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.

Heidrun Bien wins Mulert Award 2019 with the “LGBTQ* Hockey Club” from London

So gay! Who has not heard homophobic remarks used as an insult in sports? Even today, even in Western Europe, many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people have negative experiences in sport—from bullying in school, to coming across anti-LGBTQ* language down the pub, on social media, on or off the pitch. They can feel that they are not welcome and that sport is not a safe place for them to be.

In 2005, my now wife Karen Ruddock together with a friend, Stephen Park, started the London Royals Hockey Club. They wanted to create a community and inclusive space where people from different backgrounds could come together and find friends, fun and support. A club open to ALL, not just the LGBTQ* community, to all abilities and regardless of background.

The London Royals Hockey Club today is a community of over 350 players who are active on a monthly basis plus many more who have since moved away from London and all over the world and still feel part of the family and join occasionally for tours or events. Some even started their own inclusive clubs.

We particularly welcome complete beginners and we have a hardship fund in place so that anyone who wants to play can play. We provide a supportive environment, to inspire confidence and where everyone feels welcome. Mixed games and socials are at the very core of the club. Inclusivity has also made us exceptionally diverse in age (currently from 20 to 65) and ethnicity, and our members come from all over the world. This club is a family for many, for those that are rejected, for those that feel like they don’t fit, for those who just want to play sports and make friends.

Bridget Kinneary wins Mulert Award 2018 with “Mit Mach Musik” from Berlin

The German Fulbright Alumni Association is proud to announce that this year’s Jürgen Mulert Award on Mutual Understanding is bestowed to the project “Mit Mach Musik”. Bridget Kinneary, Fulbright alumni from the United States now based in Berlin and music director of the project is presented with the Mulert Award for her courage and vision of supporting refugee children in Berlin and developing intercultural understanding.

Pedro Marcial Cerrato wins Mulert Award 2017 for “CEMPRENDE” in Honduras

Taking Global Exposure to Local Endeavors –
“CEMPRENDE” Receives Mulert Award on Mutual Understanding

Frankfurt am Main, Germany, March 2017 – The German Fulbright Alumni Association is proud to announce that this year’s Jürgen Mulert Award on Mutual Understanding is bestowed to the project CEMPRENDE in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Pedro Marcial Cerrato, cofounder and chief activist of CEMPRENDE will be presented with the Mulert Award for his courage and vision of supporting local entrepreneurs in a challenging environment.

CEMPRENDE is a collaboration and networking community where entrepreneurs find guidance, peer-to-peer support and be encouraged to innovate. Mr. Cerrato and his fellow activists have organized an NGO to offer (pre)incubation and acceleration programs for social and technological ventures. “Our initiative is a paradigm shifter because it offers a collaborative approach that millennials can relate with”, Mr. Cerrato explains. He was a Fulbright scholar at the University of South Carolina between 1995 and 1997.

CEMPRENDE aims to open dialogue with key ecosystem players, like municipal authorities, to improve the regulatory environment faced by new and established micro, small and medium sized enterprises. “A place where entrepreneurs meet policy makers, mentors and trainers who walk their talk and help others prosper”, affirms Mr. Cerrato. Future plans for CEMPRENDE include a fabrication laboratory (fablab) where youngsters and adults can learn how to use technology to create and to invent while having fun.

In 2015, after more than 20 years living abroad, Mr. Cerrato returned to his home country to use his international experience to foster innovative social and impact entrepreneurship. Vanessa Wergin, president of the German Fulbright Alumni Association, affirms that “CEMPRENDE takes Senator Fulbright’s idea of waging global peace through mutual understanding to a local level and thus stands out as an example for many Fulbrighters around the planet.”

The Jürgen Mulert Memorial Award on Mutual Understanding was established in 2010 in memory of Dr. Jürgen Mulert, scholar, poet, inventor and Deputy Executive Director of the German-American Fulbright Program. The Mulert Award is given annually to volunteers, artists, professionals and researchers across disciplines, whose work reflects and advances discourse on peace through mutual understanding. Former Mulert Award recipients include Sherief El-Helaifi, Oksana Buzhdygan, and Jörg Wolf. The Award will be presented on March 18, 2017, at the German Fulbright Alumni Association’s annual Winter Ball in Mainz, where Mr. Cerrato will be a guest of honor.

