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The First Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in African Studies

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Laura Krehbiel

My passion for Africa has been a part of me ever since my parents and I moved to South Africa when I was just six years old. Growing up in such a culturally diverse city as Cape Town for eight years has shaped my personal development immensely and has sparked my continued curiosity in understanding the different social, cultural and historical forces at play in South Africa and beyond.

After finishing high school in my hometown Neustadt an der Weinstraße in southern Germany, I went on to study International Cultural and Business Studies at the University of Passau. During this bachelor, I obtained an understanding of the fundamentals of political science, cultural studies of the Anglo-American cultural area, as well as economics and business, with a focus in management. As the regional focus on Africa was not possible as much as I would have liked, I decided to return to what I like to refer to as my second home country and spend one semester at Stellenbosch University. This proved to be a most enlightening experience for me, as I participated in seminars on the role of gender, culture and the state in South Africa and expanded my understanding in African politics. Writing papers on topics including the role of the traditional courts system for gender equality in South Africa and doing research on HIV in the country at a time when students in the Cape Town area were protesting gender based violence showed me the urgency of these topics once again.

To tackle these issues and many others, including the extreme inequality and high youth unemployment in South Africa I believe it is paramount to engage in interdisciplinary African Studies, so as to understand the past, present and future dynamics of development on the continent. We live in a complex world with complex problems. To cope with these challenges, the willingness to engage in dialogue is paramount. This attitude is what I bring into the EIMAS programme and into my professional life. Moreover, I am striving to amplify my knowledge of colonial influences in Africa and challenge myself to leave the European perspective on Africa behind and to question my own privileges.

As to privileges or experienced inequalities, I always felt the impulse to work for more respect and equality in my close environment. From the age of nine I got involved in a social outreach project in Mfuleni, South Africa, supporting education for kids in a homeless centre. When one million refugees came to Germany in 2015, I felt the need to engage with Syrian refugees who just arrived in our small town in Germany and to thus contribute to building bridges between refugees and locals. Through a drama dance group, we succeeded to express emotions connected to the experience of their forced departure from their home and their strenuous way to Germany in a speechless, universally understood way and at the same time made friendships that helped with the first steps of integration.

During my bachelor I welcomed every chance to get working experience. Through several internships I worked with companies in Germany, Italy and South Africa. In the consulting field I appreciated learning more about analysing and resolving conflicts in companies and how to help a company find a more community centred and sustainable way of producing or distributing their products. At the moment I am working for a company in the renewable energy sector in Switzerland that creates energy and organic fertilizer from waste, thereby contributing to a more sustainable development in line with the SDGs.

In my life – including my professional career – I want to contribute to international development issues by supporting the international agendas for sustainability with a regional focus on Africa. And with this Master program I want to go beyond the Eurocentric perspective on Africa. When reading the profiles of my fellow students I was deeply impressed by their experiences and involvement. I am proud to be part of this group and I am looking to the next two years of intense exchange with my fellow students and the academic staff!


Contact: laura.krehbiel@gmx.de

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