FRANKly 2024: Call for Articles

The FRANKly is the annual journal of the German Fulbright Alumni Association. In addition to reporting on the association’s regional, national, and international activities, the publication serves as a platform for current Fulbrighters and alumni from the ‘One Fulbright Community’ to share your fascinating experiences, witty opinions, unique perspectives, and thoughtful insights.

The 2024 Call for Articles is here and we are thrilled to announce this year’s theme: Navigating Crossroads

Crossroads in Udine, Province of Udine, Italy. Photo by Gabriele Tirelli on Unsplash.
Crossroads in Udine, Province of Udine, Italy. Photo by Gabriele Tirelli on Unsplash.

Everyday, we find ourselves at crossroads requiring us to make choices. Some are small and have little impact on our lives. Others change us forever, like taking a new job or going abroad and immersing ourselves in a new culture. And others yet again resonate throughout the world.

The FRANKly 2024 welcomes contributions that explore different crossroads, big and small, and the creative and brave ways we can navigate them. What is the significance of conscious choice for you and what does this mean in the world we live in? What are the crossroads you personally find yourself at? And what are the lessons we can learn from them?

The crossroads we have to navigate in 2024 seem endless. Wars and conflicts, the many grievances within our societies and the ever-present threat of the climate crisis create within us the wish for peace and stability, for justice and equality. How can our choices contribute to bringing these about, changing the world for the better? With another U.S. as well as European Parliament elections and others ahead of us, the question of making decisions becomes very straightforward. The choices we will make will impact not just the transatlantic world, but the world at large. Recent attacks on our democratic order have shown that merely living in democracies is not enough to keep them alive. We need to recognize the importance our everyday choices have in both making our societies more resilient as well as in shaping our own lives. We need to see the crossroads we are facing and do our best to navigate them.

Articles exhibiting a connection to the expansive ‘One Fulbright Community’ from across the globe are welcome, as are articles with creative approaches of how our main theme resonates with you personally. When submitting your article, please provide 2-3 sentences about yourself in third person and a headshot. Authors are encouraged to submit images (3-6 images) that support their article, including the photographer’s name and a caption. Articles may range in length from 3,000-12,000 characters (including spaces) and should be written in American English.

The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2024. Please send all questions, ideas, and contributions to Jana Frey via email at

Your Editorial Team,

Jana Frey and Vera Fuller

Why true Impact needs Hype Culture

By Isabelle Rogat

Let me take you with me on a small dream-like journey through our Marketing World and how it plays a role in, well, building brighter futures.

 thjnk Zeitgeist, the Trend & Gen Z Consultancy from thjnk. Anesa Lokvancic, Isabelle Rogat, Ula Abu Allel & Marie Schablitzky
thjnk Zeitgeist, the Trend & Gen Z Consultancy from thjnk. Anesa Lokvancic, Isabelle Rogat, Ula Abu Allel & Marie Schablitzky

A fever dream, but still – a dream.
So close your eyes (metaphorically) and lean back (literally)…

You are a sneaker.
(Yup, never thought you’d read those words in a FRANKly, but here we are.)
You’ve descended from the mind of a London Designer, fueled by oat milk latte, traveled to the hands of a Bangladeshi factory worker, were shipped over 2 oceans, 3 railroads and one rather rough-handling UPS driver to a New York Showroom in Manhattan.

You are more internationally traveled than the buying agent AND sales rep combined.
You cost 295$ and made up of 40$ worth of material.
You – are supposed to become the next big thing.
By the second that you arrive in the 12th floor Manhattan Showroom in your full beauty, you are being swarmed by TikTok-swiping, Adidas Samba-wearing Marketeers with the most creative of ideas to not only bring you into the shelves of this world, but into the hearts & feeds.
“How about a moving Online Video campaign, in which we position you as the footwear of the brave, showing world changers of 2023 proudly strutting in style?”
“What if we created a TikTok Challenge, using you as the modern version of the Cinderella shoe needing to find its owner?”
“Maybe we could create a digital version of you and place you in games like Fortnite?”

Cut. New dream.
Now, you are an NGO fighting gendered crime.
Or a political policy trying to further transatlantic understanding.
Or the 1.5 degree goal.
You’d been standing on the street with a megaphone and a 20 page, well-researched, factually correct – but sadly, quite boring – speech script. As a matter of fact, you could swear you saw the marketeers from your first dream pass by you on their way to buy the fake cinderella crown for their TikTok.
They didn’t notice you though, you were just going off about the statistics of some regulation – and also, you were facing in the wrong direction.
One marketing student helped you design some flyers, but their time & stock image royalty only amounted to a poorly lit image of you holding your speech with a comic sans headline. With a spelling mistake.
One person stood in front of your speech and clapped.
It was your working student.
Somewhere in the back, crickets chirping.

Now you wake up.
What you’ve just endured wasn’t just a very unfortunate use of your dream time (and by that, rather hard to explain to your therapist) – but the central marketing dilemma preventing us from advancing to those futures we’re reading about in this FRANKly. The unequal distribution of true, cutting edge creativity.

Because if we think about what moves our public opinion, our hypes, our trends – it’s never been what is most important. Most highly produced. Or even most aesthetic.
What creates queues in front of “Live Fast Die Young” stores is the same thing missing in furthering gender equality. What currently sells out Taylor Swift Tour shows in our cinemas is the same thing that is missing when we try to get people to fight against climate change.

Creative Ideas.
Innovative narratives separating what the core of the issue is and what it is being wrapped in.
Finding ways to bring this state of the art commercial creativity to our socio-economical, political and ecological challenges will be at the center of how Marketing can truly create a brighter future for us.
That’s what I’ve founded “thjnk Zeitgeist” for, a Trend & Innovation Creative Consultancy within the thjnk group.
That’s why for all Fulbrighters, we can be easily reached via Whatsapp (+49 40 41 34 99 34) and why I will always aim to use creativity for good.
Because who says, it’s always the sneaker being charmed by marketeers.
Why not the sneaker AND the policy?

So: If you are a Fulbrighter or Alumni pushing forward change in your organization, your party or your personal projects and you are looking to elevate your novel goals to public hype: Feel free to call, text, voice memo.
Let’s build a brighter future, 2023-style.

Author Info

Photo and Headshot of Isabelle Rogat by Frieda Maelle
Photo and Headshot by Frieda Maelle

Isabelle Rogat is a true marketing chameleon, having recently founded a Trend & Gen Z Hub in her Agency thjnk. At 25, she is not only working on building more “new age competence” in the advertising industry, but also a 40 under 40, columnist, podcast host and youngboard member. Ever since she has participated in a Fulbright Summer School at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, she has been closely associated with the program.

Data for a Brighter Future

by Jan Moellmann

I believe in the power of technology, entrepreneurship and our agency as humans to build a brighter future. The rise of impact investing and impact entrepreneurship is a great expression of this. More and more people are using their talent, time and resources to work on a sustainable future, acknowledging that there is more at stake than just money. Impact investing and entrepreneurship are both trying to generate intentional and measurable positive social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. However, the difficulty faced by these actors is that there is a lack of data that would help to identify, incentivize and manage impact in a transparent, credible and efficient way.

 leonardo co-founders Samuel Khew, Jasper Klemm and Jan Moellmann (from right to left) try to disrupt the status quo of sustainability data through a software solution that enables social entrepreneurs to measure and report their impact; photo: Katrin Klemm
leonardo co-founders Samuel Khew, Jasper Klemm and Jan Moellmann (from right to left) try to disrupt the status quo of sustainability data through a software solution that enables social entrepreneurs to measure and report their impact; photo: Katrin Klemm

Most, if not all, things that scaled extraordinarily well over the last decades were based on the availability of data that was then used for data-driven decision-making. Maximizing something requires measuring this something – be it user engagement for Facebook, delivery times for instant delivery services or simply financial returns for an asset manager. Now, what we need to scale fast to avoid collapse and to work towards a future in which the planet and people thrive is positive impact; hence, we need to measure this impact. If we would have the right data available, it would be possible to make better consumer decisions, to manage by impact objectives, to incentivize impact through regulation and even to bake impact into financial products to make sure that impact-generating enterprises have access to the funding they need to realize and scale their projects and products.

Unfortunately, measuring impact is not an easy task. I have been there. Working for a social enterprise on rural electrification in West Africa, I knew how valuable it would be to measure and communicate not only how many of our customers gained access to electricity, but also what this access to electricity means in terms of socio-economic development such as productivity increases, women empowerment, safety as well as access to healthcare and education. At the same time, it was difficult to gather this data. A typical social enterprise does not have scientists who understand how to collect such data accurately and also not software and data teams who could take care of a streamlined data pipeline for ongoing impact monitoring and reporting. Some digital solutions exist that approximate impact based on secondary data, i.e. forecasting impact based on similar projects. But is it really accurate, helpful, transparent or even morally acceptable to judge impact without measuring it where it actually occurs? I find this approach particularly concerning when it comes to assessing social impact: If we want to understand which products and projects actually change the lives of people for the better, we better collect the data at the source by asking the people whose lives we aim to improve.

