Just recently, already in the new year, IPU President Prof. Dr. Lilli Gast was finally able to present flowers and the official DAAD certificate to award-winner Alexandra Kachramanoglou. Here, you can read the official laudation from Lilli Gast, which she gave during the award ceremony for Alexandra Kachramanoglou, and in which she gives recognition to the dedication of other IPU students as well:
Dear Mrs. Rohde-Dachser, Board of Trustees, and Colleagues,
Due to the extraordinary circumstances of the year 2020, IPU students who display a high level of social commitment, while at the same time maintaining excellent academic performance, were invited to apply for the 2020 DAAD Prize.
The selection committee was delighted to receive a number of highly convincing applications from students who dedicate large amounts of their spare time to different admirable volunteer work. However, this privilege came with the confrontation of a hard decision; namely, despite the fact that every single one of these praiseworthy young individuals would indeed deserve to obtain this year’s prize, only one could be chosen.
Among the applicants, a student from the first generation of the English track, Ms. Shereen Abdelnabi from the State of Palestine, made use of her own experiences and volunteered in the Berlin-based project “Give something back to Berlin”. In this context, Ms. Abdelnabi regularly engaged in an animal directed support group for refugee children, through which the children were given a chance to express their emotions and past experiences while engaging in the pleasant experience of playing with Ms. Abdelnabi’s dog, Waffel.
Another excellent candidate, who likewise is a student of the English Track, Mr. Sina Karbasizadeh, continuously uses his native language skills of Farsi, together with psychological knowledge acquired at the IPU, while supporting refugees at an NGO in Falkensee, called B84.
Ms. Lucy Adhiambo from Kenya directly addressed the global outbreak of covid-19 by participating in a hackathon issued by the German government, which requested technological ideas and solutions to tackle covid-related problems. As a result of the “Crisis Response App”, which she and her teammates created, Ms. Adhiambo decided to further develop an advanced version of this app and eventually created a mental health app called “One-Stop Mental Health Platform”.
This year’s winner of the 2020 DAAD prize for international students, Ms. Alexandra Kachramanoglou, convinced the selection committee with her above average voluntary engagement, which stretches over the course of several years and across a number of different projects.
Originally born in Athens, Greece, Ms. Kachramanoglou received her High School diploma at the German school in Athens. Shortly after graduating, Ms. Kachramanoglou moved to Germany to continue her education at a German university. While starting her first degree in architecture in Karlsruhe, Ms. Kachramanoglou simultaneously initiated her now years-long voluntary career by establishing a project with musicians and other volunteers. Over the course of one year, the members of this private initiative, called “United Rhythms”, visited a refugee shelter in Ettlingen on a weekly basis. Together with residents of the shelter, the volunteers constructed an intercultural forum for emotional expression via the language of music by jointly playing drums and traditional Syrian instruments.
After completing her degree in architecture and relocating to Stuttgart to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, Ms. Kachramanoglou was quick to follow up on new voluntary adventures. Through the Caritas organization, an initiative of the C.G. Jung Institute in Stuttgart, and the International Association for Expressive Sandwork, Ms. Kachramanoglou found a new forum where she could put her experience and knowledge to good use. By using the psychotherapeutic intervention method of “Expressive Sandwork”, traumatized refugee children from Northern Iraq and Syria are provided with a safe and intercultural setting in the form of a sand pit. Here, they may express non-verbal materializations of their inner worlds, which are often heavily influenced by traumatic experiences. Over the years, Ms. Kachramonoglou has volunteered to accompany a number of refugee children at two different shelters in Stuttgart while they engaged in therapeutic sand play, ensuring the stability of this enormously important safe space to address remedial measures in children and adolescents suffering from a traumatic past. In response to this experience, which influenced her on a fundamental level, Ms. Kachramanoglou has a vision to organize such a project in her home country of Greece in the future, where the current refugee crisis indeed calls for immediate psychosocial support.
In addition to her commendable and essential voluntary work with refugees, Ms. Kachramonoglou is also active in the integration and support of new international students at the IPU through her engagement in the IPU mentoring program.
On behalf of the executive board of the IPU, the international commission, international office, and the DAAD, I hereby congratulate Ms. Alexandra Kachramanoglou on receiving the 2020 DAAD Prize, highlighting the profoundly important and consistent voluntary work, which Ms. Kachramanoglou has displayed. It is our hope, that this prize will encourage your persistence to continuously carry out such admirable deeds. We wholeheartedly thank you for your engagement and wish you all the best for your future.