Connecting Worlds – it does not matter from where you start enabling others

Summary for busy people: While climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, my colleague Uwe discovered that his tour guide, Adam, would have offered the same tour much cheaper and his team would have earned more money. However, Adam did not know how to offer international digital paying. Well, good thing, Uwe has been working in Web Services all his life.

View from one of the base camps

View to Kilimanjaro´s summit from one of the base camps. Source: Facebook 

They are your life insurance, the team that helps you summit a mountain. They carry your luggage, your food, your house. Although they carry out a risky job, they do not get the money, they deserve. Why is that? They are at the end of a value chain, involving a lot of middlemen. Uwe Grunewald and his wife started their lifelong dream in a German travel bureau. The booked a guided tour up the mountain. The German traveling agency partners with a Tanzanian agency, who finally books the guide and carriers.

In Uwe`s case, they booked Adam and his small company Kilitours. Adam has established his own company, because he was hoping to receive direct bookings from foreign countries. The difference: Tourists can safe $1000 per person and Adam and his guides double their earnings. Win win, as we have learned in school. Until last year, Adam had not received any bookings from foreign countries. Why? No internet appearance, trust and payment issues. Even if you´d trust a stranger with a lot of money, there still was no way to transfer it to Tanzania.

Book directly, safe money and ensure fair payment for the guides.

Book directly, safe money and ensure fair payment for the guides.

Seven days they spend together, walking, talking, learning. It was during one of these walks, when Adam opened up to Uwe about his sick mother, her pending surgery and his money problems. Exactly then, Uwe decided that he can do something: Enable Adam and Kilitours to accept international payments, to interact with international customers and to establish trust: Digitally!

Once home, he messaged a couple of friends and colleagues: a programmer, a friend who has done the tour and was willing to give a testimonial, and lots of professionals who advised on the design for website. He put up a Facebook page, send Adam cash for a Lap Top and a smartphone. He set up a Pay Pal account, with which customers can pay with One Click. Since there is no pay pal in Tanzania, Uwe transfers the money to Adam via Western Union.

In total, this cost Uwe about $2000 and time. He says, that it wasn’t only gratefulness or altruism pushing him, it was more the challenge of doing such a project from the beginning to the end. He definitely gained a friend, he says. Next year, he and his wife will return for a safari with Adam.

My personal note: Uwe is as unpretentious as one can be. He did not tell me the story at first, he just said how wonderful it is to meet people from other cultures. Last semester I sat in strategy classes, deeply impressed by many cases (for example the lady working for Danone who brought yoghurt in the least developed areas in Africa, nourishing children and enabling women). I always thought that I really want to be able to change someone´s life for the better at one point. How is the question usually popping up in my head.  Well, Uwe did it. He combined learning something new with helping someone who dearly needed the expertise Uwe had to offer. What an inspiring move; thank you, Uwe, for sharing this with me.


Eiswasser übern Kopf?!

Für Lesefaule: Warum schütten sich in Amerika haufenweise Menschen Eimer mit Eiswasser über den Kopf? Das ganze heißt Icebucket Challenge und erzeugt momentan rasend schnell Aufmerksamkeit auf eine schreckliche Nervenkrankheit.

ALS oder Lou Gehrig´s Disease

ALS, das ist Amyotrophe Lateralsklerose, eine neurologische Krankheit: Eine Zerstörung der motorischen Nervenzellen im Gehirn und Rückenmark führt zu Muskelschwund. Es gibt derzeit keine Heilung, Erkrankte sterben meist an einer Zwerchfell-Lähmung, sie ersticken.

Icebucket Challenge  

Du hast die Wahl: Einmal herausgefordert musst Du Dir innerhalb von 24Stunden einen Eimer mit Eiswasser über den Kopf schütten oder 100$ an die ALS Foundation spenden. Der Boston College Baseball-Spieler Pete Frates erhielt 2012 die Diagnose ALS und nominierte sich Mitte Juli 2014 selbst für den Challenge, und viele seiner Sportskollegen. Von Boston auch hat sich der Challenge vor allem in Amerika verbreitet:

"The Atlantic" zeigt, wie sich der Icebucket Challenge online verbreitet

Und was ist seitdem passiert?