After witnessing these challenges first-hand and talking to dozens of other social entrepreneurs who faced similar problems, I decided to start a software company in 2022 that supports impact-driven organizations and their capital providers in measuring, verifying and reporting their true impact. At leonardo, we try our best to measure sustainability where sustainability effects actually occur and then to use this data to empower impact-driven management and investment decisions. You can find more information about leonardo at 

Logo by: leonardo. impact GmbH
Logo by: leonardo. impact GmbH

Technology plays a key role here: Large language models can be used for verifying, understanding and utilizing large amounts of interview data; the blockchain can be used for storing and transmitting impact data in a transparent and traceable way as well as tokenizing impact to make it invest- and tradeable. At the end of the day, though, it is not about the technology or data itself, but about using it for the right purposes. We need to stop wasting our talent, time and resources working on things that will only benefit one’s own bank account. We need to use technology and business to work on the things that matter. A brighter future is possible if we start building it together.

Author Info

Jan Moellmann
Headshot: by Katrin Klemm

Jan Moellmann is co-founder & CEO @ leonardo. impact and a doctoral candidate @ TU Munich. leonardo aims to make deep impact measurement, verification and reporting easy and credible. After 4 years as Finance Director of the social startup Africa GreenTec and while conducting research about the topic as a doctoral candidate at TUM, he discovered the great value that trustworthy impact data has for sustainability-focused enterprises, but also how hard it is to get this data – leading him to co-found leonardo. Jan holds Master’s degrees in Engineering Management from TU Braunschweig and Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech where he spent one year in Atlanta on a Fulbright scholarship. He and his wife Lena live in Frankfurt, Germany, and love to hike and bike through mountains whenever they get the chance.

Embracing Diversity: Fulbrighters with Disabilities’ Unwavering Commitment

by Geghie Davis-Tillie

copy-edited by Itto Outini


Fulbrighters with Disabilities
Logo by: FWD

What enters the average person’s mind in response to the phrase “diversity and inclusion”? For some, these words may conjure up images of corporate boardrooms ticking off checkboxes. For others, they may call to mind well-intentioned policymakers striving to create more welcoming professional atmospheres. In reality, however, these words ought to evoke more than corporate policies. They are ideals whose realization demands consideration of the vast and vivid tapestry of human experiences, abilities, and perspectives that occur throughout the world.

Consideration of this tapestry – and with it, the commitment to diversity and inclusion that it inspires – animates Fulbrighters with Disabilities (FWD), a global, virtual chapter of the Fulbright Association.

FWD is the first chapter of the Fulbright Association to focus on supporting students and scholars with disabilities. To this end, we’ve embraced a virtual model to increase our global reach and foster national, cultural, geographical, linguistic, and ethnic diversity without requiring that people with limited mobility travel long distances, live away from their families, or forsake their local support systems. This, we believe, is an essential strategy for building a more diverse and inclusive future. Since our launch in 2021, we’ve made significant progress toward building a diverse, international community, advancing advocacy efforts, and collaborating with other chapters and partner organizations.

Our board consists of four members: President Geghie Davis-Tillie, Vice President Keegan Julius, Treasurer Istou Diallo, and Secretary Frank Mondelli. We all identify as people with disabilities. Our efforts are supported by the contributions of many wonderful volunteers. As a Neurodivergent woman with multiple invisible, physical disabilities, I consider it a privilege and honor to lead such an extraordinary team toward fulfilling our potential to contribute to the Fulbright community and better the world.

Advocacy Day at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., from left to right: Leland Lazarus, Geghie Davis-Tillie, President of FWD, Catherine Harbour, and Keegan Julius, Vice President of FWD; photo: Leland Lazarus.
Advocacy Day at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., from left to right: Leland Lazarus, Geghie Davis-Tillie, President of FWD, Catherine Harbour, and Keegan Julius, Vice President of FWD; photo: Leland Lazarus.

Our chapter’s founder, Itto Outini, worked long and hard to get FWD off the ground. A totally blind Fulbright alumna, journalist, writer, Steinbeck Fellow, and international public speaker, Itto has since gone on to launch her own international media platform, The DateKeepers, in partnership with her husband. Both projects reflect Itto’s commitment to elevating diversity and inclusion beyond the banal verbiage of the boardroom and bringing together individuals with diverse perspectives and abilities, from all walks of life and every corner of the globe, to strive together toward a common cause. Without Itto’s unwavering vigilance and dedication, neither our chapter nor The DateKeepers would be here today.

Itto Outini (left) and Mekiya Outini (right), founders of the DateKeepers; photo: Julia Walters
Itto Outini (left) and Mekiya Outini (right), founders of the DateKeepers; photo: Julia Walters

In 2022, a year after founding the chapter, Itto passed on the presidency of FWD to me. At the time, I’d just returned from my Fulbright in England and had connected with Itto via LinkedIn, where she was seeking scholars with disabilities to interview and profile. This encouraged me to share with her my stories from my time in England, including how the Fulbright Association and my university had helped me acquire official ADHD and dyslexia diagnoses and access therapy, which I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford. Spurred by the revelation that I’m Neurodivergent, and that there’s a vast community of Neurodivergent individuals all over the world, I ended up writing my thesis on sensory processing differences (SPD) and how implementing more accessible and inclusive design practices can help those of us with such conditions more easily navigate public spaces. Back in the U.S., I wanted to do more, deepening my engagement with the international Neurodivergent community while also giving back to the Fulbright Association. Sensing my passion, Itto encouraged me to take a leading role in FWD. 

This year, we attended Fulbright Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where we engaged with policymakers to secure Fulbright funding. In July, I had the honor of flying to London to attend the first Fulbrighter and Community Engagement Workshop, where over 30 Fulbright alumni and friends from all around the world gathered to brainstorm strategies for improving social connectivity. Possibly our proudest achievement has been our successful implementation of the first-ever sensory room at the Fulbright Association Conference in Denver – though speaking at the Youth Summit and participating in the table-top event are close runners-up.

Fulbrighters with Disabilities is more than a chapter. We are a movement united by the common vision of seeing diversity celebrated and inclusivity becoming the norm. Our commitment to pushing boundaries through advocacy, education, and innovation knows no bounds. As we advance toward the horizon, I hope FWD can serve our community as a guiding light illuminating paths toward a world where every thread of our diverse tapestry is recognized and celebrated and where no one is left behind.

For more information about Fulbrighters with Disabilities or the DateKeepers, please reach out by emailing the chapter at 

Author Info

Headshot: photo by Geghie Davis-Tillie
Headshot: photo by Geghie Davis-Tillie

Geghie Davis-Tillie is a human-centered designer with a focus in UX/UI East Tennessee in the U.S. She currently serves as President of the Fulbrighters with Disabilities chapter within the Fulbright Association. With a deep connection to her Appalachian heritage and her personal experience as someone with multiple invisible disabilities including Neurodivergence, Geghie brings a distinctive and multifaceted perspective to her storytelling, making it truly unique.

For more FRANKly articles from our 2023 magazine, look here!

The German-American Revolution

by Johannes Ehrmann

In July, 1776, America’s rebels formulated their universal ideals of freedom and humanity. German immigrants were crucial in disseminating them.

Buchcover: ggf. hinzufügen: “1. Auflage 2023, 320 Seiten, ISBN: 978-3-608-98718-8”
1. Auflage 2023, 320 Seiten, ISBN: 978-3-608-98718-8

In the early days of July, 1776, Philadelphia’s printing quarter was bustling with activity. Several printers along Second Street received express orders from the Continental Congress. The makeshift parliament of the 13 American colonies convened only a brief ten-minute-walk away in the Pennsylvania State House on Chestnut Street. On July 4, the delegates had voted on the finalized text of their Declaration of Independence.

Among the printers who worked overnight shifts were German-born Melchior Steiner and Charles Cist. Their task was the first and by far most important translation of the document. It was targeted at the vast number of German immigrants in the colonies. They were estimated to be 250,000 people or roughly ten percent of the population. In Pennsylvania, it was more than a third of people who spoke German as a first language.

The Germans were the largest non-English-speaking group of the colonies. It was crucial to win them over for the revolution if it was to have any success. Steiner and Cist were certainly aware of this. They had both been born in Europe. Cist came from a German family in St. Petersburg and had later studied medicine at Martin Luther University in Halle. Steiner was the son of a pastor from the German-speaking parts of Switzerland.

