“Project Development and Project Financing.” KAAD reintegration seminar in Bonn
The preparation of scholarship holders to meet the challenges of establishing themselves professionally in their home countries, is one of the central tasks of KAAD. This seminar, which was attended by outweigh advanced students, served this aim.
24 fellows from thirteen countries came together from August 25th-28th in Bonn to discuss the various aspects of their professional reintegration in the home countries. They brought with them doubts and questions, but also business and project ideas as well as career plans. Project development in general is a key aspect of the process of setting up one’s own professional future at home. It can refer to the preparation of university research-projects to projects for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which often depend on external financial sources. But some KAAD fellows also play with the idea to start their own businesses.
Dr. Henry Schürmann of the Catholic relief organization MISEREOR, who could refer to a wide-range experience in project development and evaluation, represented the different steps that a thorough set up of projects require, if they shall awaken interest among partners and potential sponsors. He emphasized repeatedly that a promising project idea must be embedded in its social and economic context. Without the close cooperation of local people any project idea has little chance of gaining financial support and of being successful. Dr. Schürmann encouraged participants to develop their own projects and visions and to meet the challenges their implementation might bring with them.
For the workshop, “Start-up Clinic for KAAD Scholars” Prof. Dr. Utz Dornberger, Director of the SEPT-Program (Small Enterprise Promotion and Training) at the University of Leipzig had requested in advance that participants present brief descriptions of their own business models. The submitted ideas ranged from food-preservation projects in Uganda to waste prevention in Vietnam and to building a library in Myanmar. They were then developed further during the seminar. The training team from Leipzig succeeded in putting the innovative ideas in relation to the tough environment of implementing a business model, taking into account factors such as market analysis, identification of customer groups, etc. The participants were fascinated by this practical and interactive working unit. The SEPT-program and KAAD underlined their long-standing cooperation through this joined-seminar.
Reconstructing a Country: How Post-Conflict Societies Find Ways for a New Beginning
The ongoing violent conflicts in the Middle East and in other parts of the world have resulted in destruction, migratory flows and large-scale destabilization of entire regions. Will a new beginning be possible in this extremely polarized region? Can new forms of functioning statehood arise? Which types of international reconstruction aid can stimulate successful recovery processes in the Middle East? The KAAD seminar “Reconstructing a Country: How Post-Conflict Societies Find Ways for a New Beginning” that took place from 4th to 7th August 2016 focused precisely on those questions (Moderation: Dr. Christina Pfestroff/ Spiritual Guidance: Fr. Dr. Thomas Eggensberger). 31 scholars from KAAD, the Cusanuswerk and the theological scholarship program Albertus Magnus took part in the event.
Dr. Bruno Schoch from the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, who has been conducting intense research on Kosovo as well as on other conflict regions, explained the steps to be taken during the transition from armed conflict to more democratization. He also stressed that stopping violence is the first and most important precondition for starting a transition process.
Anna Mühlhausen from the University of Magdeburg addressed the issue of deradicalization of terrorist groups and the chances for reconciliation in the aftermath of terrorist violence. She elaborated on the notion of reconciliation and the concept of transitional justice as a way of coming to terms with collective crimes committed in the past. Ms. Mühlhausen also explained various methods of negotiating and conflict management aimed at deradicalization and disengagement from terrorism.
Although various seminar components also dealt with conflict regions outside the Middle East, a special seminar block was dedicated to provide insights into the current situation in Syria. A discussion on the topic “Negotiated Peace in Syria?” focused on the UN-facilitated Syria Talks in Geneva and was led by the diplomat and Middle East expert Katharina Lack, Special Assistant to the Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
Taking a look into the future, the KAAD scholars Yara Moualla and Sana Kassouha presented their research interests: the preservation of intangible cultural heritage and its importance for the cultural identity and various strategies for reconstructing war-ravaged cities such as the Syrian city of Homs.
Various restoration strategies were visualized during a reconstruction-focused tour through Berlin. It ended with a visit to the historical premises of the German development bank KfW (“Reconstruction Credit Institute”) situated in the pre-World War II bank district of Berlin.
This year, from 25th to 29th May the 100th “Katholikentag” (Catholic Congress) was held in Leipzig. This was a great opportunity for KAAD to once again hold a seminar within this framework and at the same time present itself in the public sphere of the Catholic Church in Germany. 40 scholars visited podiums about “Science and Religion – Can faith and knowledge complement each other?”, which were offered by the programme of the “Katholikentag” (e.g. about technological possibilities of reproductive medicine, or about the Christian responsibility in the dispute over human dignity and human rights). The group also visited numerous events that had to do with the international contacts of the German Catholics, particularly with the Global South. The “international mass” was a particular highlight in this as well as the reception afterwards which is hosted by the Catholic aid agencies in Germany. For the KAAD group – composed of scholars from all continental departments – it was important to hold daily meetings in order to reflect about the many discussions, impressions and experiences made. The group was guided by Dr. Marko Kuhn, Head of Africa Department at KAAD and Fr. Prof. Dr. Ulrich Engel OP, Chaplain for KAAD.
The open culture of discussion, the panels attended by theologians and politicians, bishops and scholars – all that was very impressive for the KAAD-participants. They particularly noted the fact that this large and diverse meeting is headed by a council of lay Catholics in Germany. Another source of great astonishment was the so-called “Church Mile”, where a multitude of different church groups and initiatives presented themselves in booths and tents.
The liveliness of the presentations, concerts and actions during the “Katholikentag” showed a very different image of the German church, otherwise often seen by the scholars as not very vibrant. KAAD itself was also represented with a booth at the “Church Mile”. This on one hand offered the many visitors the opportunity to learn about the scholarship and educational programme of KAAD, on the other hand it gave a chance to the scholars to represent KAAD by means of talking about their biographies and studies.
Highlights for KAAD group were the atmospheric central masses at Augustusplatz, a morning prayer with the KSG Leipzig and then a visit to the KSG premises, the interaction with leaders and bishops from the Global South (e.g. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana / the Vatican) and the very unusual mass service of Cusanuswerk in the East Hall of the Leipzig Railway Station.
The theme of the seminar KAAD (science and religion) intertwined in an enriching way with the motto of the Katholikentag: “Seht, da ist der Mensch” (“Behold the man”).
Katholischer Akademischer Ausländer-Dienst
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