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

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 editor.frankly@fulbright-alumni.de.

Greetings,
Jana Frey

Registration now open for 2022 General Assembly in Cologne!

Dear FAeV members and friends,

We are happy to announce that registration has now begun for this year’s 2022 General Assembly, which will take place on Saturday, May 21st, 2022 and which offers an accompanying programm over the span of the weekend.

Some of the planned events need to be paid in advance and have limited capacity. For the General Assembly, we ask that you also register so that we can accurately plan the catered lunch and coffee.

Click here register and to read more details about the 2022 General Assembly and events.

FRANKly: Call for Articles

The 2020 Call for Articles for our association’s annual journal FRANKly is now available. Our editor this year – Jana Frey – is looking forward to your contributions on this year’s topic “reinventing comunities”.

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. When submitting your article, please provide 2-3 sentences about yourself 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 June 7, 2020.

Reinventing Communities

Being part of a community – or of different communities – is one of the most important aspects of our lives, as they are places where we connect with other people. The way we feel about communities and the way we act within in them shapes us as people and contributes to who we are.

As Fulbrighters we have all jumped at the opportunity to leave our own home communities for a time, at the opportunity to be part of new host communities in a different country as well as to completely create our own communities that are neither home nor host community, but something new. Communities today are capable of bridging borders. As members of the Fulbright Alumni e.V. we are part of a huge community of different people from all over. And we might be part of other communities: the sports community, the music community, the physical community of our home town or broadly speaking – the online community.

But the way we understand community has been changing drastically. The FRANKly 2020 welcomes contributions that focus on what community means to you: What experiences have you had with moving between different communities and which communities have you been part of? How have they shaped you and how have you shaped them? How have communities changed? And what kinds of opportunities might lie ahead in the communities of the future? How have we reinvented what community means to us in the
past? And will outside influences change our community beyond recognition, or can we take an active part in reinventing what community is today in a positive way?

Download Call for Articles 2020

2020 Fulbright Family Weekend: May 21-24

Dear Fulbrighters,

Mark your calendar! Registration for this year’s Fulbright Family Weekend is now open.

Event Date: May  21-24, 2020

Location: Familienoase Königstein (Sächsische Schweiz)

Registration Deadline: Feb 21, 2020

Procedure: First come, first serve basis!

 

For further information, please contact Elke directly or click the following links:

Program & Registration procedures https://owncloud.fairwelltravel.de/index.php/s/Vjdji63YNiX3NDd PW: ffw20

Registration form: https://owncloud.fairwelltravel.de/index.php/s/nSjiqsZPqLdpu0y (please fill out and mail back to rc.dresden@fulbright-alumni.de )

Registration now open for General Assembly and Winterball 2020

Dear Fulbrighters and Friends,

We kindly invite you to the General Assembly and Winterball, which will be held February 14- 16, 2020 in the city of Mannheim, with the Winterball itself taking place in the Dorint Kongresshotel Mannheim.

We are proud to offer a program around the General Assembly that will give you the opportunity to discover Mannheim, a city revered for its rich history, industry, trade and university. We’re sure you’ll enjoy the weekend!

For more information and to register, please check the Winterball page.

We would like to thank our sponsor, the Mannheim Business School, for making reduced ticket prices for current grantees and returnees possible!

Registration now open for 2019 Welcome Meeting in Darmstadt, October 11-13

The German Fulbright Alumni Association would like to officially invite you to our annual Welcome Meeting, this year being held in the “Wissenschaftssadt” Darmstadt, October 11-13! How fitting for Fulbrighters like ourselves to come together in a city known for the value it places in research.

(Register here: https://fulbright-alumni.de/events/welcome-meeting-2019/ )

The Welcome Meeting is one of the board’s favorite events, mostly because we get to center it around returning German grantees and current American grantees in Germany. Rumor has it that the Welcome Meeting is one of the best ways to see how you can continue to be a part of an active Fulbright family and stay connected! 😉

2019 will be an exciting year: We’ve opted to once again ask our alumni members from Ellery studio to organize an unConference! What’s more, our inspiringly active Interest Initiative Group, Diversity, has planned a bit of the weekend as well.

