Freedom Team Interview: Verena Wingerter in Focus
Meet our cool intern, Verena Wingerter, in the next episode of our Freedom Team interview! As a FNF scholarship student, she is excited to support the foundation's work in the region and to help promoting freedom and tolerance. Her favorite freedom quote is by Nelson Mandela: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Verena is a Governance student from Germany and specialized in security studies. She spent a year abroad at MGIMO, Moscow and has a high interest in East and Southeast Europe. Thank you, Verena, for your contributions to our Freedom Team in Sofia in the last months.
Please share a few words about yourself?
My name is Verena Wingerter from Germany. I study Liberal Arts and Sciences with the major Governance in Freiburg and will graduate this August. Thanks to the scholarship provided by Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, I could spend a year abroad at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO), where I specialised on security and strategic studies.In September, I will start the Master of International Affairs at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.
What have been your first impressions so far from your position in FNF?
I started working at the FNF Regional Office East and Southeast Europe and the Project Office Sofia in the end of May but I have been a scholarship student of FNF for several years. Hence, I knew the quality of seminars and publications and was curious to work at an international office to see how FNF supports liberal values abroad. My first impression from the office in Sofia would be that it is a liberal working atmosphere where everyone can pitch their ideas equally.
What is most interesting and challenging about your new position in FNF?
In the Project Office Sofia we closely monitor the political developments in Bulgaria and North Macedonia. Since North Macedonia signed the Prespa Agreement last year, the country is leaving international isolation and will soon join NATO. Also EU membership seems now more likely than ever before. For me it is very interesting to follow this process and to plan events in Skopje that evaluate the developments and future challenges.
Given your background so far, what and how would you contribute to the mission of FNF and pursuit of Freedom?
I am highly motivated in supporting the promotion of liberal values in East and Southeast Europe. Based on my academic background and my participation in many security seminars, I hope to contribute to a liberal perspective of security for the region.
Why is promotion of Freedom important to you?
Coming from Germany, I know how important freedom is for a society and the individual. While my grandparents suffered from an oppressive, inhuman, and authoritarian regime, I am lucky to live in a free society where I can make my own decisions and be my own person. But this cannot be taken for granted: In many countries, people are marginalised due to their gender, sexuality or religion. It is up to us to make a change so that people do not have to suffer from discrimination and can tap their full potential.
What does the “F” of FNF mean to you?
Freedom is a driver of progress. Freedom enforces human rights and abolishes discrimination for everyone.
But there is another word, which I would like to add in particular for this region: female. Freedom empowers women, who have been marginalised in history far too long, to demand equal rights and make their own decisions.
What is your Freedom quote?
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela