“The free spirit will not be ousted”

Expat scientists in the US from countries like India or Egypt are increasingly interested in research opportunities in Germany; some of them feel alienated by the political climate under the Trump administration. They were among the largest groups among the 550 scientists who met at the Annual Conference of the German Academic International Network (GAIN) in San Francisco.

Published by the German Acedemic Exchange Service (DAAD) in English >>  and in German >>, September 2017

Determined, Ragwa Elsayed wriggles through the ranks of exhibitors who are vying for her attention. The German Sport University invites visitors to play table tennis, the Goethe University Frankfurt offers tote bags sporting its eponym’s portrait, and free coffee can be had everywhere. Elsayed stops at the stall of the Free University of Berlin. “Do you offer any programs related to kidney research?” she asks in English. The employee writes down her mail address and promises to put her in contact with the Faculty of Medicine.

With her red headscarf, the 28-year-old native Egyptian stands out. She currently pursues her second Master’s degree at San José State University but is already looking for a PhD program in Germany. “Since US President Donald Trump agitates against Muslims, some people in San José act hostile toward us,” she says. Some of her friends are affected by Trump’s travel ban for six Muslim-majority countries. “Fortunately, I’m commuting from San Francisco. Here I feel respected – but in many parts of the US, the mood has changed for the worse.”

Read further on the DAAD website in English >>  or in German language >>