Nazir Peroz sits in his office at the Technical University in Berlin with a thick stack of papers staring him in the face. And he's got the next day's classes to prepare, as well. The newspaper on the chair next to him looks destined to go unread once again. Nazir Peroz has very little free time. When he's not busy setting up data processing centers or networking colleges in his home country Afghanistan, he's directing the TU's Centre for International and Intercultural Communication (ZiiK). In 2000, Nazir Peroz himself founded the center as part of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty.
His objective is to find ways to supplement computer science with skills in intercultural communication, because, he says, the various technological means of interaction by no means guarantee that people will truly understand one another. So he attempts to sensitize his students to cultural relations. And he thinks it's a shame that German universities are not making better use of the great wealth of cultural resources that their foreign students have to offer. Through the years, he himself has supervised students from at least 133 nations and acquired some idea of the influence culture has on certain approaches, attitudes and strategies.
Nazir Peroz first came to Berlin in 1977 to study computer science at the Technical University. He had originally wanted to study in the USA, but, when confronted with the high tuition fees there, decided to come to Germany instead. His first years in West Germany presented him with a number of challenges: “I didn't know how to cook back then. I'd been spoiled by my parents at home“, he admits. His dependence on the student cafeteria with its not always appetizing fare inspired Peroz to learn to fix his own meals.
Over the years, he says, he has come to appreciate the straight talk typical of Germans. “I like the idea of plain talking. Through plain talking, you always end up getting at the truth. You know where the other guy is coming from.“
Just as close to the heart of this doctor of computer science is the part he has to play in Afghanistan's reconstruction. Creating a quality education system is essential to the country's future prosperity, of that he is certain.
So Nazir Peroz has been flying to his home country regularly – approximately every three months – since 2002, to help set up data processing centers and computer science faculties. He develops syllabi and trains IT engineers and computer administrators. He always takes along some of his co-workers from the ZiiK. “We have a wonderful team here at the center, and they support Afghanistan heart and soul“, he maintains proudly. And Afghan lecturers study at the ZiiK in Berlin, as well. Students who have earned their bachelor's in computer science with top grades in Afghanistan have a chance at a scholarship for studies in Germany. The two-year masters program is specially tailored to the needs of this Central Asian land. It seeks to impart not just purely technical skills and knowledge in computer science, but didactic methods, as well. The emphasis is on the way material is communicated. After completing their studies, the students commit to teach at their alma maters in Afghanistan for at least two years. The idea is for them to pass on what they've learned in Germany to as many others as possible. Nazir Peroz is pursuing a very clear objective: “I don't want to keep any Afghan students here. If all the qualified people were to leave the country, how could it be rebuilt?“ So far, his concept has worked. All the Afghan students who have completed the ZiiK study program have returned to their universities in their home country to work as lecturers and system administrators. Some of them have even achieved leadership positions.