“Establish real partnerships”

​Selina Diaby has been studying “International Security” in Paris since the winter semester 2019/2020 with a focus on peace and conflict research. Before that, she did an internship lasting several months at the Baden-Württemberg Development Cooperation Foundation (SEZ). In an interview with Burundi Nouvelles, she talks about her experiences at the foundation and her motivation to get involved in socio-political matters.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Oh, that's a difficult question that isn't easy to answer. I would say I am interested, human and goal-oriented.

You have submitted an unsolicited application directly to the SEZ’s Burundi Competence Center. How did that happen?

By chance, while doing an internet search about the relationship between Germany and Burundi, I came across the SEZ homepage. That was during my semester abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. When I arrived back in Tübingen, it turned out that my roommate Hannah was currently doing an internship with you. And then I decided, I'll just give it a try and bang, it worked. I was very happy about that. At the same time, the SEZ appealed to me because of its approach to development cooperation; It's about establishing real partnerships and not, as is so often the case, helping.

How did you experience your internship at SEZ?
I found my internship to be very varied and educational in many ways. In addition to my work in the Burundi Competence Center, I also had the opportunity to get to know other areas of the SEZ and gained various insights. I liked that very much. In particular, the internship gave me access to places and experiences that would otherwise have been closed to me. I also felt very welcomed in the SEZ team and had the feeling that I was valued right from the start.

Was there anything that particularly surprised you or that you didn't expect? If so, what was that?

What surprised me most was how much work the SEZ team handles alone and within such a wide range of activities; whether in the area of ​​global learning, the Burundi Competence Center, project funding in general or through the “My. Your. One World. During my internship, I also became aware once again of how much politics ultimately lies behind development policy work and how important it is to develop the ability to classify the actions of the various actors and their interests.

You are active in the group Black Visions and Voices in Tübingen. What motivates you to get involved socially and politically?

I've actually always been committed; as a child in the riding club, in my youth at the soup kitchen, in the retirement home and at the university, first in the student council and then in the student council. For me, this is part of life, because supporting each other is only human.
I'll be completely honest; Social or political engagement can also take up a lot of energy, strength and time, but you get it all back to the same extent or usually even more when you see what positive effects your own actions can have. As part of my involvement with Black Visions and Voices, an empowerment group run by black people for black people in Tübingen, I organized a panel discussion in mid-July. That evening, in the presence of around 60 guests, the question of what value we give to black lives in Europe, Germany and Tübingen was discussed. The event was incredibly great because it offered space for perspectives that would otherwise not be taken into account and also represented a place for exchange between those affected and those interested.

What do you personally take away from your internship?

Definitely a deeper understanding of development cooperation in practice and development policy in general. After graduating from high school, I completed a one-year voluntary service in Ghana and was able to pick up fragments in this area through my work in and especially with the final broadcasting organization. However, the internship at the SEZ gave me a more intensive picture due to the direct involvement, but of course also one from the perspective of the German side.

Selina also made a music video with her group. “This is Germany” is a film that aims to make everyday experiences of discrimination visible. More info:


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