Alumni Portrait: Rami Johann - "Integration does not come easy"

2020-12-07 Rami Johann fled from Iraq to Germany in 2002. Seven years later, he studied political and cultural sciences at Leuphana and is now about to defend his doctoral thesis at the University of Vechta.

Leuphana alumni Rami Johann with his dissertation. ©Yousry Hammed
Leuphana alumni Rami Johann with his dissertation on “Empire Formation in the 21st century".

"In the Café 'Plan B' at Leuphana Campus I developed the core idea of my dissertation. I will never forget this moment," says Rami Johann. Last October, he presented his theory on "Empire-building in the 21st century" at an international conference of the subject "International Relations" in Freiburg.

Shortly after his arrival in Germany in 2002, he hardly believed that an academic career lay ahead of him. "The path to university was almost impossible for me. Back then, there weren't many opportunities for refugees. My foreign certificates were not recognised; I had to retake all of the exams," says Johann. In 2009, he finally gained the general higher education entrance qualification and enrolled to study Political Science and Cultural Studies in Lüneburg. "These seven years of waiting have left their mark on me. Integration does not come easy. It requires the willingness of both sides - society and the person who wants to integrate." 

Johann already knew at the beginning of his studies that he wanted to focus on "International Relations". He had his goals firmly in mind. "The Federal Foreign Office and diplomatic training were unrealistic as a start. For this reason I had to take a diversion. The Bachelor's programme at Leuphana was an essential building block of my career," says Johann. He received support from both professors and the Career Service. His former professor Dawid Friedrich enabled Johann to do an internship at the Centre for the Study of Democracy (ZDEMO). "Professor Ferdinand Müller-Rommel and Professor Dagmar Bussiek also often gave me advice on my future plans," says Johann. At the Career Service, he received assistance from the director Ilka Buecher in counselling sessions and in checking his application documents. This was followed by a Master's programme at the University of Vechta, followed by a teaching position and a dissertation on "Theory of 'Empire Formation' in the 21st Century - A Theory-Driven Research Approach to Considering Current Phenomena in International Relations". 

Despite numerous hurdles that had to be overcome, Johann never lost his motivation: "Everything begins with a dream. The opportunity to take the A-levels was a decisive turning point. I developed a strategy to achieve my dream. The impossible is an illusion."