Hertie Helps: Hertie School students get involved with local communities

Students, local NGO, Berlin police officers and local youth bond over shared experiences.

Over the past year, as part of the Hertie Helps project, a group of Hertie School students has been regularly meeting with KbNa, a local association that aims to strengthen cooperation between the police and local children to prevent violence. The Hertie School students spend their afternoons with children from a local neighbourhood in Berlin, participating in various sports and cultural activities.

KbNa: Building networks in local neighbourhoods 

KbNa stands for Kiezbezogener Netzwerkaufbau, which translates as “neighbourhood-based network building”. For the past thirteen years, this association has organised and hosted activities to bring local children together with Berlin police officers and volunteers to promote more peaceful coexistence in disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Berlin. In the words of Eckhard Mantei from KbNa: “We are particularly interested in building trust between the neighbourhood’s children and the police officers of the local police department." As such, the police officers, in uniform, pick up the children once a week and drive them to the various activities. 

One such activity involved making pizza with the children and the other volunteers and later sharing the meal. With the mother of one of the children coordinating cooking activities, children, students and volunteers alike chopped ingredients and washed the dishes. The Hertie School students and the children played games together like football and basketball and concluded the evening by sitting together and eating the pizzas they had made.

Mantei: “A collaboration that greatly benefits both sides”

According to João Vitor Krieger, a first-year Master of Public Policy student, the children are not the only ones to profit from the project. “We’re making lasting connections with the children and the community, and we’re also learning about the challenges they face and the work being done by KbNa to address these challenges,” he says. “Whenever the language barrier is an issue, we find ways to connect, bridging the gap using gestures, smiles and laughter.”

“It is a collaboration that greatly benefits both sides,” comments Mantei. “From the very first day of this project, we’ve worked well together as a team and always have a lot of fun. There are always lively and intense discussions, we all get to give back to society, and we have been able to develop real friendships. A win-win situation for everyone involved!”

How to get involved with Hertie Helps

Hertie Helps seeks to provide volunteering opportunities to students, allowing them to engage with people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life in Berlin, develop cultural awareness, and gain valuable interpersonal skills. The university encourages students to participate in such initiatives, which provide valuable opportunities for personal and professional growth, as well as community engagement.

“We would be pleased to have Hertie School students continue to participate in our activities,” says Mantei.

If you are a current or incoming student and would like to get involved with volunteering activities over the summer or in the next academic year, contact our Student Life team at studentlife@hertie-school.org or sign-up on Moodle