who are we?
we are the participants for the ASA programme in 2023, which is an exchange programme between Germany and South Africa, it focuses on creating room for Diversity and opening up spaces for discussions around identity, diverse lived experiences and community. Join us on this journey of discovery, understanding and connection.
Hi I'm Fine, an open and fun-loving person who likes to inspire others with her ideas. Currently I am studying "international health sciences" at Fulda University in Germany and have a passion for helping others. I am participating in the ASA program to promote anti-discrimination work and thus contribute to a more diverse and equal society.
Hi, I´m Hanna Dickmann (28 years old) from Germany. I have studied social work and did my master's in theology and global development in Aachen. I´m an open-minded person and like to get in touch with different people during my daily life, in vacation or working time. The question of what comes next is for me as important as figuring out my purpose in life. The main reason why I am joining this project is to create workshops for ways of encountering and finding inspiring spaces for diversity sounds necessary in today's secular and separated societies.
My name is Rae and I am a millennial residing in Muizenberg, South Africa. I believe that we can heal ourselves and each other through indigenous plant medicine and sound vibration/frequency. I believe that everyone should be able to express themselves and just be, with ease. I hope to contribute into making this a reality in my community through this project.
Hi:) my name is Zoe-Rachel. I studies psychology in 2020 and became apart of the Amava Oluntu community in the beginning of 2023. My interests lie in mental disorders and health advocacy and in the connection with individuals and communities that together we can utilize our strength and knowledge to heal, develop and grow to create a better future. I joined the ASA exchange program which focuses on topics of diversity, identity, racism, inclusion and community. I believe this is an important discussion to be had and am inspired by the possibilities we as individuals can bring to the table.
Welcome to Surfers Corner, Muizenberg.
In the peak summer months the beach and surrounds are clogged with international and local tourists taking in the sun, the sand and the water. The waves are gentle, the wind isn’t too bad - in fact, surfer’s corner is one of the best locations in Cape Town to learn to surf! This is evidenced by the number of surf schools along the beach. As the sun passes it’s apex in the Friday afternoon sky, we witness group upon group of surfers going into the water.
Behind the Civic Centre, we met Keanu, a young surfer who was just out of the water. We caught up with him and their crew from Hope Town - an NGO based in Ocean View. The young people are brought to the ocean once a week on a Friday afternoon. There is light banter between the surfers as they pack their boards away and get ready to leave. There are smiles on everyone’s faces.
We approach the group and strike up conversation. As can be heard all along the beach at this time, as the sun dips behind the mountain the cold starts to set in, we ask how the surf was. The collective consensus is that the waves were decent enough to have a good time in. The atmosphere is light.
It’s not just the waves. It’s an opportunity to be out in fresh air, barefoot on the ground or in the water, surrounded by the camaraderie of a shared hobby.
Keanu, a youth from Ocean View commented, “When I started I couldn’t stand. Now I can move on a short board. Do tricks and such” His face breaks out into a broad smile and he is clearly proud of his achievements.
On the beach and in the surf, there is space for locals, near or not, to grow themselves and to be part of a community. Surfing is a natural high - the rush of the momentum from the waves (influenced by the moon) carrying you with its own energy. And that’s before you even stand up!
Staring at the waves, at any time of day where there is enough light and you will see all kinds of surfers at surfers corner. Long boards, short boards, people with booties and caps with their wetsuits, people just in board shorts and rash vests. Some of them are really impressive to watch, testing out tricks or expressing themselves on the waves. Others are accompanied with an instructor, first getting the lesson on dry land before braving the waves.
Once you get the hang of it, you are free.
Like our young friend doing the most natural thing in the world - something you love with like minded people - there is community on the beach. Strangers greet each other as they literally run into the ocean.
As much as there is a general air of openness, once you are out in the water, you are on your own. Free to paddle out and catch a wave as the sea suggests. There is a type of silence. A feeling of one-ness with nature. We should all have access to this experience.
