Namibia, they live in the open.”

It is a luxury to be here

In Africa, the Woortmans attended a private school in Namibia's capital Windhoek and managed the German Abitur. They have an older brother and a sister who also studied at the TUM’s WZW: Harm and Veronica. Harm is back home with the family. Veronica is currently working for a company in Germany.

Education cannot be taken for granted. “We are very grateful to be able to study here in Germany. It is a luxury that our parents could make this possible – we are aware of that.” They are enthusiastic about TUM and the people who study and work here.  “We really felt very welcome here.”  There is an especially close connection to Prof. Alois Heißenhuber (Institute of Agricultural Economics). Next year, he will accompany an excursion to Namibia.

FC Bayern in Africa

Although they feel comfortable here, some familiar things are missing. In Namibia, the sun always shines. Apart from the good weather, this also means a lot more light. In Germany it is much darker, especially this year. Sooner or later, they will return home for good – but they will not lose contact to Germany.

“In Namibia, we always keep track of what is going on in Germany,” Annika and Dirk say – also regarding the Football league. However, this issue divides the family. Annika is a fan of the FC Bayern, her brother and her father support the HSV. There is one thing she must do while she is in Germany: “I want to visit the Allianz Arena – when the FC Bayern is playing, of course.”

Technical University of Munich

Corporate Communications Center

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