For his printing business, he sometimes used an Anglicized version of his surname: Styner. This helped gain him trust among the English, who still held some resentments against the Germans, these “Palatine boors,” as Philadelphia’s most prominent citizen, Benjamin Franklin, had once labeled them. Steiner’s partner had even made up an entirely new English-sounding surname from his initials: Carl Jacob Sigismund Thiel turned into CIST.

The two German printers worked on what was truly a revolutionary document. The concept that every human possessed certain inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, continues to shape our world to this day. The Declaration of Independence also marked the dawn of a new form of government and society. What Steiner and Cist meticulously typeset letter by letter in their printery on Philadelphia’s Second Street was nothing less than the foundation of modern democracy.

On July 5, the German-language newspaper Der Pennsylvanische Staatsbote was the first to report the news out of Philadelphia. It did not print the full text yet, which appeared in English a day later in the Pennsylvania Evening Post. Soon after, Steiner and Cist printed the first copy of their German translation. They had deliberately set it in Gothic type (Fraktur), the style of lettering that German readers of the time were used to.

Job well done: The rebels’ claims of liberty and self-government were now being distributed amongst the Germans also. But would they really give up English protection and risk the tentative wealth they had acquired just for some fiery ideals and the vague promise of a new form of government?

The most prominent German-American of his time was not so sure. Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg, the head of the Lutheran churches in the colonies, was a man of the old order. He had sworn allegiance to the king more than once, upon his arrival in Philadelphia and later, when he was naturalized as a British subject. And hadn’t this very king always ensured that preachers like Mühlenberg could freely practice their religion and build their churches? Just like the Apostle Paul had written to the Romans: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God.”

Simply put, Pastor Heinrich Mühlenberg had no idea what side of this bloody conflict God had chosen. So he could and would not decide himself either. But Mühlenberg was faced with a serious personal crisis: His own children started to defect from him to join the rebel cause.

Two of his sons would leave the Lutheran ministry and fight for the goals of the revolution. Friedrich or Frederick, his second-oldest son, would later become the first Speaker of the newly formed U.S. House of Representatives. And Peter, Mühlenberg’s eldest, was involved in the war from early 1776 when he formed a German regiment from his congregations in rural Virginia. Peter fought in Brandywine, in Germantown, and in Yorktown, where the war was decided in favor of the United States in 1783. He then became a Congressman as well.

The Mühlenberg sons were not an exception amongst German-Americans who fought against the British in great number. But their father continued to struggle with the path they had chosen. Their worldly careers seemed sacrilegious to him. The patriarch died in October 1787, just days after the U.S. Constitution was passed and sent to the 13 states for ratification. In Pennsylvania, where it was ratified quickly thanks to Frederick Mühlenberg, the text was then sent for printing: 3,000 English copies, 2,000 in German.

When father is arrayed against son … It was during my Fulbright year as a History student in Philadelphia that I first discovered this fascinating German-American family story. I was struck by the Mühlenberg’s deep generational conflict, by the schism between the old and the new world. My professor encouraged me to tell the story as my Master’s thesis. Almost 15 years later, I felt finally ready to turn it into a whole narrative non-fiction book. “Söhne der Freiheit” was published this fall by Klett-Cotta in Germany.

Why is this story of almost 250 years still relevant today? In fact, the ideals of July 4 – freedom, equality, self-government – have not aged a day. They continue to be fought for, in Europe, America, and elsewhere. No doubt, the spirit of 1776 is very well and alive. It is guiding us into a better future.

Johannes Ehrmann
Headshot by Manfred Esser

Johannes Ehrmann, born 1983, is a contributing editor with ZEIT ONLINE and the author of several non-fiction books. After studying North American Studies at FU Berlin’s John F. Kennedy Institute, he graduated with an M.A. degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 2007 where he studied as a Fulbright grantee. “Söhne der Freiheit” is his fifth book (ISBN: 978-3-608-98718-8).

For more FRANKly articles from our 2023 magazine, look here!

Mersedeh Ghazaei wins Mulert Award 2023 with her exhibition “WIR SIND HANAU“ in Stuttgart

We are excited and honored to award this year’s Mulert Award to Mersedeh Ghazaei, 2022 Fulbright Diversity Program Alumna from Stuttgart, for her exceptional “WIR SIND HANAU” exhibition and for her tireless work as a voluntary human rights activist. In the following, Mersedeh describes the shocking right-wing attack in Hanau in 2020 and her efforts in arranging the “WIR SIND HANAU” exhibition and panel discussions to remember the third anniversary of the attack.

Mersedeh Ghazaei receiving the 2023 Mulert Award at the German Fulbright Alumni Association’s Spring Ball on March 25, 2023 in Hamburg, Germany
Mersedeh Ghazaei receiving the 2023 Mulert Award at the German Fulbright Alumni Association’s Spring Ball on March 25, 2023 in Hamburg, Germany

February 19th 2020 – a truly horrible, deeply saddening and life-changing day for many people in Germany. A right-wing, racist extremist shoots 9 immigrants in the city of Hanau, proceeds to kill his own mother and then shoots himself. The country was in shock, it was hard to believe what had taken place that cold Wednesday night. But not only did this heartbreaking event cause a wave of empathy, solidarity and new power in activist work, it also brought a deep divide and much controversy. While most political promises of more preventive work and efforts to effectively fight racism and fascism in Germany proved to be empty words years later, we activists still stand and demand justice for what happened.

Did you know the offender’s father is still harassing the loved ones and families of the ones killed, as well as the survivors? There are so many more things that make the Hanau shooting almost a storybook example for the many things that are not right in Germany. Before the events took place, during the night of the attack as well as after – many things that should never have happened, happened. The emergency exit was ordered to be locked months earlier, without any logical explanation. The perp had mailed the Hanau Police Department multiple times, speaking of his hateful plans to rid Germany of immigrants, he even had a YouTube channel where he published his manifesto – how was this not taken seriously? In the night of the attack, almost all of the distress calls to the police station were not answered, an issue that to this day has not been taken care of. Officers were overwhelmed, they even accused help-seeking survivors of being part of the crime and took their sweet time helping the wounded that died later on.

A couple of months later it was revealed that 13 of the officers on duty that night were part of an extreme right-wing network in Germany, in which talking about white supremacy and annihilating “the others” was part of the daily order. In this cold, devastating night of the attack, families and loved ones of the murdered did not know for hours that their children were dead and where their children’s dead bodies were. Autopsies were performed on many of them without the permission or knowledge of their families, which begs the question: why do you need to perform an autopsy after a shooting, isn’t the cause of death clear? Even after this gruesome night, it does not stop: the Initiative 19. Februar Hanau has put together these facts and much more relevant information on their website. I can urge anyone to take their time and to really read through these findings.

Mersedeh Ghazaei and Kaan Genc of Migrantifa Stuttgart opening the exhibition on February 19th 2023 (picture by Migrantifa Stuttgart)
Mersedeh Ghazaei and Kaan Genc of Migrantifa Stuttgart opening the exhibition on February 19th 2023 (picture by Migrantifa Stuttgart)

After this gruesome attack, many immigrants have had it – we need to act, we need to demand change and to work towards a future in which something like this could never happen again. I myself remember it being a big turning point in my life, I have not felt safe anymore since then and I do not think I will ever again. A nationwide movement named “Migrantifa” was born, a wordplay composed of the German word “Migranten” meaning immigrants and “antifa”, an abbreviation for anti-fascism. This movement, consisting of immigrants that fight actively against fascism, racism and generally against any form of discrimination, has risen from the ashes of the damage done by the Hanau shooting. Back in June 2020, the Migrantifa Stuttgart was founded and I have been a part of it since the very beginning. By reminding ourselves and others of the gruesome events in Germany’s history, which did not just disappear after the Shoah, we aim to show people that fighting against racism is a constant process and an absolute necessity. Even if Germany does seem like a safe country for immigrants with mild issues of societal racism, the factual truth is that racism is deeply rooted in Germany’s past, present – and future if we continue like this. It is especially severe in institutions and establishments but also in the educational as well as healthcare systems and also very prevalent in rural communities. Current voting trends show the racist, right-wing AfD (Alternative for Germany party) in second place, which is a scary remnant reviving our fascist background. The number of attacks against Muslim and Jewish communities, ethnic communities and minorities as well as violence against queer* individuals is breathtakingly sad.

