Development Work around the world an Interview with Dr. Klaus Poser

Dr. Klaus Poser was a development worker with the Evangelical Church of Germany all around the world. He spent time in Colombia, Togo, USA and Switzerland and visited many other countries.

  1. What did you study and how did you learn English?

I grew up in North Germany and learned English in school during my childhood and went to a boy scout camp in England after the war. During my time in England I was surprised of the positive feedback even as a German. Mainly this was due to the compassion they had for understanding what had happened in Germany during the war. I then went to University in Innsbruck, Austria to study Economics. During my time there I heard about the “Social Market Economy” of Professor Walter Eucken in Freiburg, Germany. I decided to go to Freiburg but on arrival learned that he had been dead since a year. I spent some time there as an assistant professor. When I heard of a course in Bologna from the Johns Hopkins University I decided to join and studied at its School of Advanced International Studies with 3 Germans, 3 French, 18 Americans and 12 Italians, therefore quite similar to Global Governance.

  1. In what type of organizations did you work?

As a development worker for the Protestant Central Agency for Development Aid we worked together with churches and agencies in many different countries. I led this organization for 16 years and when there was change in Geneva they asked me to come and work for the World Council of Churches. In the Council, I was head of the Commission for Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service. A very fascinating work, of how to build an open and peaceful world with open societies.

  1. What was the biggest success during your time at the Protestant Central Agency for (evangelical central office) Development AID (assistance) (EZE)?

Among many others; South Korea was the biggest success. During my time we spent 150 million German Mark to improve education, medical services and other areas. We built and supported a technical college in Suwon, South Korea. The city now has the headquarter of Samsung and the people in the country have such an incredible ambition that they developed their country to what it is today.

  1. Your opinion about the United Nations?

In general, we usually see the big picture of politics and decisions of the United Nations but we forget the people who work on the front and even risk their life. When we denunciate the big picture we tend to disrespect these people. But we need organizations such as the UN to bring transparency and especially a general approach to peace. But the UN can´t just go in and decide to bring peace between two countries, we need a basis for dialogue. The difficulty in this is how to get people to start this dialogue. But if we now have leaders such as President Trump that alarm our world and make dialogue even more difficult the job of the UN and its employees becomes almost impossible. