On 15 May 2015, Freie Universität Berlin Cairo Office celebrated its fifth anniversary. More than 80 invitees, representatives of partner universities, alumni, professors and students gathered in the garden of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to attend the ceremony.
In his words of greetings, Dr. Roman Luckscheiter, Head of DAAD Cairo and the Director of the German Science Center (DWZ) emphasized the role of Freie Universität Berlin Cairo Office as a strong pillar of the DWZ. For our Egyptian friends and partners it would be very attractive to have the opportunity to meet one of the few Universities of Excellency in Germany, which - according to its title - stands for freedom. The Secretary General of the DAAD, Dr. Dorothea Rüland - who five years ago was directly involved in establishing the office – sent her best wishes to the attendees and congratulated Freie Universität for the first five successful years in Cairo.
Hansjörg Haber, Ambassador of the Federal Republic to Egypt thanked the office for its valuable contribution to German-Egyptian cooperation in the field of science. The German Ambassador stressed on the excellent reputation of Freie Universität in Germany, especially in the humanities and social sciences: "The success story of FU Berlin shows that the concept – of academic independence on the one hand and student representation on the other – is highly beneficial to innovation. FU Berlin is an excellent example of how academic freedom produces innovative research for the benefit of society. In spite of its comparatively young age, FU Berlin has succeeded to be counted among the best German universities". The Cairo Office has done a lot to bring this academic spirit to Egypt: "Within the framework of our transformation partnership program, some of the most successful and impressively courageous projects were those initiated and executed by FU Berlin".
Dr. Herbert Grieshop, Head of International Affairs, and also involved in the opening of the office in 2010, welcomed the guests on behalf of the President of Freie Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt. Dr. Grieshop stressed the importance of international cooperation for Freie Universität from the day it was founded in 1948 until today. He emphasized the dense links with Egypt and the Middle East through the great variety of studies and research on Egypt at FU Berlin. The office would have been a particular successful example of the universities liaison office strategy, especially in initiating new partnerships and attracting PhD candidates to FU Berlin.
Dr. Florian Kohstall, Head of Freie Universität Berlin Cairo Office, welcomed the different guests. He expressed his great pleasure of working intensively together with partners, professors and students of Egyptian universities. Throughout the last five years, the office could intensify existing partnership and establish new ones. It engaged in crucial activities with different departments and helped to bring many students to FU Berlin. In addition it intensified the mobility of students from FU Berlin to Egypt. From student counselling to preparing funding applications, from organizing lecture series to welcoming researchers, the office has now a large portfolio. Fulfilling the mission is only possible through the dense cooperation with the Egyptian partners, the German Embassy and the partners of the German Science Center. "I hope our cooperation will grow and continue in the next 5 years as strong and lively as it has been", Kohstall concluded.
Prof. Dr. Beatrice Gründler, Chair of Arabic Studies at Freie Universität Berlin enriched the evening with a Keynote Speech on the topic: "Arabic – From the World, to the World". In her lecture she illustrated how – from the very early times – different literature genres have travelled from one region to the other, being transmitted or originated in the Arabic Language. After the lecture, Prof Hazem Abdelatif, counsellor for International Affairs at Ain Shams University honored Dr. Kohstall with a medal of distinction from the university in the name of the dean of the faculty of engineering and the students of the faculty. At the reception in the garden guests and participants had time to exchange their experiences and to talk about more cooperation in the future.