Let’s keep the beach accessible!
Rae and Zoe : new fellows of the ASA Program 2023, working for Starkmacher e.V. (Mannheim) and Amava Oluntu (Cape Town).
powerlessness and insecurity through racism
On 27th of April 2023 we (Hanna and Fine/new ASA scholarship holders) followed the invitation to a project event in Mannheim. Originally, a presentation by an initiative on Black personalities in anti-racist and anti-colonial resistance was planned. As we arrived at the location, we got to witness first-hand the impact of racist police violence in Germany through the direct description of a situation that had happened on the same day. The participants were already in the event room of Mannheim's town hall, while the people involved in the initiative, visibly shaken, had to cancel the planned program. The reason was the unforeseeable attack in the morning by police officers on guests from Bénin in their accommodation in Mannheim, who were supposed to lecture the event that day.
It led to the situation that suddenly the mood of the room's atmosphere changed through the focus of listeners.
The topic was tough but touching because strong and emotional words were used to describe the violence of police officers towards the guests from Bénin. The emotions of people involved were moving and stirring. Even one's own tension through pure listening could be felt at that moment. Everyone gladly gave them the space to listen. Astonishment and bewilderment were common facial expressions by all present people. Tears and the feeling of hopelessness depressed the overall situation and also illustrated the seriousness of the entire problem.
This overall situation left a feeling of powerlessness. The powerlessness of not knowing how to react appropriately, how to behave, or how to express our own feelings, e.g. of sympathy. We were particularly struck by the powerlessness in one explicit situation. It was the moment after the speaker ended the presentation and the white people who were present that day, clapped their hands. As a consequence a Black woman knelt down in front of her seat, clasped her hands stunned over her head because she was shocked and outraged by the hands clapping reaction of White people. She felt clapping was extremely inappropriate in this situation and demanded a more personal reaction .
We ourselves were undecided whether we should clap, but yet we followed the majority. The thought of not acknowledging the speaker's words and by that doing nothing led us to adapt in that brief moment. In hindsight, we realized that this gesture was inappropriate and came from being overwhelmed. Have you ever experienced this feeling of powerlessness? What did it with you?
Our perspective as participants on feeling powerless made it clear that people affected by racism experience this feeling to a much greater extent. Black people are exposed to everyday racism because of their Black skin color. The feeling of powerlessness thereby can multiply.
In retrospect, the arrangement in the room contributed to a perceived gap between white and Black people who were sitting across from each other. The participants arrived at the venue first because the people from the initiative had to deal with the challenging situation. Thus, they were seated as a group in the front of the room because they arrived later.
Between distance and powerlessness, this blog post is intended to encourage critical reflection on oneself and one's reactions, and once again to draw attention to the need for anti-racist educational work. There is a need for a discussion beyond the situation described here:
What would you have thought of in this situation to react more sensitively?
How can you, as part of society, help everyone feel treated equally?
How would you prepare a similar event to give more expression to sympathy?
How do you assess the overall problem of racist police violence in Germany?
What are mechanisms that perpetuate everyday racism? What does it take to live in an equal society?
Hanna and Fine: new fellows of the ASA Program 2023, working for Starkmacher e.V. (Mannheim) and Amava Oluntu (Cape Town).
The power of our voice
Stories have always been an influential and powerful form of media throughout history, it is the moments around the fire telling traditional stories with life lessons, it is the community we can create, online and in-person, that is built through sharing our lives and understanding who we are and it can be a way to reach out for support, advocacy and encourage uproar for inequality and mistreated marginalized groups and individuals.
We use our stories to motivate, educate, teach lessons and share memories with our family, friends and even strangers. It is how we connect with each other and with our environments to create a community of empathy and understanding.
It can be stories of adventure, “I’ve never met my grandpa but have heard the tales of his sailing and traveling adventures from my grandma and mother, he sounds like a fun guy so I am glad I have my grandma to share his life with me”.