For the third anniversary of the Hanau shooting in Stuttgart, many individuals wanted a light-projection with the faces of the 9 murdered individuals in public. Stuttgart’s mayor declined, saying something along the lines of Hanau has nothing to do with Stuttgart, it’s in another federal state. We as activists in Stuttgart were enraged to say the least because Hanau is everywhere – a slogan that has been spreading in Germany since the attacks, to show solidarity. To our mayor, this might not be the case, but to us immigrants, children of immigrants, refugees, to those of us who feel racism on a regular basis, to those of us who are afraid to walk around freely, it doesn’t matter if it happened in Stuttgart, Hanau, Berlin or anywhere else. The fact is: this could have happened anywhere. So what we did was to arrange an exhibition called WIR SIND HANAU / WE ARE HANAU to show once and for all that what happened in Hanau matters, everywhere in Germany. On the third anniversary of the attack we opened our exhibition, followed by a couple of events and panel discussions in February and March. The exhibition was housed in the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart – one of the oldest and most renowned art associations in the world – from February 19th until April 9th. Amongst the many panels, our highlight was definitely our panel on April 2nd in cooperation with the Bildungsinitiative Ferhat Unvar, founded by Serpil Temiz Unvar, mother of the murdered Ferhat Unvar. We came together to discuss ways to stand and fight together instead of letting division stand in the way of our goals.

All in all, we feel that the message really arrived in Stuttgart and we plan to continue our work. We are also very glad that the light projection was financed and conducted by other organizations in Stuttgart after all, although we are still very enraged by our mayor turning it down. The fact that all of this gets space in this very magazine, that you, dear reader, are reading this right now, shows that our work is not for nothing – we can only hope that we reach as many people as possible. It does not matter if you experience racism yourself or if you don’t. What really matters is fighting against discrimination, racism, fascism and oppression. Let’s fight for a better world, together!

In loving memory of Gökhan Gültekin, Sedat Gürbüz, Said Nesar Hashemi, Mercedes Kierpacz, Hamza Kurtović, Vili Viorel Păun, Fatih Saraçoğlu, Ferhat Unvar and Kaloyan Velkov ( † February 19th 2020, Hanau, Germany)

Visitors on the day of the opening of the exhibition on February 19th 2023 (picture by Migrantifa Stuttgart)
Visitors on the day of the opening of the exhibition on February 19th 2023 (picture by Migrantifa Stuttgart)
Visitors looking at the exhibition during an interactive tour on February 26th 2023 (picture by Migrantifa Stuttgart)
Visitors looking at the exhibition during an interactive tour on February 26th 2023 (picture by Migrantifa Stuttgart)

Mersedeh Ghazaei was born in Southern Germany in 1997 as a child of Iranian immigrants and is a 2022 Fulbright Diversity Program Alumna. Mersedeh is currently finishing her Bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy to become a teacher and will continue with English and American Studies for her Master’s degree. Mersedeh is a voluntary human rights activist with a strong focus on anti-racist and intersectional feminism, a member of the Migrantifa Stuttgart, co-founder of the Initiative Iranian Women* of Stuttgart and social media manager for the Local Diversity Stuttgart association. This year, Mersedeh has published her first book “verwurzelter körper, entwurzelter kopf”, which deals with the experience of growing up between two different cultures as a child of immigrants in Germany. In the future, Mersedeh aims to further pursue her fight for human rights, gender equality as well as educational equality and to also focus on countries outside the western, Eurocentric world.

How Can We Create a Better Future?

Beyond Material Wealth: Does Simplicity Elevate the Soul to Happiness?

by Annabella Kadavanich

Photos: Omer Maayan

In a world full of possibilities, creating a better future is not a distant dream; it is a responsibility shared by us all. The magic lies in the fact that each and every one of us holds the power to make a difference starting right now. In this article, we set out on a journey of self-discovery, exploring how anyone and everybody can individually contribute to a brighter tomorrow and, equally important, how we may support the next generation, ensuring a lasting legacy through the transformative power of education.

Rich Hearts of Cambodia: Embracing Happiness in Simplicity

As I invite you on a magical journey to a land where time dances to the rhythm of simplicity, I hope that this story serves you as a reminder of your potential to bring positive change in the future. In the heart of Cambodia, where the sun casts a golden glow over the landscape, a touching tale of how to find true happiness unveils. In a remote village near Phnom Penh, young children go on a long journey every day, walking 10 kilometers to reach their school. These kids must face the harsh truth that their families lack the resources to enjoy the luxury of a tasty breakfast at home. Therefore, they stop along the way to skilfully climb mango trees so they can have a quick and filling meal before school.

During the summer months, many of them decide to skip school in order to assist their parents with the difficult but necessary chore of harvesting rice, giving up the opportunity of a better future for themselves. Some people might assume that these families don’t have a lot of wealth. But the truth runs deeper, and their richness lies in the depths of their hearts.

For these Cambodian children and their family, life is an exercise in finding happiness and fulfillment in even the most simple conditions. They understand that true happiness is not related to the abundance of material possessions, but comes from a profound connection with the land, the community, and the bond they share with one another. They are filled with gratitude for all the little wonders life gives them each day.

During my time in Cambodia, the volunteers loved gathering alongside the children under the vast canvas of stars. Laughter and stories filled the air, filling the night with the kind of warmth that money cannot buy. I remember the children’s eyes sparkling with hope, and their spirits dancing with dreams, embracing life’s challenges with unwavering strength and a magical belief in the beauty of simplicity.

Collective Impact: Together, We Create a Brighter Future for Cambodian Children
Collective Impact: Together, We Create a Brighter Future for Cambodian Children

In the stillness of twilight, they lay their heads on beds of dreams, knowing that despite the challenges they face, they are rich beyond measure in the wealth that truly matters – the wealth of love, compassion, and a happiness that radiates from within.

“Happiness is the foundation upon which we build the most beautiful future.” – James Allan

In Cambodia’s embrace, we learn an invaluable lesson, that true riches lie not in the grandeur of possessions, but in the richness of our heart. And as the sun rises on another day, may we carry this wisdom with us, cherishing the little moments, finding joy in simplicity, and recognizing that during the journey of life, true happiness blooms within us all.

So how can we create a better future?

In the attempt of building a better tomorrow, we recognize the complexity of this question, acknowledging that there is no singular answer.

While you are in the pursuit of a brighter tomorrow for our world, it’s important to recognize that creating a better future begins with the simplest of steps we take today. Take a moment to appreciate the small blessings in your life – the morning breakfast, the abundance of groceries in your fridge, the privilege of education. Instead of becoming entangled by materialism, get off your phone and focus on building genuine connections with those around you.

The future is brightest when we embrace the simplicity of happiness in every moment
The future is brightest when we embrace the simplicity of happiness in every moment

Above all, I encourage you not to simply read these words and let them fade into the background. The time for action is now, today. Within each of us resides the power to shape an extraordinary future, and it all begins with finding inner happiness. As you unlock this inner radiance, you’ll become a lighthouse, guiding the way towards a profoundly magnificent tomorrow. So, let these words be your catalyst for meaningful change, and let us embark on this journey together, towards a brighter future we create with every step we take.

Author Info:


Headshot by Alexandra Boldanova
Headshot by Alexandra Boldanova

Annabella is a former Fulbright scholar from Germany who is currently living her dream life in Orlando, Florida. Her diverse experiences include three months of dedicated volunteering at an orphanage in Cambodia, and she is passionate about sharing the heartwarming memories of that journey with the world.

For more FRANKly articles from our 2023 magazine, look here!

Reimagining Transatlantic Bridges for a Brighter Future

Organizing the Transatlantic Alumni Conference 2023 

By Andreas Dewald

All the participants of the TAC in Erfurt, Germany

It all started back in July 2022, when alumni of the German American Alumni (GAA) network came together in Berlin and decided to plan the second Transatlantic Alumni Conference (TAC). In August 2022, the planning team met for the first time to map out the road to TAC 2023. What followed were months of hard work from many motivated alumni from different alumni associations. Every other Sunday and on many days in between the planning team came together to organize all the different aspects, ranging from logistics, to speakers, to our event website etc. 

Following the call to “reimagine transatlantic bridges for a brighter future” we were happy to see a great turnout of over 110 participants from both sides of the Atlantic coming to Erfurt and Berlin for an exciting program over 3.5 days. The main program in Erfurt featured inspiring keynote speeches, panels and interactive sessions around the topics of Diversity, Geopolitics, Sustainability, and Digitalization. Participants were also invited to the U.S. Embassy where they met Ambassador Gutmann and had the chance to visit the Bundestag in Berlin. 

Particpants on stage at the TAC in Erfurt, Germany

What made this conference special was the incorporation of our motto “from alumni for alumni” into all aspects of the conference. Our 19 speakers were almost all alumni from different German-American exchange programs, and we also featured alumni who are early in their careers to highlight the future of the transatlantic community and elevate our young alumni.

My passion for this wonderful opportunity to bring so many alumni together inspired me to invest a significant amount of time alongside my role as president. But of course, I wasn’t alone in this endeavor. The entire volunteer team played an essential role, and I am grateful for the collaboration and support. I want to extend my deepest appreciation to our alumni Jana Frey, Rózsa Simon, Alexander Rohlf, Allie Drexler and Jörg Geier for their contribution to making this conference a success.

