"From Confused to Confident Liberal"
It was a wonderful experience. Everything about IAF is worth cherishing: the rooms, the food, the guest lectures, the entertainment and of course the sessions and discussions with the facilitators.
Liberal Impressions: When asked on the first day if I was a liberal, I stood in the corner for “I don’t know. I am yet to find out”. On the last day when we had to write positive points about the seminar and our stay at IAF, one of my positive feedbacks was, “From a confused liberal to a confident liberal”, which sums up my impressions of liberalism. Of course, there is a lot more to learn, but this seminar has given me a direction to wend my way further.
Lessons learnt: Oh! Plenty! An insight of how property rights (PR) can help solve the major world problems, how PR can make a person naturally accountable, how PR gives recognition to people in a society, how a good policy helps a country, how PR can help solve environmental problems, how liberals would solve a PR problem mainly related to environment, what would a sustainable environment be from a liberal’s perspective, how PR can help develop a free society, how a proper environmental policy would promote the judicious and sustainable use of the natural resources, what liberal thinkers have said, how some initiatives and innovations in Germany have led to sustainable use of natural resources. I can go on and on writing about what all things I learnt as there are so many.
Germany beyond Gummersbach: The best thing about Germany is “The German time”. I am really inspired by how everyone respects time. The people there are so active and always ready to help. They take care of their environment and are well educated about the fact that they need to keep it clean unlike what happens in other places, especially from where I come from.
Germany is lush green, it did not let me miss the beauty of Kashmir much, but it is a lot cleaner. The fruits and vegetables are rich, healthy and tasty. The food places are lovely; one would get any type of food she wants to eat.
In Cologne, I did not shop much (so “ungirly” of me!) But I enjoyed walking down the shopping streets and looking at all different kind of stuff: Watched an old lady, whose old man was waiting for her to finish, dance on the street to the song played by a refugee family. The whole family, kids to grandparents, was playing constantly to earn a few Euros. Enjoyed the boat ride of the Hamburg port; visit to the Hoff am Kolk farm; the north coastline, Warden sea; going to the top of the Elbphilharmonie and watching it from the boat also; the bus ride from the Academy to Hamburg and back and a lot more...
Shared experiences: The working group discussions we very fruitful. After every exercise I used to get enriched with different opinions and ideas, how my fellow batch mates dealt with the problems in their countries and whether applying those solutions in my country would work.
Discussions at the bar or in the lobby or at the dinner and lunch table were special. We not only discussed our sessions but also our cultures, similarities and differences in our countries, current problems and approach of different sections to different problems.
Going on walks with my friends, laughing and talking about what things we enjoyed doing. Enjoying simple things like looking at the beautiful dogs and going awww. Being on top of Elbphilharmonie and experiencing the strong thrust of the wind trying to take it with you and many more.
Personal and Official enrichment: Personally, I experienced love and care of people whom I had known for only 13 days who became my friends. It is really amazing how in spite of the difference in history, culture, religion, background etc. human nature is same all over the world. Professionally, I got an opportunity to meet and interact with the young liberal leaders from different countries. Now I feel like a part of the world liberal family.
Nusrat works with India Institute in New Delhi. She recently attended FNF-IAF's leadership program in Gummersbach, Germany on Liberals, Property and the Environment. In this report, she is sharing her personal thoughts.