The Curious Case of CGE
Internationality, diversity, constant renewal – these are words often muttered, praised and celebrated among the open-minded and yet, even among NGOs, CGE stands as a rare example for and true incarnation of these descriptors.
While happily located in Erfurt, Thuringia, our roots in internationalism go deeper than our connection to the idiosyncrasies of the free state’s capital city. Originally founded by chairman Markus Rebitschek and other members of Friedrich Schiller University Jena in 2005, the organization has since expanded significantly: Today, our managing director Zafar Saydaliev is Uzbek, and the office is currently crewed by people from Bosnia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, Portugal, Ukraine and, yes, one German. When last we checked, activists from 13 countries on 4 continents were involved in ongoing projects of our organization.
Throughout its life, nothing has been as much a part of CGE as change, both in terms of the trainings, youth exchanges and other opportunities we offer and the teams that provide them. An official host organization in the European Voluntary Service/European Solidarity Corps since 2010, we have a long history of giving our newest members a welcoming environment and the guidance needed to settle in.
After more than 10 years and 100 projects under our belt (either organized by us, or with our active support), it has become clear that the degree of our internationality in content, approach and personnel is both our strongest asset and an occasional challenge. In a country with only one official language (German) our office language is English, in a state with 2% foreigners ours is 86% and where 70% of the population live in rural areas, we live and work in the only city with more than 200.000 inhabitants.*
Thus, we have found ourselves as occasional representatives and ‘international locals’ that get to voice points of view and contribute to society not with, or for, but as internationals. We truly do come and follow approaches from outside of the local ‘box’. Not coming from any one specific background, we are well aware that our contributions to life in Thuringia are unique in their very nature.
As one can imagine, this makes our offices in Erfurt an even more special place in an otherwise oft – and falsely! – overlooked city. So, why don’t you join us – for one of our seminars, our monthly movie nights or just for a chat?!