Read the conference report here:

Our 2023 FRANKly is here

Are you ready to read the 34th edition of the FRANKly magazine?

Cover of our FRANKly magazine
The FRANKly is our yearly association publication, where our members and other Fulbrighters write articles on a particular theme.

This year’s theme is “Building a Brighter Future”, and includes articles on embracing diversity, deeper conversations, the German-American Revolution, Hype Culture, as well as a lot of activities from our members and board over the past year.

Take a peek inside. We’ll be sharing the articles individually here on our website, so that they are easier to read and share.

The 34th Edition of the FRANKly magazine: FRANKly34_2023

Thanksgiving Time

It’s November, so there’s bound to be a Fulbright Thanksgiving event in your area!
Foto von Amy Shamblen auf Unsplash
These areas are planning events. Feel free to follow the instructions or mail the organizers if you are interested in joining.

Berlin – The next event is just around the corner. We will celebrate Thanksgiving together and continue our tradition of having a true Thanksgiving dinner at the Hard Rock Café on Ku’Damm. Guests can order a traditional 2-course turkey menu or a vegetarian alternative (e.g. chestnut steak) individually but dine together on the first floor gallery reserved for our group. Therefore, please identify with “(FULBRIGHT)” behing your last name in the registration formregardless of your exact affiliation, so the staff can seat us together. Please reserve and pay the meals you would like to order for roughly 31€/menu before November 6th using the following information:
– Reservation Link:
– Date: 23.11.2023
– Zeit / Time: 18:30 (switch to subsequent time slots if not available anymore)
– Options: Thanksgiving – Dine in – 2 course Thanksgiving/Vegetarian/Kids menu
– First Name: XXX
– Last Name: YYY (FULBRIGHT)
Please don’t forget to fill in”(FULBRIGHT)” behind your last name (see attached Thanksgiving_How_to_Order.jpg for an example). This worked really well and we were given an entire section for ourselves the last two years . It is alsopossible to order à la carte instead (e.g. drinks only or vegan). In that case, please send me a mail with your name and your dinner preferences before November 6th, so I can reserve an additional table at 6:30pm for à la carte guests. Family and friends are also more than welcome to join – feel free to invite them and to add them to the “(FULBRIGHT)” crowd. Thank you very much!

Franken Erlangen – Wir treffen uns auf Selbstzahlerbasis am Samstag, den 4. November ab 19:00 Uhr im Hans Im Glück. Das Burger Restaurant ist in Erlangen zentral Hugenottenplatz (unweit vom Bahnhof) gelegen. Hier die genaue Adresse: Hauptstraße 20, 91054 Erlangen. Besonders schön wäre es, einige amerikanische Stipendiaten an unserm Tisch begrüßen zu können. – Désirée und Uwe

Frankfurt – Isabelle und Oliver haben freundlicherweise angeboten, Thanksgiving dieses Jahr wieder in ihrem Haus in Eppstein-Bremthal zu feiern. Daher laden wir zur Thanksgiving Party ein am Samstag, den 25. November. Der Turkey wird vor Ort zubereitet – für Turkey und Getränke wird ein Unkostenbeitrag eingesammelt – und die Gäste bringen Beilagen mit (zB Vorspeisen, Salat, Dessert, Sweet Potato, Kürbissuppe, Gemüse). Meldet euch gerne schon an – bitte verbindlich, damit wir wissen, wie viel Truthahn bestellt werden muss – und bitte bei Isabelle ( und mir. Bitte teilt auch gleich mit, was ihr mitbringt, und tragt das bitte auch in der Übersicht unter diesem Link ein, und ob eventuell Vegetarier unter euch sind, die kein Fleisch essen würden.

Köln/Bonn – Thanksgiving Dinner steht vor der Tür. Bitte merkt Euch schon einmal den Samstag, den 25. November 2023, um 18.00 Uhr für die gemeinsame Feier der rheinländischen Amerika-Vereine. Freundeskreis Köln-Indianapolis e.V.; Deutsch-Amerikanische Gesellschaft Köln e.V.
Unser beliebtes „Original American Thanksgiving Dinner“ findet am Samstag, den 25. November 2023, ab 18.00 Uhr nach der außerordentlich positiven Erfahrung im letzten Jahr auf vielfachen Wunsch wieder im Restaurant Consilium, Rathausplatz 1, Spanischer Bau 50667 Köln statt.
Das Consilium wurde kürzlich im Rahmen der Kulinarischen Akademie (Kabinett) für herausragende Leistungen in Küche und Service mit der Goldenen Pfeffermühle ausgezeichnet. Küchenchef Hans-Jürgen Becker persönlich bereitet folgende Menüfolge für Sie vor:

– Sekt-Aperitif zur Begrüßung
– Amerikanische Kürbissuppe mit Groûtons
– Truthahn „Thanksgiving“ mit Apfelmus, Cranberry-Relish, glasierten Karotten, Rosenkohl (honey and balsamico glazed) Stampfkartoffeln, Süßkartoffelpüree, „Stuffing“ und „Gravy“
– Pumpkin Pie mit Vanilleeis
– Abschlussüberraschung aus der Küche
Wichtig: Gerne wird eine vegetarische Alternative zum Truthahn serviert:
Samosas á part
Beteiligungspauschale diesmal: lediglich Euro 41,- pro Person (da von uns subventioniert) Tischgetränke werden separat abgerechnet (Bitte begleichen vor Verlassen des Lokals!)

Lassen Sie sich diese kulinarische Erfahrung nicht entgehen! Kommen Sie zahlreich und bringen Sie gerne Freunde mit, die gemütlich mit uns feiern wollen!

Die Überweisung der Beteiligungspauschale von Euro 41,- pro Person (Bitte bei Überweisung unbedingt alle Namen nennen!) auf das Konto des Freundeskreises IBAN
DE43 3705 0198 0100 0029 55 (Verwendungszweck: Thanksgiving 2023) bis zum 14. 11. 2023 gilt als verbindliche Anmeldung! Eine Rückmeldung ist nicht erforderlich.
Mit allen guten Wünschen und der Vorfreude darauf, Sie schon bald in angenehmen Rahmen begrüßen zu können,
Hartwig Prüßmann
Freundeskreis Köln-Indianapolis e.V.
Deutsch-Amerikanische Gesellschaft Köln e.V.

Mannheim – Liebe Regionalgruppe, bitte entschuldigt die ungewohnt kurzfristige Information: ich wurde gestern Abend von “unserem” traditionellen Thanksgiving-Restaurant Benjamin’s Diner in Mannheim-Käfertal darüber informiert, dass dieses Jahr doch noch ein kleines Special zu Thanksgiving geplant ist. Es wird zumindest ein “Thanksgiving-Plate“ geben mit einigen typischen Speisen, die man von Thanksgiving kennt. Es sollte also mehr werden als der Turkey-Burger vom letzten Jahr.

Ich habe sicherheitshalber für 4 Personen am Donnerstag, den 23.11.2023, für 19 Uhr einen Tisch reserviert. Falls jemand von Euch Interesse an der Teilnahme hat, bitte ich um Rückmeldung und verbindliche Anmeldung bis zum Dienstagmittag, 12:00 Uhr am 21. November. Anmeldung bitte ausschließlich unter: Sollten bis dahin mehr als 3 weitere Anmeldungen eingehen, bemühe ich mich gerne um einen größeren Tisch.

Benjamin`s Diner
Gorxheimer Straße 9
68309 Mannheim
Tel.: 0621 76 160 53
Ich würde mich freuen, wenn wir in diesem Jahr wieder gemeinsam Thanksgiving feiern könnten. Mit den besten Grüßen


München – In einem Monat ist Thanksgiving – höchste Zeit, sich einen Platz an unserem Tisch zu sichern! Wir feiern diesmal am 23.11.2023 ab 19 Uhr im Alten Wirt in Moosach: Alter Wirt Moosach, Dachauerstr. 274, 80992, München MVV: S1 oder U3 Moosach, Tram 20 Pelkovenstraße
Begrenzte Parkmöglichkeiten! Neben einem 3-Gang-Menu mit Kürbiscremesuppe, Roast Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberrysauce & American Cheesecake (vegetarische & vegane Menues bitte vorbestellen) werden wir auch All-American Music von Linda Jo Rizzo & Adam erleben. Manche kennen Linda vielleicht von der Election Night im Amerikahaus.
Wer am Donnerstag, 23.11.2023 nicht dabeisein kann, oder wem das zu teuer ist, der kann alternativ am Freitag ins HRC gehen. Anmeldung über diesen Link:

Stuttgart -Am Sonntag, den 3. Dezember, 18:30 Uhr . Ich würde wieder einen Tisch im Amadeus in Stuttgart reservieren, dort waren wir die vergangenen Jahre sehr zufrieden. Ich würde euch bitten, mir Bescheid zu sagen, ob ihr kommt, damit ich die ungefähre Gästezahl weis und entsprechend reservieren kann. Viele Grüße, Julian

FRANKly 2023: Call for Articles

The FRANKly is the annual journal of the German Fulbright Alumni Association. In addition to reporting on the regional, national, and international activities of our association, the publication serves as a platform for current Fulbrighters and alumni to share their fascinating experiences, witty opinions, unique perspectives, and thoughtful insights.

