International students enrich the German university landscape. In recognition of their contribution to our universities, the DAAD brought into being an award for outstanding achievements by foreign students. This prize not only acknowledges students’ outstanding academic achievements, but also their civic engagement and contribution to the intercultural exchange. But there is more to it: The DAAD award is intended to portray foreign students and to tell their stories. The students often take a "piece of Germany" with them to their home countries and leave something of themselves in Germany. In this context, the Vice President for International Affairs at the University of Potsdam, Prof. Florian J. Schweigert, speaks of "Internationalization at Home". In the video portrait of this year’s award winner, he states that the internationalization of a university is not only about sending its own students abroad to gain experience; students from other countries coming to Potsdam also enrich the academic and social life here thanks to the different perspectives they provide.
This year's winner of the DAAD Prize, Juan Camilo Ceballos Oviedo, convinced the Advisory Board for Internationalization of the University of Potsdam thanks to his outstanding academic achievements in combination with his commitment to political and social issues. Two areas are particularly important to him: strengthening the rights of the LGBTQ community and fighting against corruption in politics and administration. The Colombian, who was nominated by Prof. Sabine Kuhlmann, is in his fourth semester in the master’s programme National and International Administration and Policy (MA NIA). What she finds so intriguing about this year's award winner is the way he combines his civil society involvement in different areas of life. Not only does he volunteer for transparency in politics and administration; he has also worked in this field in Mexico and Colombia before coming to Germany. He can now draw on this enormous wealth of knowledge and experience when writing his master's thesis on the subject of financing election campaigns and their effects on the risk of corruption in Colombia.
Two factors played a decisive role in the Colombian's choice of study location: the University of Potsdam's outstanding reputation in political and administrative sciences and the opportunity to look at these issues from an international and comparative perspective. The unique location of the campus between state and federal capital enables him to observe governmental and administrative activities in Germany at all levels. Juan Ceballos, who comes from the megacity of Bogotá, also enjoys the proximity to Berlin, a vibrant and multicultural city.
Prof. Geert Bouckaert, who got to know Juan Ceballos during his guest professorship at the University of Potsdam, supported the nomination with a letter of recommendation. In his former function as President of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IIAS) and the Regional Group for Europe EGPA he can only confirm the importance of international cooperation. He hopes that the DAAD award will inspire other young and committed people to take responsibility for our society. According to Geert Bouckaert, this is extremely valuable in times when new movements in Europe threaten to shake the foundations of our democracy and rule of law.
After completing his studies, Juan Ceballos is aiming for a doctorate in Germany in order to take a closer look at the topic of corruption. But for the time being he is very happy and grateful for the recognition he received from the DAAD Prize, which has given him new impetus in writing his master thesis.