‘For those who couldn’t afford it’ – my time with the Fair Internship Initiative

In November 2015, I joined the FII.

In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a movement of current and former interns at the UN advocating for fair, more accessible quality internships (Quality and Equality) within the UN system. It is a relatively young movement in the phase where there’s a lot to be done, prioritites to be set and the survival to be secured. When I started, the Initiative did not even have a website and little knowledge about the possibilities to actually induce change. Now, it is much more organized, has joined forces more efficiently with the partner organisation in Geneva and has a well set-up website and social media presence, all due to the efforts of dedicated people who were willing to take up bits and pieces here and there and in total make it more coherent and efficient. However, there are many problems with the organisation of a small and constantly fluctuating initiative advocating at one of the biggest organisations with a high degree of institutional inertia – the UN. Although, I’ve withdrawn mostly from the FII since my return to Europe, I’ve learned a lot when I did my bits and pieces –  about the UN, youth activism, and more.

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British Museum – or: the imperial hangover!

Unbelievably, I’m done with my Masters and thus also LonDONE (sorry for this bad pun, which is however part of an advertisement campaign in the tube…). Due to the high prices and the continuous humidity, I fled the city almost immediately after my last exam was over.

Unfortunately, due to my Masters Programme, I had little time to experience London beyond the realm of my daily trip to the centre and the rare visits by friends dragging me to the numerous street markets. However, there’s one thing that stuck to me during one of my rare exploration trips to the British Museum – I have discussed it since with friends and flatmates – Brits and non-Brits alike: the Imperial Hangover (unfortunately, a quick google search showed me that I’m not the one who invented the term after all), which allegedly led British Comedian John Oliver to say

The entire British Museum is basically an active crime scene
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“Headscarf debates” – a never-ending story

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The first time I (left) ever wore the headscarf was in Cairo in spring 2012

This picture was taken in Egypt and it was the first time that I ever wore the headscarf. Since then, I have talked to many people about it, I have worn it again several times in several countries, with different people and facing different reactions. It is still always kind of an adventure for me to put it on, because I know that people react differently to women wearing the headscarf. Therefore this is a call to try to see the headscarf differently and unveil it from the whole political and religious assumptions with which it has been covered for at least the last 12 years!

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Passport, please

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Attention: this is going to be an angry, political blogpost. So, if you just had your first cup of coffee, and are happily smiling at your partner or flatmate who’s preparing eggs, a second coffee or just smoking a cigarette and stealing your newspaper (depending on your partner or flatmate), if you decide that you don’t want your morning energy and your happy thoughts to be spoiled, I recommend you not to read it, because it will make you angry at the world…

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Kyrgyzstan – where to put the z! (Basic introduction)

When I told everyone back in Germany I was going to Kyrgyzstan, the most common reaction was to pull out their smartphones and look up the country on googlemaps.

“Wow, that’s almost China”.

In smartphone-less contexts I often faced confusion with other countries that are better known, mostly Kazakhstan and – (!) Kurdistan. This seems to be fairly common (I found this confusion on several webpages) and my stories about that even led to the fact that a geographically well-educated person (I still don’t know who it was – so hereby: respect!) drew the outlines of Kurdistan on the map that I had hung up for my farewell party:

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Images in your head

DSC08733When you wander through the streets of Bishkek, you probably won’t immediately like it. It is not as huge and owerwhelmingly intimidating as Moscow or other metropolises, has not the scruffy, old and wrecked down charme of cities like Marseille or – sometimes Berlin, which I personally am really into, nor is it close to anything advertising brochures would probably print on their front – thus: the “real, objective” beauty of a city.

Like most tourists or newbies I spent the first days walking around the centre, where the most representative, soviet buildings are situated and where there are big shopping malls and you can even get good coffee (I’ll explain that somewhere else). Right now, seeing the news on the internet, I am already a little bit familiar with those places and although most Western journalists (if it ever comes to the rare event that they have to report about Kyrgyzstan) tend to look for the “oriental” flare, therefore showing the markets and some people with headscarves (which seem extremely rare to me – at least in the capital, I see less people wearing it than in Berlin), or the typical kyrgyz hats some men are wearing. This made me think quite quickly after some days that the city is easy to get used to. And I have to admit that I was even a little bit disappointed about how “Western” Bishkek seemed to me.

This is one part of the story. The urge to find differences.

Another part are the ideas in our heads. Continue reading