The 2023 Call for Articles is here and we are thrilled to announce this year’s theme:

Building a Brighter Future

We don’t know what exactly the future holds. But it is obvious that the path we are on is not headed to the promising future most of us would like to envision. The good news is that while “future” itself is inevitable, what version of the future will emerge is not: we all have a part to play in shaping the world of tomorrow and to ensure it is the best possible future for everyone.

The FRANKly 2023 welcomes contributions that explore visions of the future we can see ourselves living in and the building blocks needed to make it happen. What new approaches are necessary in order to tackle challenges such as climate change and sustainability, geopolitical imbalances, poverty, education, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility as well as the potential of the digital world while not forgetting about the place of culture and the arts in our societies. At the same time, our future isn’t just the big picture, but also our personal, more immediate future. Questions regarding financial security, healthcare, career possibilities as well the role of family, friends, and communities are at the forefront for a lot of us.

So. What can we do? How can we build a more resilient world in which everyone can feel a sense of belonging? What is the role of the transatlantic world and how can Fulbrighters, as one example, use their potential to have an impact? What can we do to build a brighter future?

Articles that exhibit a connection with the Fulbright Program, the German Fulbright Alumni Association (F.A.e.V.), or the network of Fulbright Alumni Associations across the globe are always encouraged, as are articles with creative approaches of how our main theme resonates with you personally. When submitting your article, please provide 2-3 sentences about yourself in third person and a headshot. Authors are encouraged to submit images (3-6 images total) that support their article. Every photograph must include the photographer’s name and a caption. Articles may range in length from 3,000 – 12,000 characters (including spaces) and should be written in American English.

The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2023. Please send all questions, ideas, and contributions to Jana Frey via email at

Jana Frey

Watts of Love

Stella and her daugther with their rum distillery. Photo by Sean Economoi
Stella and her daugther with their rum distillery. Photo by Sean Economoi

In 2009, Nancy Economou visited the Philippines, where she witnessed a young girl with her face burned by kerosene. She later learned that an overwhelming number of families do not have access to a safe and sustainable light source. Kerosene lamps serve as the only source of light after the sun goes down, making work, studying, and caring for children a challenging and often dangerous task. Furthermore, families worldwide spend up to a third of their income on toxic lighting sources, such as kerosene, paraffin, or batteries, which often get thrown into landfills, leeching toxic materials into local water sources. In 2013, she returned to the Philippines with innovative solar lighting units that could be carried with the users. Seeing that there was increased safety and health by removing kerosene from homes, and the financial freedom that comes with saving the money that would have been spent on lighting, Watts of Love was founded.

Malawian boy reading under multi-light. Photo: Kevin Kuster
Malawian boy reading under multi-light. Photo: Kevin Kuster

Watts of Love empowers those that we serve by helping them set goals and achieve their dreams while illuminating their paths with guiding light. Since 2013, we have distributed nearly 90,000 lights in 53 countries. In 2019, Watts of Love launched the Lighthouse model, our solution to scaling. Watts of Love intentionally seeks the most vulnerable people in the developing world, who live without access to sustainable light. We partner with in-country organizations and invest in local leaders to represent Watts of Love. Using a unique financial literacy curriculum, Watts of Love gently and compassionately instructs these recipients on how to save, invest and build for the future. We train entire communities on how to properly use the solar light and provide education on basic financial concepts such as compound savings and return on investment. We emphasize the significance of redirecting funds previously used to purchase kerosene or other dangerous light sources and investing their savings in livestock. We want our light recipients to be successful where they are, aiming for communities to create self-sufficiency and look to their community members for inspiration.

Multi-light. Photo by Sean Economou

And it’s working. Across the world, families are irrevocably changing. We are hearing stories of children who would have been sold into child marriage excelling to the top of their class, stories of single mothers starting their own businesses and the elder continuing to care for their families. In Malawi, Stella’s daughter received a light in September 2021. She brought the light and her new financial literacy home to teach Stella that they already had the money – their former battery money. Her daughter explained that if they saved their money, they could use it to buy things that will only increase their income, such as livestock. Stella realized, however, that she wants her money to work for her. So, she started a rum distillery in her yard, and now, she has employees. Her life, and the lives of her children, have forever been changed through financial literacy.

Batwa tribe in Uganda. Photo by Sean Economou
Batwa tribe in Uganda. Photo by Sean Economou

Watts of Love has lights in 53 countries around the world, but focus countries are Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, and the Philippines.

Find out more at

Watts of Love was introduced to Fulbright through a panel on human trafficking in early May.

By Kylee Hernandez

Nepalese Women holding multi-light. Photo by Kevin Kuster
Nepalese Women holding multi-light. Photo by Kevin Kuster

“Giving Back” as Social Action

As President of the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the German-American Fulbright Program e.V (VFF) and three-time Fulbrighter myself, I am committed to the future stability of the institution that changed my life and that of many others. In fact, in this position I work to increase financial and human resources that are essential to maintain and grow the programs that Fulbright offers, especially as government budgets are cut.

Fulbright Pulse Podcast with Jeff Peck.

Listen to the podcast with Alexandra Schaller and Dr.  Jeffrey M. Peck on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.  

Simultaneously, the attention that is finally being paid to underrepresented groups in Fulbright means that more and different kinds of people should be applying than ever before. Unfortunately, this inclusivity, as necessary and desirable as it is, may burden the system whose very task it is to create a more diverse environment. Aside from the sheer numbers, in my opinion it is ethically and morally responsible to make it possible for all people to be Fulbrighters, no matter what gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

While one would hope that the Fulbright experience – living and learning in another culture – would inspire “intercultural” awareness, more needs to be done to bring a “social conscience” into the mix. Fortunately, the self-reflexivity and self-awareness that comes with experiencing oneself as a “foreigner” provides a strong basis for triggering this kind of personal evolution.

But this is not always the case, and therefore, as someone dedicated to these goals, I found that encouraging beneficiaries to “give back” to such programs, such as Fulbright, or for that matter to other similar institutions from which one has benefitted academically, professionally or personally, is the right thing to do. Those on both sides of the equation – so to speak, the “givers” and the “receivers,” benefit substantially. A little can go a long way.

It is important to remember that the Fulbright experience only begins with the time abroad and continues long after, (some might say it even starts during the application and orientation process), hopefully for one’s entire lifetime. As a member of what we like to call the “one Fulbright Community” (the German-American Fulbright Commission, the German Fulbright Alumni Association e.V and the VFF), a “Fulbright family” of sorts, the experience can become a part of one’s own lifecycle extending and enriching in perpetuity. “Giving back” can actually be the essential structure of connecting and belonging to this one Fulbright Community. In short, being a Fulbrighter becomes the gift that keeps on giving!

For these reasons, I am now more than ever encouraging people to find an appropriate moment – often far after their actual stay abroad and later in their lifecycle – to give back to the institutions that have been instrumental in their lives. The most obvious way is financial, i.e. making a contribution of whatever amount that can be used to support other students, particularly in those groups who have been denied, hindered, or even not been aware of these possibilities. I think here of the VFF and Alumni Association that support short term programs in the United States for Germans with so-called “migration background” to meet other minorities for academic and personal exchange.

But money is not the only way. Contributing time and effort is another helping hand, such as is obvious with the German Fulbright Alumni Association that sponsors this publication. One should spread the word at workplaces, colleges, universities, schools and other institutions that promote learning of every kind. Encouraging friends, family or colleagues to apply is also an important way to be involved. Of course, the notion of “giving back” is imbedded more naturally in a voluntaristic culture like the United States. But it is a significant gesture also to educate German friends and colleagues that this practice contributes to a stronger and better civic community. Moreover, it helps foster a more interconnected and interdependent society that experiences the benefit of working together at multiple levels to enhance chances for others, particularly those less privileged.

I hope that these few thoughts on this topic, presented in this publication in particular, might stimulate a different kind of thinking about how one Fulbrighter can make a difference.

Find out more about the “Verein der Freunde und Förderer des deutsch-amerikanischen Fulbright Programms e.V.” and become a member at:

Jeff Peck

Prof. Dr Jeff Peck
Aside from his current position mentioned above, was co-author of, “Moving from Individual Experience to Institutional Change. European Fulbright Diversity Initiative (EFDI). A Task Force Report,” 2019.