Or stories of trials and struggles “the stories of what my mother and father had gone through growing up in South Africa keeps reminding me of their strength. It continues to amaze me how open they are to tell me these stories of their childhood.”
And it is what keeps us connected to the people we love and care “I love sharing my day with my long-distance friends, we just keep sending each other voice notes of gossip or what’s been going on around us. It’s like our very own podcast, we talk about work life, struggling to find love or what we ate for lunch. It’s these stories that keep us connected to each other, it helps us learn and know more about each other even from separate corners of the world. We always say our life experiences could be turned into a book of memories or like a hilarious sitcom.”
The power comes from the ability to raise our voices and share our experiences, to find similar individuals and form community bonds, to keep relationships, friendships and loved one’s memories alive. It is used to spread awareness of injustice and rally a community to fight and protect those whose voices and stories are silenced. Our stories hold power, our voices are powerful.
Zoe and Rae: new fellows of the ASA Program 2023, working for Starkmacher e.V. (Mannheim) and Amava Oluntu (Cape Town).
GO“ – forward. Global North and Global South!
The current connection between us as actual ASA-fellows implies that we continue already through our weekly dialogue, in a personal and professional way, with the existence of the cooperation between the institution Amava Oluntu (which is located in the Global South, Cape Town) and the institution Starkmacher e.V. (which is located in the Global North, Mannheim).
Why does it have a relevance to distinguish between the terms not only understandable for partnership members but also for all citizens, who aren´t specifically familiar with development cooperation?
It is very important to realize the terms “Global North” and “Global South” to understand their role in looking at other countries and constructing a comprehensible overview of the planet. They outline the worldwide unequal economic resources which have been historically raised because of colonial times and create awareness for the still lasting structural conflicts today. They have not much to do with geographical classification of “North” or “South”, the terms concentrate on the differences of “Global” influence and differences of social, political conditions to put people's attention to the fact that we live in “One World”. This aspect shows that they are generally used in a relative form. We live in interdependencies. Besides, these terms refer to the point that the global system itself is never static or has to follow a certain ideal. The terms “Global South” and “Global North” avoid categorizing or restricting nation-states out of a specific determined (f.e. eurocentrism) view.
Let's put the focus now on a practical example. It is about one partner from Amava Oluntu and is registered as Denk GLOBAL! gGmbH in Mannheim, too. To visualize the co-work a bit the summary refers to an interpersonal experience throughout a role-playing game in which participants were sitting in a chilled surrounding while the unequal distribution of power, privileges and resources were discussed with particular roles such as industry/politics/trade unions/consumers. The main goal was to elaborate arguments and to represent and demonstrate the positions to each other.
“individual as well as cultural knowledge was exchanged, we learned a lot from each other and took it with us and definitely felt a lot of appreciation for each other. (...)” (Jule Reicherter from Denk GLOBAL!, Mannheim).
She has drawn the following conclusion of the peer-to-peer network teamGLOBAL!: ”The work that Amava Oluntu does is so important, and I am pleased that such a great collaboration creates new perspectives and ideas. To combat the challenges of globalization it is the most important to consider perspectives and knowledge from all over the world and to not only take into account eurocentric perspectives. Especially within the German educational context with the focus on global learning.”
In regard to global context, communication habits have to be considered. Everyone´s sensitive interaction matters, no matter how many aspects are figured out in the end.
There is a new project proposal in preparation and the triangle of institutions mentioned in this blog are following similar principles like active participation from youth to youth, democratic involvement or f.e. establish resilient communities in challenging globalization times.
Bridges to design, bridges to connect, bridges to hold are not easy. The example demonstrates that a combination of ideas always make sense. The process of learning and networking often needs the acceptance to be confused for a moment but at the same time to trust the flow of togetherness. Give yourself an appeal to “GO”. In the end, it is wrong to ask who is mentioned first, who is mentioned last. There aren't those gaps, if we believe in real cooperation and collaboration. How could it be enriching and exciting for yourself to reduce power imbalances?