For more information on CEMPRENDE, Community of Entrepreneurs, please visit

To nominate projects for the Mulert Award see

Steffen Schmuck-Soldan
Coordinator Mulert Award

Robert Lepenies wins Mulert Award 2016 with “Global Colleagues”

Global Colleagues attempts to match multidisciplinary poverty scholars in one-to-one partnerships and encourages participants to collaborate, to share reading recommendations and research insights, information on conferences, workshops as well as to offer introductions to research networks where appropriate. Partnerships are established for the duration of one year, renewable for further one-year periods by mutual consent.

In 2015, Global Colleagues brought together 68 participating scholars from 31 countries, also thanks to the help of many volunteers. In 2016, Mr. Lepenies, a post-doctoral fellow at Free University/WZB Berlin who spent a Fulbright year at Yale University, plans to attract funding as well as gain institutional partners and thereby expand and professionalize the program for its participants. His hope is that through this program, poverty research can become inclusive and global and that in turn, policy designed to eliminate poverty is influenced by a diversity of voices.

For more information on Global Colleagues visit

The participants and their geographical distribution

Jörg Wolf wins Mulert Award 2015 with “Atlantic Review”

News Platform “Atlantic Review” Receives Mulert Award on Mutual Understanding


Mr. Wolf, a political scientist and former Fulbright Scholar at Johns Hopkins University, explains his volunteer engagement with the necessity of critical, and balanced perspectives on international relations. Since its launch in 2003 the Atlantic Review has published more than 1.000 articles on topics like Iraq, the war on terrorism, NATO, but also economics and pop cultural issues related to transatlantic relations. Current issues such as human rights, freedom of speech, and privacy, have been debated by hundreds of readers and commentators, providing a basis for understanding differences and commonalities alike.

Please follow the link to Atlantic Review.

Oksana Buzhdyga wins Mulert Award 2014 with “Ecological Education in the Ukraine”

The Mulert Award on Mutual Understanding 2014 is bestowed to Oksana Buzhdygan and her project “Environmental Education and Outreach for School-Age Students”. Ms. Buzhdygan receives the award for her enrichment seminars with school teachers in rural areas of her home country, the Ukraine. Ms. Buzhdygan, an eco scientist and assistant professor at Chernivtsi National University, started her project in direct response to massive ecological changes and the lack of educational measures to raise public consciousness for environmental quality.

Together with faculty members Ms. Buzhdygan organizes practical training courses for school teachers, focusing on areas of the Ukraine where resources for education are scarce and where the impact of deforestation to the inhabitants is immediate. The purpose of the long-term project is to connect professional ecologists with the community in order to heighten awareness of the science of ecology and local environmental issues. Seminar participants share their experience with colleagues in their schools as well as from adjacent villages and use their experience in class in order to provide knowledge beyond the conventional curricula.

While her undertaking is a major challenge in the Ukraine, Ms. Buzhdygan also provides opportunities for teachers and students to access expanded sources of information and exchange through the project’s website. It is her hope that the ecological education she provides will act as a catalyst to create a new and much needed discourse on the environment.

Ecological Education in the Ukraine – Project Images

Short Biography of Oksana Buzhdygan

Image of Oksana Buzhdygan
2004 –
Master (Ecology and environmental management), Dept. of the General & Experimental Ecology, Chernivtsi National University, Ukraine
2005 –
Ph.D. (Ecology), Dept. Ecology & Biomonitoring, Chernivtsi National University, Ukraine
2010 –
Fulbright Grantee (Fulbright Faculty Development Program), Odum School of Ecology & Faculty of Engineering, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
2011 –
Post-Doc. Odum School of Ecology & Faculty of Engineering, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
2007 –
Present Assistant-Professor. Dept. Ecology & Biomonitoring, Chernivtsi National University, Ukraine
2013 –
Post-Doc. (Erasmus-Mundus Grantee), Institute of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

Sherief El-Helaifi wins Mulert Award 2013 with “Schuelerpaten Berlin”

The German Fulbright Alumni Association is pleased to announce that this year’s Juergen Mulert Memorial Award on Mutual Understanding is bestowed to Sherief El-Helaifi and the project “Schuelerpaten Berlin”. The Mulert Award is given annually to volunteers, artists, professionals, or researchers across disciplines whose work reflects and advances Senator Fulbright’s idea of “waging peace through mutual understanding”. The award will be presented on February 2, 2013, at the German Fulbright Alumni Association’s annual Winter Ball in Hannover, where Sherief El-Helaifi will be a guest of honor and present the “Schuelerpaten” project.

