You have probably asked yourself what former international SBW Berlin scholarship recipients actually do after they have completed the scholarship program and returned to their home countries. What happens then to their social projects? Do the graduates continue working on them? Are there any differences between the project work within the home countries of the alumni and their previous project work in Berlin?

An interview with SBW Berlin graduate Enrique Luna

We recently spoke about this with one of our graduates, Enrique Luna, who, after successfully completing the SBW Berlin scholarship program in spring 2023, returned to his home country of Mexico and has continued his social engagement there ever since. As an artist, he combines his passion for jazz music with a deep motivation to help others through and with music. In recent months, his concerts have also taken him to very remote places – to rural regions of Mexico. He not only performed his own music there, but also organized various workshops for children and young people interested in music, who otherwise rarely get the opportunity to take part in such events due to the remoteness of their homes. In our interview, Enrique told us how he is progressing with his “Música y Movimento” project in Mexico, which was conceived in Berlin, and what challenges he is facing there with regard to the further development of the project.

Enrique’s tips on networking

First of all, we wanted to know how Enrique was doing and how his visit to Germany had gone so far. So we asked him to choose a color that would best describe his mood. He immediately replied “light blue” and “intense orange.” We were curious and wanted to find out more, because these two colors were very different. He explained that he felt very calm and relaxed – hence the “light blue” – but that the last few days had also been very emotional and upsetting for him – hence the “intense orange”. At the beginning of April, he organized a big concert in Mexico City to present his new album. He then flew to Germany to attend a jazz festival in Bremen. He not only wanted to listen to the music of other artists, but also to present his own and make new contacts. He revealed that although as a musician – whether as a solo artist or as part of an ensemble – he is of course often on stage and playing in front of an audience, he also finds networking stressful and sometimes even frightening. You have to be able to present your work well so that important people find it interesting and offer their support. In such nerve-wracking situations, however, Enrique says that you simply have to carry on despite the fear and are then rewarded with the knowledge that you have overcome such situations on your own. Of course, you can also be a little proud of yourself, says Enrique.

Differences between project work in Berlin and Mexico City

During his time in Berlin, Enrique was very socially involved as an SBW Berlin scholarship holder and worked with various social/non-profit organizations, including Diakoniewerk Simeon and GSTBT. So of course we also wanted to find out how Enrique’s project work in Mexico is going and what he is currently working on. According to Enrique, it was initially difficult to be as proactive in the social sphere in Mexico as it had been in Berlin. In Berlin, there was a structure that followed his project and a routine of offering workshops and events at various organizations. In Mexico, he first had to get an overview and find out how he could best implement his project and the activities he had created. He therefore initially concentrated on his music and concert appearances. Gradually, workshops were added in which he talked about music and its effect on emotional regulation and prepared activities for this again. However, the target group of his project changed in Mexico. In Berlin, Enrique explained, the participants in the workshops were from vulnerable marginalized groups due to the cooperation with the social/non-profit institutions. In Mexico, children and young people often take part in the workshops. Although Enrique also thinks this is important, he is currently looking for opportunities to work with social institutions in Mexico City to help other marginalized groups.

Enrique’s plans for the future

When asked about his future plans as a musician and, to a certain extent, as a project manager in the social sector, Enrique revealed that he would like to continue doing what he is currently doing, but hopes to get even better at it. He would like to continue making music, traveling and presenting and implementing his social project “Música y Movimento” with the help of workshops in other countries around the world. He hopes that many people will be given the opportunity to express themselves through music and movement, to express their feelings and, if necessary, to learn to regulate them.

Finally, we asked Enrique what three words would best describe his experience in Mexico after his return and the work on his social project. After a moment’s thought, he replied: rediscovery, joy and vision.

Impact stories and other social projects by other graduates

If you would like to learn more about Enrique’s social project or projects of other graduates of the SBW Berlin scholarship program, please visit the Impact Stories section on the SBW Berlin website. We also post regular updates on the projects on our social media.