(Register here: https://fulbright-alumni.de/events/welcome-meeting-2019/)

General Schedule of Events:

– Friday night kicks off the weekend with a wine reception, where we can mingle and get to know one another.

– Saturday will be a day to be remembered with a great lineup.
A keynote speaker, the unconference and a session organized by our amazing Diversity “thematische Arbeitsgruppe” will be sure to give everyone lots to bond over and talk about at group lunch and dinner. If we’re not too tired, we’ll even see what Darmstadt’s nightlife has to offer!

– Sunday will round out the Welcome Meeting with brunch and sightseeing opportunities before we sadly have to say Auf Wiedersehen!

We are very much looking forward to welcoming you to Darmstadt and to have a peak into what the Germany Fulbright Alumni Association is all about. Unfortunately, space is limited, so please secure your registration ASAP!

Register here: https://fulbright-alumni.de/events/welcome-meeting-2019/

For any questions, please feel free to contact us here via facebook or email a specific board member for assistance. https://fulbright-alumni.de/board/

We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Your FAeV board

Register here: https://fulbright-alumni.de/events/welcome-meeting-2019/

Save the Date: Welcome Meeting 2019

We are happy to announce the date for the 2019 Welcome Meeting.
From October 11th to October 13th, 2019 returnees, U.S.-grantees and “old hands” are gathering in the beautiful city of Darmstadt.

More information about the event will be available in all German Fulbright Facebook groups, on our website and via this newsletter.

Membership in the Fulbright Alumni e.V. is not necessary for participation.

Until then, we wish you a good time and hope to see you in Darmstadt!

Your Fulbright Alumni e.V.

PS: By show of hands, this is how much the participants liked last year’s Welcome Meeting:

Participants of 2018 Welcome Meeting

German-American Alumni Think Tank, May 20, 2017

Communication and exchange are crucial to transatlantic alumni work. With this object in mind, the DAZ Stuttgart invited the major German-American alumni associations to a networking and strategy meeting. We gladly took this opportunity to meet and exchange ideas, challenges, and prospects with representatives from PPP Alumni, VDAC Alumni and Initiative junger Transatlantiker within an informal setting.

Continue reading “German-American Alumni Think Tank, May 20, 2017”

Fulbright Alumni Workshop, March 28, 2017 – “Icebreakers, Warm-ups and Energizers: Group Games for Participatory Environments”

The German Fulbright Alumni Association is becoming an established partner to the Fulbright Commission at the annual Berlin Seminar for current American grantees. Again Ellery Studio ran a workshop – this time on the subject of “Icebreakers, Warm-ups and Energizers: Group Games for Participatory Environments”.

When you are holding a meeting, either at your business or in the classroom, you need ideas to get things started. Icebreaker activities are a great way to introduce a group to each other for the first time, help people to get to know each other, and set the tone of your event.

Speaking of the Fulbright Alumni hands-on workshop, this killed two birds with one stone. Continue reading “Fulbright Alumni Workshop, March 28, 2017 – “Icebreakers, Warm-ups and Energizers: Group Games for Participatory Environments””

Fulbright Alumni Winterball in Mainz, March 17-19, 2017

The annual Winterball is one of the most important national events of the German Fulbright Alumni Association. However, it’s not just one event – it’s a weekend full of events. Over the course of three days, we enjoy tours of the respective city that hosts the event, a brunch meeting, a Get-Together in a tavern or restaurant, the general members’ assembly where we elect the new board, and, finally, the Winterball.

After the general assembly, you relax a bit or explore the city by yourself or in small groups with other Fulbrighters, then dress up and head to the party location. And the rest of the evening and the better part of the night is debating, dining, honoring, meeting old and new friends, and a whole lot of dancing. Continue reading “Fulbright Alumni Winterball in Mainz, March 17-19, 2017”

Fulbright Diversity Weekend, January 13-14

Last month, about 50 Fulbright scholars assembled in Frankfurt am Main for the first annual Fulbright Diversity Weekend. Latham and Watkins LLP along with the German Fulbright Alumni Association graciously hosted the event, which focused on promoting racial, religious, economic, and gender diversity in the corporate world and educational institutions of both Germany and the United States. Continue reading “Fulbright Diversity Weekend, January 13-14”