Nearly 80 German Chancellor Fellows attended the second triennial 2016 German Chancellor Fellowship Meeting in the United States, which was held in Washington, D.C. from Friday, October 21st until Sunday, October 23rd. The German Chancellor Fellowship alumni traveled from the US, Russia, China, and Brazil (as well as from Germany) to discuss the timely topic of migration and to learn of updates to the program from AvH and American Friends staff.
More photos from the meeting can be found here.
Meanwhile, information on the panelists and other speakers can be found here.
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Please also join our new US German Chancellor Fellowship Alumni Group on LinkedIn! Here you will be able to connect with fellow US BUKAs and receive updates on the program.
2016 BUKA Alumni Meeting Summary
Dr. Enno Aufderheide began the General Business Meeting Saturday morning by giving a brief introduction that emphasized the strength of the Humboldt network, especially as it has expanded to include more parts of the world. Heidi Foerster expanded upon Dr. Enno Aufderheide’s speech by stating that there have been many changes to the shape and content of the BUKA experience, as “the different countries are changing the program,” but she also stated that much has remained constant within the program, such as, “making contacts that endure throughout one’s career.” She spoke of the new marketing efforts used by AvH, such as the new BUKA promotional video and the video testimonials that will soon be posted online, as well as changes to the BUKA selection process, the new focus on intercultural issues within the program, and opportunities for alumni to engage with the BUKA network.
Following the AvH staff’s speeches, Tatjana Nikitina and Yan Zhu enlightened attendees on the new developments of the BUKA program in Russia and China, respectively. Tatjana spoke of the success of the two past meetings in St. Petersburg, reiterated the value of the program for intercultural friendships, and refered to everyone as “Botschafter” for the program. Yan was thrilled to share that 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the program in China and that the “Internet and Future” meeting held in March 2016 in China was well-attended. A discussion on the current affairs of the BUKA Program proceeded in which BUKA alumni discussed the best ways to promote the BUKA program and for BUKA alumni to stay connected, such as through social media, especially LinkedIn. Bernhard Streitwieser then gave a short introductory speech on current statistics of displaced persons and refugees in the world as a segue into the panels.
Moderator, Amy Schwartz, began Panel #1: “Root Causes of the Migration Crisis: Beyond the News Cycle” by explaining the seeds of the refugee crisis in which she claimed that the Willkommenskultur was a response to Germany’s former mistakes. James Angelos then shared his experience at an Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) rally against migrants where the protesters appropriated the phrase “wir sind das Volk” to use against the refugees. He claimed that a major argument in support of the Brexit vote was the commonly heard statement, “We want to control who comes over our borders,” and that in Britain, France, and in the US there is a desire by the right-wing parties to “return to greatness.” Xiaoming Wang proceeded to analyze the fact that climate change directly results in a dramatic increase in environmental refugees and that there is a drastic need for environmental movement management, particularly in the Southern hemisphere. Andrei Yakovlev subsequently explained the various economic causes of migration. While the first wave of “risk-taking” migrants to the Americas left their home countries for freedom and economic opportunities, the most recent wave of migrants is made up of individuals fleeing their home countries for safety reasons. Oleg Pachenkov claimed that only 0.1% of all forced migrants and refugees are in Russia, and that Syrian refugees in Russia are trying to leave Russia and go further north to Finland and Norway. Rather, 95% of migrants to Russia are labor migrants and most reside in South-West Russia. Chengzhi Yin spoke about how the Chinese government is actively promoting urbanization and the integration and development of rural communities in China. He claimed that the kitchen represents the level of urbanization and modernization in rural areas, and that most migrants live in the more marginal areas of the cities.
Moderator Jack Gieseking for Panel #2, “Responses to and Impacts of Migration,” introduced the panel discussion and mentioned that many within the LGBTQ community are often refugees in their own cities. The first panelist, Johanna Schuster-Craig, began the discussion by explaining that it is highly likely that Angela Merkel accepted the Syrian refugees not only due to humanitarian concerns, but also to prevent violence from occurring in Hungary. She explained how it was ironic that in the same year Germany celebrated its 25th reunification anniversary, walls in Europe were being built to keep the refugees out. Bernhard Streitwieser spoke of the different forms of migration mobility that exist in the world and shared how German universities are actively attempting to integrate refugees into the German higher education system. Xin Tan claimed that migration to China is a relatively new phenomenon and therefore, the Chinese government does not have much experience with migration integration policies. He also briefly spoke about his company Fountown, which helps foreign businesses integrate into the Chinese economy and society. Cynthia Miller-Idriss then shared her research on new right-wing, anti-immigrant clothing lines, PEGIDA, and youth opposition to migration in Germany. William Wheeler shared incredible images from his travels and stressed to audience members that non-EU countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey have shouldered the majority of the Syrian refugees.
At the beginning of Part I of Panel #3: “Outlook,” moderator, Alan Organschi, stressed how the world is rapidly urbanizing and that migration will continue to increase with more frequent and severe natural disasters/climate change effects. Mei Li first spoke of the HIV epidemic in the Yunnan Province of China, where 87,634 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2015 alone and 90% of those infected were infected through sexual transmission. Irina Kalinina explained how the legal systems in Europe are not sufficiently developed and that new legislation is needed to effectively address the migration crisis. Veronika Kupriyanova next claimed that emigration from Russia has been increasing since 2012 and consists primarily of highly-skilled, elitist Russians. However, there are still many foreigners migrating to Russia, especially from CIS countries (90%), particularly labor migrants from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Ukraine. Suzana Velasco ended Part I of Panel #3 by claiming that there is no structure in place in Brazil to effectively support refugees and that the Brazilian government is currently consumed with domestic economic and political issues.
Following the day’s events, the Saturday banquet took place, in which the keynote address was delivered by German Ambassador Peter Wittig. Ambassador Wittig claimed that the refugee crisis is both a European and global crisis that needs to be addressed collectively. He then used the US as an example of successful immigration and integration practices. He ended the evening by encouraging active dialogue and cooperation across the globe, including through programs like the German Chancellor Fellowship.
On Sunday morning, Part II of Panel #3 then began with Carly Schmitt’s video in which Carly highlighted many different, “art projects, social projects, and cultural projects” currently taking place all over Germany to benefit refugees. Daniela Gerson then concluded the panel by explaining how she has witnessed journalism change from traditional journalism to engaged journalism throughout her career, especially in regards to reporting on US immigrant communities. Following Part II of Panel #3, Ilonka Oszvald then concluded the Alumni Meeting by thanking BUKA alumni and guests for attending and for further strengthening the Humboldtian network.