  • die ALS foundation erhielt vom 29.Juli bis 16.August 11,4 Mio. Spenden. Im selben Zeitraum 2013 dagegen nur 1,7 Mio!
  • Witzig:
    • Ethal Kennedy, die Frau von Robert Kennedy, hat von Cape Cod aus Präsident Obama herausgefordert. Er twitterte, dass er sofort spenden würde.
    • Bill Gates hat sich eine Maschine gebaut für den Icebucket Challenge.
    • Boston hat einen Massen-Icebucket letzten Donnerstag veranstaltet und andere große Städte herausgefordert.
    • Ja, auch mich hat´s erwischt: Mein Studienfreund Mark hat mich diese Woche herausgefordert und ich habe pariert: Icebucket Challenge Franzi


  • 118.000Tweets zum #icebucketchallenge seit 15.Juli 2014.
  • “ALS” oder “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis” wurde seit dem Icebucket challenge deutlich mehr gesucht, wie der Google Trend zeigt:

Google Trend zu ALS in den letzten 12 Monaten


Natürlich kann der Icebucket Challenge die Erkrankten nicht heilen, aber er schafft Aufmerksamkeit und sorgt für ein erhöhtes Spendenaufkommen. Für mich persönlich bedeutet er aber auch noch etwas Anderes: Wie die digitale Welt Grenzen jeder Art ausblenden kann. Ich wurde von einem Mensch in Amerika herausgefordert; ich habe etwas mit Mark Zuckerberg, Justin Timberlake und Bill Gates gemeinsam und ich kann sofort sehen, wie viele andere Menschen auch mitmachen. Raum, Zeit oder Hierarchien spielten hier keine Rolle.


Vier Tage “raus”


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Für Lesefaule: Mit dem Fahrrad vier Tage durch Deutschland war für mich entspannender als ein Strandurlaub. Für die nächste Tour halte ich gute sowie schlechte Ideen fest… Gute Ideen: Strecke und Etappenziele vorher festlegen (insbesondere am Tag 3 habe ich … Continue reading

Projekt Würzburg – Kassel


This gallery contains 4 photos.

Für Lesefaule: Mit dem Fahrrad, ab morgen, 240km. Der Mensch braucht Ziele. Mein tomatenrotes Trek-Rad erhält bald ein “H”, so alt ist es schon. Das hält uns aber nicht ab, endlich mal eine Fahrradtour zu machen. In den letzten Wochen … Continue reading

Connecting worlds – who am I studying with in Boston?

Summary for the busy people: When you go to a grad school like Fletcher, you need to stop comparing yourself to others. It is easier to accept that you´re in a team and you have the privilege of knowing such a different bunch of people.

Here is the question I get asked a lot this summer: “So, who are you studying with?” That is not that easy to answer! My fellow companions are so unique and I want to give you some impressions of who they are and what they are doing during their summers. This is just a small selection of my class at Fletcher and I hope I can continue with “connecting worlds”-posts.

Maybe, my dear German friends,  if you like what they are doing, you might want to get in touch with them. Let´s face it: This world is all about networking and if I can be of any help, you know how to reach me.



  • UzairUzair, from Karachi. My favorite experience with Uzair: Delicious Pakistani homemade dinner with American soldiers and German Hefeweizen

I do not know why that smart man has ever worked at Deloitte, because for me he is the born politician. He currently interns at the Hudson Institute in D.C. , researching on national power parity between India and Pakistan. Uzair is patiently answering all my, sometimes stupid, white Western questions about Pakistan and Afghanistan. Personally, I think, somebody should offer him a tour through German schools. So he could tear down some stereotype walls!

This is not exactly where Uzair works right now, but close by ;-)

This is not exactly where Uzair works right now, but close by ;-)


  • Deepti Deepti, from Keralla. My favorite experience with Deepti: “Just one” drink in a karaoke bar in New Jersey.

