By Roman Schärer
Under the title "Releasing Y(our) Gene-ius", Goethe-Institut Cairo hosted a first workshop from 13 to 15 June under the direction of the Swiss professor Dr Alexander Schieffer. 16 alumni wanted to find out how they could deliberate on and communicate their personal concerns and difficulties and translate them into a harmonious, balanced project for Egypt's social development.
The focus was on the concept of the "Integral Worlds Approach" taught by Dr Alexander Schieffer. This holistic approach is about rendering inequalities visible and balancing them out. Projects are often unbalanced because they focus on only one aspect, such as economic efficiency, and neglect the cultural aspects. The "Integral Worlds" approach, however, is intended to help bring the self, society and nature, culture and consciousness, technology and science, and economy and entrepreneurship into harmony and balance. According to Schieffer, this is the only way to create a harmonious, holistic project. Completely in accordance with the role of the ancient Egyptian goddess Maat, under whose auspices the workshop took place, the main focus was on the creation of justice, balance and harmony. The aim of the second part of the workshop in October will then be to create a project proposal based on the absorbed Integral Worlds Approach.
Exchange in focus
In addition to understanding this holistic approach and translating it into an individual project, the focus was also on networking and exchange. Over these three days, the various previous areas of knowledge and professional and personal backgrounds of the participants enabled lively and useful discussions on the various project ideas and their implementation. Although many of the participants had concrete ideas for a project, they didn’t know how to draw attention to their ideas. And so here, for example, an alumna with media experience was able to give valuable tips on video recording, photography and social media campaigns, and offer advice to her fellow campaigners. In addition, the individual project ideas were grouped according to main themes, allowing participants with similar project ideas to exchange and network even more closely.
Diversity of projects
Although all participants want to commit themselves to a specific topic for very personal reasons, by the end of this part of the workshop four larger topic areas were identified which in the eyes of the participants involve social and cultural problems and conflicts and require structural changes: women and children, environment, culture and heritage, and upbringing and education. Within these topics there exist various innovative project ideas, such as a project to clean up beaches, an online platform to preserve the diversity of Egyptian dialects, and a project to promote the advancement of women.
Foto: Islam Safwat © Goethe-Institut
Challenges for the future
All the participants, who came for example from the Nile Delta, Upper Egypt or Cairo, had the shared feeling of being committed body and soul to their project. Many challenges must be tackled before the participants can actually implement their concrete projects. Some participants still need practical help with logistical questions or professional support with bureaucratic hurdles. One of the project ideas currently seems more like a dream: the greening of the desert. Finally, the question arises as to whether each individual participant has enough stamina and energy to develop their project in the long term. According to trainer Alexander Schieffer, this is exactly where the excitement but also the difficult lies: will the participants manage to stay committed to their personal project over months and perhaps years? For now, all the participants are highly motivated and all have the same desire to develop a project according to the qualities of the goddess Maat, who is just, harmonious and in balance.