Johannes Bertram Experience at FNF Beirut

Opinion14.06.2017Johannes Bertram
internship FNF Lebanon Experience

Johannes Bertram

Intern FNF Beirut ( March-May 2017)
  • Who are you? (Where do you come from and why did you look for an internship with FNF Beirut?)
    My name is Johannes Bertram. I am from Berlin and spent two and a half months at the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation in Beirut. I really enjoyed the time here, especially because of the many liberties the foundation gave me. Originally, I am a student of Islamic Studies at the Freie Universität of Berlin but my interest here we mainly concerning economics. I applied for the FNF because I wanted to improve my Arabic and to examine how they approach  and influence politics in Lebanese politics. At the beginning, I had a quite socialistic perspective on things, but during the internship I developed my views to a more differencated level and recognized the achievements of liberalism. My time here made me passionate about the values of self-responsibility and the liberal way of thinking. I realized that these two principles can show us the path towards success and a more responsible and inclusive society. The self-responsibility I was required by my mentor Dirk Kunze provided me with a better understanding of the working environment.
  • What were the two most important/exciting/interesting things you worked on while being with FNF Beirut?
    The most exciting thing was the workshop of the Freedom Academy in cooperation with the FNF. Here I really had a deep dig into the mechanisms of the Lebanese society and the opportunity to listen to excellent Arabic. The event had a big influence on the text I wrote for the FNF Website. Another unique experience was the social start-up summit. I met many interesting personalities there and got really attracted by the optimistic atmosphere. 
  • What was different in Lebanon and Beirut and the office from what you expected before you came?
    The level of prices. I went to Egypt before and I had completely different expectations. Also I expected to be more outside of the office and do more with people. I thought that I would get more in touch with refugees, but I soon I´ve realized that refugees in Lebanon are quite dispersed and hard to approach. The main competence of the FNF is to think about a strategical integration of the refugees and this needed a lot research and office-work.
  • Would you do this internship again? If so, what would you do different?
    Of course I would, since I´ve leared a lot in these months. The problem was that the learning process wasn´t continuously. Outside and inside the office, the work pressure was high. I had to write papers almost permanently. I would recommend everyone to go to Lebanon at least one week before the internship starts. This time is very useful to get used to the country and learn to navigate around the city. Interns should lower their expectations about the work of the foundation. It is unlikely that one will have a visible impact on anything. Political work is hard work and requires a practcal approach instead of ideological motivation. I think the FNF does an excellent job in Beirut and everywhere as an advocate of liberalism. I am definitely going to support the idea of liberalism and will try my best back home to convince my closest friends to re-think their political views on liberalism.