Transforming the World Requires Transforming Ourselves – A Pledge for more Authenticity

Our planet is on fire – literally and metaphorically. Natural disasters range from climate change, biodiversity loss, species and plant extinction to the degradation of natural ecosystems. Economic development, meant to lift millions if not billions of people out of poverty, leads to an increase in anthropogenic pressure. According to the Global Footprint Network, humans use as many ecological resources as if we lived on 1.75 earths. Consequently, measures need to be taken to reduce the overall footprint on our planet.

View over northern Italy. Photo by Jörg Geier.
photo: Jörg Geier

A lot has been written over the last years, and sometimes even decades, on topics such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Corporate Governance, Sustainable Development, Triple Bottom Line, Sustainable Finance, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), Impact Investing, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or the European Green Deal.

What all of these terms and measures have in common, is the notion that economic activity and global development need to be more holistic in nature in order to protect natural resources and pay attention to social (including health) considerations – above and beyond a single focus on economic prosperity. Some of these terms focus on macroeconomic, others on microeconomic (including finance and accounting) considerations. One could also say that the perspective changes from the big picture (e.g., on a national or supranational level) to a more microscopic consideration (e.g., on an organizational level) in order to incentivize transactions – and action – that keep in mind people and planet, in addition to profit.

Let’s take a look at Corporate Social Responsibility (the term Corporate Governance is often used synonymously): As noted in HEC’s Executive Factsheet, the economists Howard R. Bowen1 and William C. Frederick2, looked into the social responsibilities of companies and their leadership in the 50s and 60s, respectively. However, it took almost 50 years for CSR to become mainstream: According to KPMG3, it took a while for CSR reporting rates to increase: at the turn of the century a third of the world’s 250 largest companies by revenue published a CSR report; this number rose to approx. 90% around 2010.

The Brundtland Commission’s report to the UN Our Common Future (WCED – World Commission on Environment and Development 1987), popularized the term sustainable development; it was preceded by a range of publications on topics such as development, economic growth (including its limits). The Brundtland Report expressed the belief that social equity, economic growth and environmental maintenance are simultaneously possible, thus highlighting the three fundamental components of sustainable development: the environment, the economy and society, which later became known as the triple bottom line.4 Moreover, the report emphasized the rights of future generations.

Along similar lines, different historic events created the basis for what is now known as impact investing. In 2006, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) was released with 63 signatories and $6.5 trillion in assets. Impact investors focus on advancing environmental or social considerations alongside the optimization of investment returns.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York in September 2015. Various UN declarations and summits paved the way for developed and developing countries to follow universally recognized principles tackling poverty while improving education as well as human and planetary health, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth.

So far so good. All of these measures – embedded into regulatory frameworks – are important milestones toward a more equitable, socially and environmentally just transformation of our planet.

However, we simply don’t have enough time!

In 2015, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Stockholm Resilience Centre published a dashboard of 24 indicators which depict the dramatic acceleration in human enterprise and the impacts on the Earth system over the last two centuries. Changes in human production and consumption, indicated by gross domestic product, direct foreign investment, energy consumption and telecommunications, are reflected in changes in the earth’s natural systems: climate (greenhouse gas levels, global temperature), ocean acidification, terrestrial biosphere degradation and fish capture.5

Having been part of the sustainability movement myself for over 15 years, I can safely say that there is certainly enough talk and also some action – but it may not be the right kind of action.

“ It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. […] To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.”
– Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (2015) chapter 4, paragraph 138/chapter 3, paragraph 111

There is a conundrum when leaving things up to fate and in the hands of technocrats, politicians or economists: the focus is likely to be short-term, as incentives are often equally short-term oriented. Stock markets put pressure on listed companies to boost quarterly profits, often at the cost of long-term research and development expenditures. Venture capital investors demand entrepreneurs to grow exponentially, which requires business models that put profits before impact-oriented considerations. So-called patient capital is not commonplace. Politicians with an average tenure of four years may be punished for long-term oriented decisions (e.g., to address global problems such as climate change) if they have negative short-term effects (such as higher energy prices). How to balance short- and long-term interests may be a tough decision to make, especially if they want to be reelected. Most economists naturally focus on the maximization of economic growth rather than the wellbeing of our societies and individuals at large (mostly, because adequate systems have not been set up yet to measure indicators other than GDP).

The other side of the coin are both consumers and producers who are less conscious than they may claim to be. Consumers may not always have all the information they require to make ethical purchasing decisions at their fingertips. But they can still choose to inform themselves to buy more sustainable goods – or simply consume less. Not least due to the current sustainability trend, greenwashing is omnipresent. Producers apply misguided marketing or PR campaigns or change the packaging of an existing product while continuing to use unsustainable ingredients. It is a way for companies to appear like they care while also increasing their profit margins.

From my perspective, we are facing both a systemic and a spiritual crisis that is deeply rooted.

Our western mindsets in particular tend to look for quick fixes when addressing global problems that have been in the making for decades if not centuries. However, Planet Earth – which has been in the making for millennia – doesn’t care if the systems of our own creation have to report quarterly earnings, plan exits after ten years with double-digit financial returns, optimize macroeconomic growth (or decline) figures, or care more about the next election cycle than the mandate that put them in power in the first place.

We need a broad-based debate on how to create equitable and sustainable societies able to live within the boundaries of our planet. Such a debate needs to incorporate not only specialists or bureaucrats, but also philosophers, anthropologists, artists, political scientists and others.

What is required is behavior change on a massive scale. We cannot propagate green growth or conscious consumption without taking a look at the whole picture, especially when the future of our children is at stake. Innovations, often driven by technology, notably when they address environmental concerns, may result in efficiency gains. While these can have a positive impact on the cost of products or services, they are also very likely to influence user behavior: increases in overall consumption partially cancel out the original savings. This effect is called “rebound.”6 As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, it is indeed possible to change our behavior, even in the short term. It may be painful but it is necessary if we want to achieve visible results in line with goals set by international agreements such as the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The more I have dealt with sustainability issues, the more I have come to realize that the basis for transformation is not to look without but within ourselves. Lasting transformation starts by asking ourselves questions which may not always be easy: What am I compensating for? Who do I want to impress? What is it that I am hiding?

There are reasons why mental health and wellbeing are trends that are here to stay.7 More stress and noise in our environments have led to people of all ages – especially urban dwellers – to seek refuge in meditation retreats, monasteries or other refuges of silence. Anxieties about uncontrollable events may further take us on a journey inside ourselves. But will this trend also have an effect on our behavior? This remains to be seen; though there is hope given that more and more individuals, especially in the young generation, take the moral high ground: they choose to travel by train rather than by plane; they focus on second-hand products rather than the latest gadget or piece of clothing; they are happy to share consumer goods or their living environments.

Being more authentic about our decisions and intentions will go a long way.

“Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

Joerg Geier was a German Fulbrighter at Golden Gate University, San Francisco, where he completed his MBA 2001-03. With an internation- al background in the private sector, think tanks and academia, Joerg’s passion is the area of green startups, innovation ecosystems, and impact investing. He works as a consultant and has previ- ously focused on leadership development and capacity building.
See also for additional information.

photo: Gesine Born

  1. Bowen, H. R. (1953). Social responsibilities of the businessman. New York, Harper & Brothers.
  2. Frederick, W. C. (1960). The growing concern over business responsibility. California Management Review, 2(4), pages 54-61.
  3. The KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2017.
  4. Jacobus A. (2007). Sustainable development – historical roots of the concept. Environmental Sciences Vol. 3, 2006 – Issue 2, p. 83-96.
  5. McNeill, J. R. and Engelke, P. (2016). The great acceleration: An environmental history of the Anthropocene since 1945. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 288 p. (ISBN 978-0-67454-503-8).
  6. German Environment Agency’s definition of rebound effects,
  7. Kayt Sukel (2022). The power of quiet: The mental and physical health benefits of silence. In: NewScientist, August 10, 2022,

Social Conscience against Social Contradiction

It’s already 11 pm.
                     Ok, let’s wrap this up, says Zeynep.
                     That’s enough. I am tired.
Aynur smiles.
                     We need to finish tonight, she says, looking at Zeynep on the screen.

                     Can’t we just cancel it? asks Zeynep.
But we put in so much work already. We did the content for social media, we contacted different institutions and started announcements for the event. Not this conversation again.
                  Yes, you always want to quit right before the end of the project, thinking it’s not worth it. But once we finish you look back and you’re glad you pulled through.


Water is pouring from the tap. You fill your bottle. Close the tap. It is getting dark outside and you switch on the lights in the kitchen and the living room. You turn on the kettle for some tea while checking your phone: four new notifications, three on WhatsApp, one on TikTok. You remember the tote bag with groceries at the entrance. You get them and start preparing dinner.

Growing up in developed countries, day-to-day life is smooth: water, heating (though that is a big question in 2022), education, jobs, entertainment, health, transport, and travel. All of that is easily accessible for many of us, though, some still struggle. In general, however, life is comfortable here. Maybe too comfortable and often taken for granted, which can be seen in the diminishing interest in politics, society, or lack of responsibility by the younger generation. We think.

Over the past two decades, incredible young people have caught attention globally for their activism and work, like Greta Thunberg, Amanda Gorman, Luisa Neubauer, or Aminata Touré. But how and why did these young women develop a social, political or environmental conscience? How come these women keep to their work despite serious challenges and intense media attention waiting for them to make a “wrong” move?

It’s 2008. A 23-year old woman stands for election to the city council, but fails to get elected. She doesn’t give up on her aim to “build a society where every child can become anything and every person can live and grow in dignity.” Four years later, she again stood for election and this time she was successful. In the years following, she rose to become the world’s youngest prime minister. Her name: Sanna Marin.

But what drove Marin’s determination to have a more equal society in a country that is world-leading in equality both economically and socially? What made her not give up pursuing a political mandate? Her answer in 2020: “I’m in politics because I thought that the older generation wasn’t doing enough about the big issues of the future. I needed to act. I couldn’t just think, ‘It’s somebody else’s job’.” ”

Fast forward to 2022: A video circulates over all media platforms showing the young Finnish prime minister dancing with her friends apparently at a private event. The debate that followed showed and stressed that even in acclaimed equal societies, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to accomplish when it comes to equality. Maybe not materially, but morally.

The debates and comments on social media after the leaked private video showed there is still an immense gap between several groups, for instance between men and women. Otherwise, how is it possible that one politician is being judged by countless of her colleagues for doing the same as her male companions?

On a daily basis, women exhaustingly fight to break out of double standards and stereotypes created within societies. Double standards means the preferring or rejection of people on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or other uncontrollable distinctions in which none are relevant or justifiable factors for this discrimination. In other words: your actions are being valued differently because of something you have almost no control over.

Double standards are seen in dozens of areas: the workplace, in politics and even at school. If a student with a migration background is acting poorly, mostly it is blamed on her cultural background while the mistakes of a native student are caused only by the playfulness of the child. Until recently, this multifaceted double standard that treats and judges actions of people according to their gender or ethnicity is common in our current society. Why does nobody talk about it, if it’s such a substantial issue?

If a lion is born in the zoo, is being fed the same meat every day and taken care of by the same people repeatedly, do you think he would recognize that the cage is not his original habitat? He may assume that something feels off due to his natural instincts. But if he never saw the savanna, never felt its wind on his skin nor spent his time hunting for a gazelle or a zebra, do you believe he would understand that there is something “wrong” with his life?

For centuries, people have lived and breathed with double standards. It is not until someone, somewhere tells us to break out of the circle, tells us that there is something not okay with our situation that we recognize these issues. Sanna Marin’s debate showed us clearly the unequal treatment – not financially but socially. Now, for our future generations we need to change and stop enduring unfair treatment and judgment.

Unfortunately, reality is not as simple as acknowledging that a lion does not belong in a cage. In our society there are still people who don’t understand or who simply don’t know that the way they are treated is unfair. And those who know or at least have a feel for unrightful treatment, often don’t realize how to defend themselves.

That is why we have been socially and politically active for the past couple of years. Not only because it is our responsibility but also our duty as citizens in the 21st century to create a society in which diversity is lived and not only talked about. Because diversity is not having a bunch of people who look different, diversity is giving everyone the same rights as well as the same justice and judgment. It might be tiring but it is worth it.

Until we break out of this cage of double standards we will not give up.

About the authors:

Aynur Durak, raised in Berlin, Germany, is a multilingual student of intercultural communications with a focus on diversity and equality in the workplace. As a Fulbright alumna, who participated in the Fulbright Diversity Initiative at Trinity University in San Antonio (TX) in 2019, she is the author of several publications, such as her debut poetry book: the universe in me. Currently, she is working as a Content Creator at Fulbright Germany while furthering her education in journalism and communication, to provide a larger range of topics such as race and racism in Western media. Purchase the universe in me or flowers of mercury on Amazon.

Aynur Durak

Zeynep Alraqeb is the Extended Board member for Diversity Alumni.

Zeynep Alraqeb speaks at a conference.

Registration now open for Winterball 2023

Liebe Fullies,

We are excited to formally invite you to the German Fulbright Alumni Association’s Spring Ball, this year to be held in conjunction with our annual General Assembly in Hamburg on the weekend of March 24th – 26th and are thrilled to announce that registration is now live via the following registration form:

Register here

The festivities will begin with an informal get-together on Friday night. Saturday will feature the annual General Assembly at the Bucerius Law School and, of course, be highlighted by the evening’s Spring Ball. MARKK am Rothenbaum will serve as our host for this festive Fulbright occasion, one of good food, even better company, and necessarily, lots of dancing! We are also eager to have special guests headline the evening, among them being this year’s recipient of the annually presented Mulert Award.

The weekend will close on Sunday with a casual farewell brunch after which there will be the option to visit special exhibits at the Hamburger Kunsthalle or Mahnmal St. Nikolai, to discover the UNESCO World Heritage site that is Hamburg’s Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel, or to explore Hamburg’s Altstadt with a tour from City Hall to the renowned Elbphilharmonie.Space is limited and registration officially closes on March 5th, so RSVP as soon as possible to ensure your spot. All details concerning price and locations can be found in the registration form, with a travel guide to be provided via email to all participants after registration.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to your events team. Contact information can be found in the signature below. We’re looking forward to the weekend and hope to see you there!


Mit lieben Grüßen aus Hamburg,

Your German Fulbright Alumni Association


Apply now for the Mulert Award 2023!

Applications for the 2023 Mulert Award are now open. Please apply here via a quick and short online form. Application deadline is February 28, 2023. The winner of the award will be announced in a festive award ceremony in May 2023 in Germany.

Mulert Award

Click here to find more information about the Mulert Award.

Call for Nominations: Amerigo Media Award 2022

Liebe Fullies,

der Fulbright Alumni e.V. hat als Teil von ENAM (European Network of American Alumni Associations) dieses Jahr die Ehre, den/die Gewinner:in des europäischen Amerigo Media Awards zu bestimmen. Der Award wird jedes Jahr durch die italienisch-amerikanischen Alumni an eine:n Journalist:in in Europa vergeben, der/die durch herausragende journalistische und/oder mediale Arbeit zu positiven Beziehungen zwischen Deutschland, Europa und den USA beiträgt.

Für die Nominierung geeigneter Kandidat:innen benötigen wir eure Unterstützung!

Sind euch Fulbright Alumni bekannt, die aktuell in Deutschland leben und durch besondere journalistische/mediale Arbeit die transatlantischen Beziehungen fördern? Oder seid ihr vielleicht sogar selbst aktiv?

Wir freuen uns über eure Vorschläge per E-Mail an bis spätestens 15. September 2022. Bitte nennt uns Vorname, Nachname, Kontaktinfos (falls vorhanden) und eine kurze Begründung, warum diese Person (oder ihr selbst) aus eurer Sicht den Award gewinnen sollte.

Der/die ausgewählte Gewinner:in darf sich auf eine exklusive Vergabe des Awards im Dezember vor Ort in Florenz freuen – die Reisekosten werden übernommen.

Als kleinen Teaser findet ihr hier einen Bericht zur Award-Vergabe aus einem der vorherigen Jahre. Meldet euch ansonsten bei Fragen gerne direkt unter oben genannter E-Mail.

Vielen Dank für eure Unterstützung!

Fulbright Scholarship: Make it your way! – Webinar am 28. Juli 2022 von 18.30 – 19.15 

“Das ist nur etwas für Einser Kandidat:innen”
“Für ein Stipendium bist du nicht gut genug”

Leider mussten viele Studierende oder Schüler oft diesen Satz von Lehrer:innen oder Professor:innen hören. In vielen Fällen hat dies junge ambitionierte Menschen oft im weiteren Leben davon abgehalten sich für Stipendien zu bewerben. Wir wollen das ändern und junge Menschen mit guten Leistungen und sozialem Engagement dazu aufrufen sich für das Fulbright Stipendium zu bewerben.

Fulbright ermöglicht es jungen Menschen in den USA zu leben und an einer amerikanischen Universität zu studieren. Das Stipendium ermöglicht Studierenden einen einmaligen spannenden, lehrreichen und unvergesslichen kulturellen Austausch.

Als Alumni von verschiedenen Programmen der Fulbright Kommission erzählen wir dir wie unsere Erfahrung war und was du bei deiner Bewerbung beachten solltest.

Bewerben oder nicht bewerben? Wir sagen: Auf alle Fälle bewerben!

Registriert euch gerne hier:

Wir freuen uns auf euch!