Beautiful weather, 21,000 people all running 42 kilometers and Jan van der Hagen in the midst of it.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to all those of you that made Jan’s marathon race even more meaningful by donating towards the Compostela Village Project.
In 3.14, Jan not only made it to the finish line but also raised several thousands of euros and dollars that will enable families in the Philippines to start a better life.
Of course, you can still support us by donating towards the new village in Cebu. You will find more information here.
Jan – THANK YOU again and hopefully see you next year!
The D&F Team
The importance of intercultural dialogue, tolerance and respect in a globalized world made up of many cultures is omnipresent, yet putting these things into practice is messier than often acknowledged.
At the recent 5th UN Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, heads of State, and many prominent figures reiterated the importance of intercultural dialogue and understanding difference. I was sitting on an interesting panel on how education can be used to foster inclusion and what best practices different societies can highlight – from Austria’s way of minimizing youth unemployment to the Finnish model for integrating immigrant youth.
While there were many fascinating panelists with good arguments, they often got stuck declaring intentions rather than engaging in actual dialogue on how to practice fostering greater understanding in our complex and seemingly contradictory world. Simply acknowledging that difference needs to be accommodated or that we need to tolerate a variety of faiths and value systems only gets you so far when trying to make actual decisions, be they for yourself or your society.
Education surely is one of the key tools for fostering greater understanding. And therefore, I think it is especially important to consider about how we ourselves think and educate others about making decisions. How do we move from paying lip service to celebrating difference while still accepting that we might have certain beliefs that we consider non-negotiable?
I feel we often fall into the trap of thinking that our own beliefs fit neatly together. I think it is very helpful for us to accept that the values we believe in do not fit into a homogenous system that always adds up. As Isaiah Berlin famously observed, it does not help to think that “there is a single harmony of truths…into which everything in the end must fit”. Life is complicated and so are the values we hold for ourselves and the people we love. In fact, values that we consider to be of equal importance might even contradict each other at times. This does not mean that they are invalid but simply reminds us that living also means continuously encountering value conflicts. If we consider that we experience this with our own values in our own culture, what does it mean for exchange with other people that come from different cultural set-ups?
The above question should by no means lead to simple relativism. I think it highlights the importance of making value-based decisions in complex situations in a complex world – something, as Aristotle might have claimed, we need to practice and that we sometimes do better than at other times. We must ask ourselves what we want to stand for and what minimal standards we need to claim for ourselves in order to stay true to what we believe. We will be confronted again and again with situations where our values conflict with the values of others; we need to practice facing the questions these situations bring up.
I think this practice of value-based decision making or put more simply, reaching decisions that represent who you are or want to be, is the basis to working and living together – beyond declarations – in day to day life.
In this light, I think it is not so important what you do – but why you do it and how you react to what others want to accomplish. To think further about value-based decision making, it is always fun to return to Michael Sandel’s classic Justice podcasts.
I am very curious to see how the D&F Academy Theater Fellows will address these questions when working on their Challenge – a play on identity and love in today’s globalized society.
Last week, I was sitting with over 300 guests at our D&F Academy Hamburg to celebrate the end of the Music Project with Friend Christoph Poppen. The 16 Fellows from around the world performed together with around 40 Hamburg youths that they had been preparing for this performance for weeks. From Scottish folk songs to break dancing to classical violin the concert was as eclectic as its hosts – and incredibly moving. The audience gave standing ovations to what was a great afternoon on the theme of diversity through music.
It might seem wondrous in what way music can be the theme upon which young talented adults who do not want to become professional musicians themselves can build their future. Yet, listening to the pitches of all 16 Fellows just two days prior to the concert teaches a different lesson. From using music to advocate for the inclusion of Colombian guerillas or informing Australian men about what to do to fight the horribly high suicide rates, from organizing music festivals to becoming a music consultant to write songs for NGO’s in India, the Fellow’s ideas were as diverse, innovative and creative as they themselves.
The aim of the Music Project as the entire 2012 program was to support our Fellows to follow their passion and use their talents to build a future for themselves and bring about social change in their countries. It brought together young talented adults from around the globe. Our Fellows in this sense are also a kaleidoscope of the educational challenges and opportunities young adults face around the globe. For many young adults, to succeed in a depressed job market is a daily challenge.
Other young adults even question the education they chose for themselves and in how far it prepared them for their future as a recent article in The Chronicle argues. And the fantastic campaign Why poverty shows us through the lens of documentary film, how the very access to higher education comes as a first problem even prior to the question of its actual value. This great film tells the story of the access to higher education in China.
Tackling these many challenges and needed global debates on how we want to prepare the next generation for their future into account, the D&F Academy aims to inspire young adults to follow their passion by using their talents to drive their own ideas and become efficient entrepreneurs – be it in the social sector, the arts, or the realm of business.
In 2013, the D&F Academy Hamburg program will continue to bring about such opportunities. The Theater Project will focus on change through the arts whilst the Peace Project will spread methods of peace building as outsets for exciting entrepreneurial ideas.
Sunday, November 18th
New York City is buzzing with exciting ideas aimed at revolutionizing education as we know it – time for the D&F Academy to meet people and share our work.