El-Helaifi, currently a B.A. student at the Berlin Institute of Technology, spent a Fulbright exchange year at the University of California at Berkeley in 2011/12, where he focused on Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. “Schuelerpaten Berlin”, which El-Helaifi supported as co-founder, board member and head of public relations, is a unique project which focuses on the process of cultural exchange and awareness. Geared specifically to young people of Arabic descent, “Schuelerpaten Berlin” organizes tutorings between mentors and mentees. Mentors, usually university and doctorate students, are matched with young people from Arab families. Tutoring takes place in the privacy of the mentee’s home, opening up a whole new world to the mentor and facilitating intercultural education of both mentor and mentee.

Since its start in 2009, “Schuelerpaten” has created more than 220 tutoring partnerships and has thus been instrumental in broadening the public discourse surrounding issues of integration in Germany. In 2013, El-Helaifi plans to expand “Schuelerpaten Berlin” to the Ruhr region, and later to other regions, as well. El-Helaifi, who himself has both German and Arab roots, explains the need for such a program: “As the child of a Muslim Egyptian father and a Christian German mother, I grew up learning to appreciate and embrace two religions and two very different cultures. Sometimes I felt that I was pressured to decide whether I am Egyptian or German, although I just felt as both. But I realized how hard it is to integrate if nobody takes you by the hand and explains cultural differences.”

According to Benjamin Becker, president of the German Fulbright Alumni Association, “the idea of ‘Schuelerpaten’ is both simple and revolutionary, and promotes the growth of volunteerism in Germany”. The statistics are testimony to the success of “Schuelerpaten Berlin”: In a survey conducted in 2011, over 68% of mentees said that their grades had improved dramatically through the “Schuelerpaten” program. 79% had a better understanding of school tasks, 79% had learned and incorporated crucial organizational skills, and 74%, felt more self-confident. Overall, 90% of the mentees surveyed were more than satisfied with their mentors.

Janosch Delcker wins Mulert Award 2012 with “Urban Observations”

Winner of the 2012 “Juergen Mulert Memorial Award on Mutual Understanding” is Mr. Janosch Delcker and his project “Urban Observations”.

Mr. Delcker realized a series of short videos in which he portrays artists in New York City and Berlin, respectively. The German Fulbright Alumni Association chose “Urban Observations” for its ability to esthetically foster William Fulbright’s idea of “waging peace through mutual understanding”.

The award ceremony will be held in Schwerin during the Association’s Winter Ball.

Urban Obserations
Mulert Award Winning Art Project

The Protagonists

The featured artists were supposed to represent a cross section of artists working in the respective city. Urban Observations, therefore, included various genders, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and ages. The youngest one is in his late 20s, the oldest one in her early 60s. Some of them are very established, some of them up-and-coming. Some of them are natives to their cities, some of them from other parts of the country; some of them are foreigners living in the city.

Featured Artists

1. Drag Queens: Linda Simpson (New York), Gina Tonic (Berlin)
2. Cartoonists: Isaac Littlejohn Eddie (New York), Ulli Lust (Berlin)
3. Curator: Andrianna Campbell (New York), Nico Anklam (Berlin)
4. Filmmaker: Joshua Sanchez (New York), Stephanie von Beauvais (Berlin)
5. Author: Wickham Boyle (New York), Anton Waldt (Berlin)
6. Painter: Benjamin Weber (New York), Chris Winter (Berlin)

Janosch Delcker on Urban Oberservations

Christoph Janosch Delcker, M.A.

born October 22, 1985, is a video journalist based in Berlin and Brooklyn, New York. Heʼs produced and published videos for i.a. Spiegel Online, The New York Times, ZDF Online, and dpa (Deutsche Presse Agentur). Furthermore, he has published print articles in i.a. European Voice (The Economist), Die Tageszeitung (taz) and Idealist Magazine.

He holds a Bachelorʼs degree in Literature, Music and Media from Humboldt-University, Berlin, and Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. In 2009/10, he spent one year on a Fulbright scholarship at the Department of German at New York University, where he finished his Masterʼs degree in German Literature and Media in May 2011.

Since then, heʼs been working as a freelance video journalist in Berlin, Germany.

Daniel Köhler wins Mulert Award 2011 with a “Paper on poverty reduction in the middle east”

Abstract of the Mulert Award paper 2010/2011

In a time of global economic downturn and political crisis in the Middle East the very ideas of development aid and poverty reduction have been seriously challenged. The classical arguments for poverty reduction (to fight violence and terrorism, democracy promotion, moral obligation etc) seem not to be adequate any more to prevent an identity crisis within the endeavour of global development policy. The question is: Why do we and should we engage in development aid and poverty reduction? Regrettably the answer is not as clear as it used to be. This essay tries to engage the devils advocate and to find appropriate responses to the onsets brought against poverty reduction and to make way for a new “Why” of development policy.