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The faces of the Foundation

No need of words to understand each other

Who actually does what at Humboldt headquarters? Who are the people behind the scenes making sure that everything runs smoothly? This page is devoted to the colleagues at the Humboldt Foundation, their lives at work and beyond. TODAY: FRANK ALBRECHT.

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  • Recorded by: Teresa Havlicek
Frank Albrecht with his violin and three other musicians play together as a string quartet.
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I work on the Philipp Schwartz Initiative that offers at-risk researchers a safe haven at German universities. I manage the programme and, together with my colleagues, think about how we can improve things for the people we support. After all, the fellows are in a very special situation. They come from countries like Cameroon, Yemen, Turkey and Syria, and for some of them this is their very first contact with a completely foreign academic system. And the German system is highly complex and competitive – an enormous challenge if you have just gone through the pain and trauma of fleeing your country.

I damn well love my work, not least because I can see what an enormous bonus these researchers are for German science and its diversity. They bring along their expertise and networks from regions people here often know very little about. This also means that they make a big impact on their host universities: usually for the very first time, students in their classes are confronted with people who have lived in authoritarian systems and lost many of the freedoms we take for granted.

Variety and diversity are core issues in my eyes. I am grateful that I can work in a non-discriminatory environment. As part of our Diversity Task Force I was also able to help the Foundation continue along this path and sign the Diversity Charter, for instance.

Music is the way I relax. I have played the violin since I was a child. In Cologne, where I live, I play in various orchestras. But my real passion is chamber music: a string quartet grows together; you have no need of words to understand each other. It’s not just a case of technical ability, you bring along your temperament, your experiences, your moods. This disparateness generates something new, a common expression – for me, this is also a symbol of the value of diversity.

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