Recently, I found myself at the TED headquarters, where I not only heard more about exciting organizations such as the Unreasonable Institute and other exciting fellowship programs, but also about how we learn and what makes us develop new ideas. If you are interested check out this fascinating talk by Kathryn Schultz on what it feels like to be wrong.
Looking at the terrible events in the Middle East and the current discussions in Europe and the US on foreign policy, the importance of global issues in higher education is unquestionable. Peace-building initiatives in particular need to get as much attention and exposure as possible. The 2013 Peace Project at the D&F Academy Hamburg with acclaimed peace activist Dr. Scilla Elworthy thus comes at a crucial time. Please spread the call for applications to talented young adults who want to bring dialogue to their society.
In New York, new ideas often center around the relationship between education and technology. Great start-ups such as the Khan Academy or skillshare offer fresh new ideas. The D&F Academy’s ten months online learning curriculum – the D&F Cloud gains further relevance in the year of the MOOC. In contrast to many other online curricula, the D&F Cloud supports its Fellows as they implement their ventures hands-on by providing them with the input and feedback they need to further their businesses, non-profits or artistic ventures.
The importance of art, and theatre in particular, in education was highlighted by a great event in New York’s American Airlines Theatre last week. The 24 hour play brought together an amazing cast of actors. They had 24 hours to write 6 short plays and stage them in tribute to the Urban Arts Partnership, an NGO that runs educational arts programs in underserved schools all over New York City. The evening showed that theatre is not only an amazing medium to communicate issues and emotions but also a great advocator for social change. Future Fellows will be able to experience the power of theater first hand in the 2013 Theatre Project with Director Nils Finckh at the D&F Academy in Hamburg, which is now open for applications.
Spending time in NYC made me even more excited about the D&F Academy program in 2013 and its fascinating mixture of challenges. For more news on NYC stay tuned.
What an amazing year 2012 has been for us at the D&F Academy Hamburg! The Global Issues Project hosted Jane Goodall DBE and focused on biodiversity; the Sports Project featured Jens Lehmann and focused on sports-coaching; and the Arts & Culture Project with conductor Christoph Poppen currently features a focus on social change through music.
Thousands of applicants resulted in outstanding Fellows from nearly 30 different countries that will leave their marks by implementing their DreamPlans in their home communities.
And the great news is that 2013 is approaching fast. And with it the 2013 series of D&F Academy Hamburg Projects.
It is a truly great honor today to announce that two amazing Projects are now open for application:
Global Issues Project 2013
The Peace Project with peace-activist and three time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Scilla Elworthy will investigate peace-building initiatives around the globe. It will address the fact that uncounted numbers of people all around the world work with great passion as peace-builders in local initiatives, but their stories are rarely told to a wider audience. Scilla Elworthy’s Challenge to the Fellows is to create a vehicle for peace builders to share their stories.
Arts & Culture Project 2013
The Theater Project with director Nils Daniel Finckh will investigate theatre as a medium for social change. In the course of the D&F Academy Theater Project, Fellows will write, rehearse and stage a multilingual play together with Nils Daniel Finckh. The focus of the play will be identity and love; a reaction to the challenges our notions of individual and national identity face in an increasingly globalized world.
Both projects are now open for applications. Please share the news so that many diverse and talented young adults from around the world have the chance to apply.
Keep in touch and take care,
Our Founder Bobby Dekeyser publishes “Unverkäuflich”, a biography written with Stefan Krücken.
Bobby talks about his amazing life story from quitting school aged 15 to his entrepreneurial success with DEDON and the creation of Dekeyser&Friends. “Unverkäuflich” is a book about optimism, ups and downs and about how to pick yourself up again and believe in yourself after a failure.
The book is available in German at Ankerherz Verlag or Amazon.de
Around 50 % of the world’s population is under the age of 28. Young people are central to political, economic, cultural and societal change around the globe. According to a recent poll, the majority of young people from poorer nations believe that the world needs to change and that they need to drive this change. Yet, opportunities for them to learn, develop and discuss ideas are still limited.
On the other hand, young people in the West are often called the “pragmatic generation”, a generation weary of the future and often interested more in security and influence than ideals.
I believe that at the same time, the world faces an educational revolution. Current school and university systems possess a limited ability to deal with a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world. While credentials – degrees – are not worth what they used to be, young people are often less prepared for the job market or the challenges of real life after their time at university. Linear conceptions of education that originated in the industrial age therefore seem at times problematic or insufficient.
While pressure on young people to perform rises in a globalized world, so do the inequalities both within and across countries. In this environment, the old question of what education is supposed to achieve gains new relevance.
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Welcome to the new website of the Dekeyser&Friends Foundation and on our blog. We are very excited to have this great new website up and running and hope you find it interesting!
We want to use this blog not only to keep you updated on our activities and exciting news, but also as a platform for a general discussion regarding educational needs and systems. We want to contribute to a new way of thinking and finding innovative solutions to the challenges educational systems worldwide are facing. This of course also means that we welcome your thoughts and hope for a fruitful exchange.
We hope to see you soon again!
Your Dekeyser&Friends Team