Creating a new world

Anniversary conference in Bonn: One step closer to the dream

Passionate, optimistic and full of courage – these are all words to describe the scholarship holders from DAAD’s Development-Related Postgraduate Courses programme as they presented their journey with the Millennium Express at the beginning of the anniversary conference in Bonn. The young individuals are spreading their commitment for a better world to countries around the globe.

The way Rocio Juliana Herrera from Argentina, Johanes Agbahey from Benin and Mayra Herrera from El Salvador spoke about the workshops in Dresden, Freiburg, Dortmund, Berlin, Suderburg, Flensburg and Hannover in front of a large audience was impressive – their presentation was full and energy, humorous and infectiously upbeat. With participants from all around the world, each and every station was like a mini world summit. Together they chipped away at some of our greatest challenges – such as water and energy supply – and explored new ways of moving forward.

“We shared our idea for solutions with people from completely different cultural and professional backgrounds,” recalled Mayra Herrera from the DAAD-sponsored Utilities and Waste programme at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). “This kind of exchange makes the process of finding answers to our world’s problems complete.”

Lively network already in place

The films, photographs and posters on display at the Bonn conference illustrated the commitment that went into the workshop series on the part of the participating young professionals from emerging and developing countries. The impact of the Millennium Express and the experiences it fostered will be long-lasting. Students who were unable to attend the workshops were briefed by fellow students who did participate. This input, in turn, enriched the various Master’s degree programmes. Mayra Herrera is sure she will stay in touch with the people she met through the Millennium Express. “We’ve already built a very lively network.”

Key to the future

“It was truly special and very important to have met people from other programmes,” says Álvaro Bustamante, who studies Small Enterprise Promotion and Training at the Universität Leipzig. “It’s a smart idea to bring people together with different ways of seeing things to work on a common problem – it’s the key to the future,” says the native Chilean. “Revolving the workshop around the Millennium Goals was central to its success, because the goals are something everyone could relate to.”

An impressed Nobel laureate

The spark that was ever so apparent among the young professionals from around the globe during the Millennium Express also caught hold among DAAD representatives, event coordinators and conference guests. “The students created an entirely new world during their journey,” said DAAD Secretary General Dorothea Rüland. For Anwar Fazal, recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, it’s a world that is encouraging. “I am so inspired by these young individuals – how they work together, communicate with one another and yearn to understand each other,” said the winner of the alternative Nobel Prize in Bonn. This kind of work on worldwide issues, he pointed out, is a sign that our world has a future. “These individuals have the kind of solidarity that’s needed to make the world a better place.”

For Ursula Müller, department head at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the students are a fine indicator for the effectiveness of the funding line. “What you learn in Germany has to be relevant for you and your country,” she said. Müller sees this as the prerequisite for creating a situation based on equality, where all parties benefit, one that enables everyone to come together and work on the global challenges both politically and economically. The BMZ funds the DAAD’s “Development-related Postgraduate Courses” programme.

Professionalism honed

For Mayra Herrera there’s more to Millennium Express than the exchange on global issues. “To be able to present one’s own ideas to a group in a professional and convincing manner is a big deal.” She was able to hone those skills during the organisation of the workshop series. As the Bonn conference showed, she was very successful. “This will also help me down the road in my career,” says the native El Salvadorian. She is now one step closer to her goal: “I dream about working not just for my own well-being – my work should create new opportunities and benefit the community.”

Read also:
The five sparks for change – interview with Anwar Fazal, recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize

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