She never stops working! And it is no wonder that she received a grant to intern in a developing country – Deepti went to educate Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka. We skyped once with the worst connection, but I have not found out yet, whether she encountered an elephant. She has now returned to New York from where she will head on a backpacking trip to Costa Rica and Panama.

Sunset in Colombo

Sunset in Colombo


  • Robert Robert, from Erfurt. My favorite experience with Robert: walking 50minutes through New York City rain, because the location we were looking for was “just a few blogs from here”

He.does.not.sleep! Robert and I lived in one tower on campus and I especially loved that occasional stopping by, that usually ended in foreign relations discussions lasting 2-3 hours. Robert spent June in Brazil, where I predict he will retire later in life and just started the 6-month prestigious Carlo-Schmid-internship program at NATO headquarters in Brussels.


  • AbhishekAbhishek, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. My favorite experience with “Abhi”: Building a snowman in the middle of the night.

Whenever I was falling in panic mode because of work load or existential life questions I couldn´t answer, there he was: calming Abhi. Rarely have I met a person who is as calm as he is. Abhi graduated this May and just moved to California to work for a technology start-up.

Abhi´s first sunset in Los Angeles.

Abhi´s first sunset in Los Angeles.


  • GeoffreyGeoffrey, Hartford. My favorite experience with “Geoff”: Spontaneous TV-show nights, mostly The Walking Dead.

Geoff is a Januarian, a Fletcher student who starts the master program in the Spring semester. Supposedly, Januarians have a harder time integrating – well, that cannot be proven with Geoff. He is very funny, spontaneous and he has the ability to critically reflect himself. Geoff interns for an energy company in Boston. He wants to focus on natural ressources security; I guess, we´ll need a lot of Geoffs in the future.

Geoff´s view was the complete opposite of his normal Blakeley Hall dorm view

Geoff´s view was the complete opposite of his normal Blakeley Hall dorm view


  • MarkMark, from Boston. My favorite experience with Mark: Watching the first game of the Red Wings – Bruins Stanley Cup Playoff games (it was my team, the Detroit Red Wings vs. his team, the Boston Bruins)

The all American hockey fan and I found out in our first conversation how much we love sports, good food and security studies. There is not really that much more you need to start a friendship ;-). I conclude after one year, that Mark and I basically agree to disagree on pretty much everything. I am moving in with Mark next year, so it will stay interesting. Mark focusses on security studies, especially American foreign affairs. It was his dearest wish that I mention how much he is in love with his state Massachusettes ;-).

This is Mark celebrating a Red Sox win at their biggest competitor´s stadium, the Yankee Stadium in New York.

This is Mark celebrating a Red Sox win at their biggest competitor´s stadium, the Yankee Stadium in New York.


  • EricEric, from Montreal. My favorite experience with Eric: Watching him in the kitchen – he is a food designer, his dishes look like art.

It is very unfortunate that Eric and I have no contact in classes, because I am the technology/security-person, and he is the international development person. People like him refer to students like us as war malds, whereas people like me refer to students like him as the humanity malds. Yes, the real world dysfunctions are displayed in the small Fletcher microcosm as well. Eric is so passionate about development, that I am really sure he will make a difference. He is currently in Liberia, working for a NGO. He is doing research for a social enterprise that will provide services for young people trying to find jobs or start their own businesses.

That is Eric :-)

That is Eric :-)

  • 1461871_10151743495486227_695587322_nNora, from Budapest. My favorite experience with Nora: Buying cheap Red Sox tickets, ending up in first class seats with Popcorn and Pumpkin beer.



Nora in the morning: Asking me in German, how I am. Chatting with our cleaning lady in fluent Spanish, turning around to greet somebody else in fluent French. If there is somebody predisposed to work for the United Nations, it is her. She has spent several years in Haiti, and is currently looked for an “in” into development consulting.

Nora at graduation

This is Nora with her boyfriend Janos at graduation.

  • Thomas, from Amsterdam. My favorite experience with Thomas: Singing “I will survive”

Thomas currently works with “Doctors without borders” in South Sudan. All I know from what´s app-conversations is: They are dealing with Cholera. Thomas has a super-long distance relationship to Australia.

This is where Thomas works right now.

This is where Thomas works right now.