Emily Erika von Bergen Takushi, B.Sc. Management, Class of 2020, has received the DAAD Prize for outstanding achievements of foreign students studying at German universities. Awarded at the KLU for the second time this year, the prize comes with 1,000 € and aims at giving faces to the many international students at German universities and linking them with their stories.
The DAAD prize honors academic achievements but also social and intercultural commitment at KLU. Which activities and projects have you been involved with at KLU?
Emily Erika von Bergen Takushi: Since starting my studies at the KLU I have always tried to be involved in as many activities as I could. In my first year the most pertinent were at UniKonnect as marketing manager and as event organizer for KLU Thinks Big. I was also involved with the university’s marketing team. In my second year at KLU, I decided to apply for the position as class speaker and spokesperson of the student body, a position I was elected to for two years in a row. Lastly, during my final year, I became co-president of UniKonnect, co-leader of the organization team of KLU Thinks Big, and I decided to initiate a project around Christmas for KLU members to donate clothes to Hanseatic Help, a non-profit organization.
You were electeded twice to be spokesperson of the student body. Why did you choose to run for this position? What were your main projects or goals?
Emily E. von Bergen T.: I believe there’s always room to improve in everything we do, but only if we allow ourselves to listen to what people have to say. That’s what inspired me the first time I ran for study body spokesperson to create a KLU student network that would help build trust and enable them to create an even better KLU experience. To achieve this I created an online platform for students to anonymously voice their concerns and receive responses to them by the end of the semester. Clearly one year wasn’t enough for me to finish the job, so. I decided to run again for a second year.
You were also involved with Hanseatic Help and Stichting YesWehelp. What’s been your motivation for taking action in these social projects? What have you liked most about them?
Emily E. von Bergen T.: Back in my home country Bolivia, my mom was always really passionate about organizing projects in hospitals and orphanages. She brought me along to help for as long as I can remember. While doing all these projects, she’d say something like, “I cannot do all the good that the world needs, but I can try to give all the good that I have to the world” . As this became a tradition for me, I decided to try something similar with non-profit organizations to feel like I was contributing to society. My favorite part has been discovering this shared passion in other people I met along the way and enjoying each moment together.
It seems you needed no time at all to settle here in Hamburg, and you instantly became involved in a number of activities. What helped you do so?
Emily E. von Bergen T.: My dad always tells me to leave a mark wherever I go, which has been easy to do it at KLU since I have had amazing support, especially from the KLU staff, professors, and other students. I remember the first committee I was part of. Most of the students were foreigners and had a significant commitment in the university. Seeing their enthusiasm and level of engagement motivated me to seek further involvement. Especially since my family lives so far, it’s been essential for me to create an environment where I could feel home for years to come.
You are completing your bachelor’s degree this year. What are your plans for the future? Will you keep taking part in social projects?
Emily E. von Bergen T.: I know that wherever I go, I will follow my heart and give back to society in whatever way I can. I plan to stay in Europe, but not specifically in Germany. For now, I am planning to take a gap year to gain further work experience and travel a little as soon as COVID-19 is under control. After that I intend to pursue a master’s degree. As for my involvement with social projects, I am still part of Stichting YesWehelp. We will soon launch an app to the public. I also recently joined the Association Trufi that was initiated in Germany and also operates in Bolivia. Let’s see what the future brings.