KAAD at the Cusanuswerk Annual Conference 2023

|   Aktuelles, Veranstaltungen

With around 750 scholars, alumni and guests, the Cusanuswerk held its annual conference in Baarlo near Venlo (Netherlands) from June 2nd to 4th. The theme of the gathering was: "The Power of Helping - the Importance of Voluntary Commitment" and took place in cooperation with KAAD.

Like KAAD, Cusanuswerk is a scholarship organization of the German Catholic Church – while Cusanuswerk focuses mainly on German beneficiaries, KAAD caters for foreign students.

The topical focus of the conference was on one of the essential elements of a successful civil society: volunteering. Together with the participants, experts from academia and church organizations, the corporate world, politics, culture and media discussed the social and individual importance of helping and volunteering. KAAD was represented by eleven scholars from seven countries (Egypt, China, Georgia, Kenya, Philippines, Uganda, Ethiopia), who each reflected on their own 'culture of helping' and brought this reflection as their contribution to the annual conference. One of the eight conference forums was organized by KAAD and its participants. Under the facilitation of Dr. Marko Kuhn, head of department at KAAD, scholars from Uganda, Kenya and China spoke about topics such as ‘White Saviorism’ and the dynamics of ('development') aid between the Global South and North. Cultural differences in the motives of helping came to the fore as well as the relationships that arise through international voluntary services, in the context of which e.g. young people from Germany come to African countries. There was an intensive exchange with the Cusanuswerk participants, which also focused on their own experiences from voluntary services in the Global South.

The spiritual program at the annual conference played an equally important role for the KAAD scholars – particularly the prayer services and the central mass at the end. Here the international guests experienced what spirituality can mean for young Catholics in Germany today, especially since they do not have this experience in most 'normal' church services in the parishes where they live. In two separate meetings, the KAAD participants were able to reflect on these experiences and delved deeper into the topic of the conference. Differences in the culture of helping were also discussed, as was one's own motivation for volunteering. Together with about 700 Cusanuswerk beneficiaries, the KAAD group left the Netherlands on Sunday – with new friends, new inspiration and important insights.