Hanna and Fine: ASA Program 2023
#Amava Oluntu: Amava Oluntu - Creating Spaces for Learning
#Starkmacher e.V.: Starkmacher
#DenkGlobal! gGmbH: DENK GLOBAL! - Dialog & Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung
Role of Women - Combined blogpost
What do we learn from the history of our women, mothers, sisters and daughters endured? we learnt strength, we were taught knowledge, empathy and love. An excerpt from a song “ I am my mother’s savage daughter” by an indigenous creator emphasizes that the blood that flows through my grandmother, my mother and me, is the blood of powerful fighters, change makers and the women that taught us to hold our power.
More women in societies are asked when they want to become a mother or when they want to have children. Rather than men. Because women, like me and you (us), are expected to become a mother at a certain age, at a certain stage of their life. What if a woman is unhappy with her current situation, not having the right man, could not get pregnant (was pregnant, had a miscarriage) or has ever had an abortion? The historical roots of women demonstrate the strengths of women and this image has developed to independent and free-living women nowadays. Luckily, I would say. Not many are asking: “What is followed by the birth of your child?” If you have a personal unexpected reaction as a woman to the phrase “You were such a good mother”, interested people don't really try to understand your point of view. Often the conversation stops - the impossibility of being different.
What does it mean to be a woman?
To live with the expectations of getting married and having children. The assumption…
To be queer is to break that barrier, that assumption
But to look like a man is completely another thing
Especially in Africa…
First off: Who defines a women? In my ideal world only the person themselves defines what gender they feel like they belong to. I believe, that gender is a construct that the society we live in and thereby patriarchy has created. A world in which only two gender the male and the female who identify themselves with their assigned birth gender, are able to live a privileged life, as they fit into the heteronormative society. Every person who does not fit into the system is in a less privileged position. Although it needs to be stated here, that the heteronormative society has been created by men and only benefits cis-men. This means that people who fall under the queer spectrum do not benefit from the system and may even be subject to harm.
There are two gender. First the gender that a person is assigned at after birth which typically would be male or female. Some humans are born intersex and cannot be assigned to either one of these two genders. Second, there is the gender a human feels like belonging to and embodies this gender throughout their life. For some humans this gender differs from the gender they have been assigned to at birth.
I sometimes ask myself what disadvantages women are facing in our world where women are seen as `equal´? I think asking myself this question is connected with the complexity of gender. Thereby, analysing the role of women in the first step needs to focus on the aspects of what gender is and in what way it is relevant for the world we currently live in.
 Cis- is a word appendix that can be used by men and women to express that they identify themselves with their assigned birth gender.
Hanna and Fine, Rae and Zoe: ASA Program 2023
Final thoughts and experiences from the 2023 ASA Participants.
Zoe- As we have come to the end of this journey in the asa program, I am grateful for the opportunities we were given and the changes we went through. We were able to connect with our communities' needs and look deeper into our consciousness and society to inspire change and growth of knowledge. Thank you for joining us in this adventure.
Fine- Being part of the ASA program and working with Starkmacher and Amava Oluntu has been an enriching experience for me. I am grateful that I was able to work together with such an amazing team that has always been there and supported me. I can proudly say that we have accomplished a cool project together while working remote and within two distant settings internationally.
Hanna: Our 6th month of online coworking-time is nearly over and that's the moment to say thank you to all of you who have been interested in reading our blog or in following our stories on Instagram. Stay awake to the humans around you and to the other part of the world.
Rae: The last 6 months have been a rollercoaster ride of personal growth and community impact. We attended seminars, had weekly online meetings, hosted workshops and learnt teamwork and got to know each other as a team. I am sad that the programme is coming to an end; yet I am grateful for the experience. Thank you to Engagement Global for the opportunity!
Many Thanks to those following, participating and supporting us in our ASA journey. thank you to Engagement Global, Amava Oluntu and Starkmacher.
Hanna and Fine, Rae and Zoe: ASA Program 2023