Bringing new perspectives: The Brandt School, making a difference locally, and the benefits of multiculturalism and diversity

Sabrina Zearott
MPP students at the Europawochen

With elections approaching in June, Erfurt is abuzz with activity – candidates’ posters on light posts, mailings from various parties, and more. For some people, there are nerves, or frustration at tram disruptions due to demonstrations. For Andrés Alberto Gallo, it’s a perfect time to engage with the city and the wider state of Thuringia.

Andrés is a Brandt School alum (MPP ’23) and its new Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator. He sees the  Brandt School as perfectly situated to make a positive impact in the region, especially with its highly diverse student population. This diversity, he says, is valuable in two ways: to democracy, and because the students at the Brandt School have a wide variety of skills and backgrounds that can be brought to bear on issues here and abroad.

These two benefits combined in April, when the Erfurt Theater hosted EUROPAWOCHEN 2024, which promoted democracy in the lead-up to elections. Andrés and a group of current MPP students were there to showcase several projects developed by students at the Brandt School: data workshops (working with Culture Goals Europe), a project on digitalization and vocational education, a report to the Thuringian government on discrimination, and more. He hopes these will help demonstrate the “different ways we are giving back, proving that multiculturalism/diversity is beneficial to a democracy…[to] show people in Erfurt that we are here from all these different countries and we are doing this.”


Contributing locally

Andrés sees the Brandt School’s diversity as holding great potential to assist the community and the region: “We are bringing students with expertise, very unique skillsets, very different perspectives, and they can make a difference here if we tap into it. It’s a school for changemakers.”

He wants to expand engagement. Currently, he says, “we should strengthen our relationships with people and organizations outside, people who would benefit from our expertise, skills, and social commitment.” For example, he points to “many people working with a lot of projects and initiatives that are really aligned with the School’s goals and our students,” such as humanitarian aid, sustainability, migration, and more. There is so much here, he says – “You would expect this more from a city like Berlin, a major city where you would have hundreds of NGOs.”

That’s what he wants to focus on: bringing Brandt School students to Thuringia, as well as Thuringia to Brandt School students. He wants to give people in the area more of a sense of what the Brandt School is doing and how our students can help, and wants students to be able to “start meeting people locally, not just have to think about major cities like Berlin, but also to see what is being done here” when it comes to, for example, internships. It’s up to the Brandt School, he says, “to think about what we can do as a school or as students” to contribute here in Thuringia.

There is interest in Erfurt: next month, says Andrés, the Lions Club is planning to join the Brandt School students at the June “Afterworks” get-together. “We’ve also had people from other organizations” – he can’t currently say which ones – “trying to expand the existing relationship between the school and the city, have students get more engaged with the city.”

Students, though, need to also reach out: “There are organizations in Thuringia – NGOs – that present a vast amount of opportunities for our students." It isn’t all NGOs or working on politics, either, if students want to focus on other fields: Haus der Americas connects people with Latin American culture, and Andrés gives the example of a project (carried out with the Henrich-Böll-Stiftung) that involved teaching a group of locals about Honduran food. (They were “very interested,” he says.) In nearby Jena, an NGO focuses on African energy sustainability. The list goes on.

Regarding the elections and different visions for Thuringia, he says, “it’s an opportunity for us to make a difference. We are learning in class about how to make a meaningful impact, but it doesn’t have to be all the way out in Africa, the Middle East, America – we can do it here also, try to make a difference…we are part of this community…and we should try to make this place a better place for everyone.”


About the Authors

Andres Alberto Gallo

Andrés Alberto Gallo, the Brandt School’s Marketing and PR Coordinator, is a Communication Sciences graduate from Honduras, arrived in Erfurt as a student in the Brandt School's 2023 class, specializing in Development and Socio-Economic Policy and Non-Profit Management and Social Entrepreneurship. Prior to his academic pursuits in Germany, Andrés was actively involved in the field of communication, leveraging his skills to contribute to various social projects in Honduras.

Sabrina Zaerott

Sabrina Zearott is a first-year MPP student at the Brandt School, as well as the Student Assistant Editor of the Bulletin blog and podcast. She specializes in International and Global Public Policy and Development and Socio-Economic Policy and is currently focusing on the clean energy transition. She has over a decade of communications experience (including an M.A. in communication), primarily as a freelance and staff writer, as well as design/editorial experience. She is originally from the United States.

~ The views represented in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the Brandt School. ~


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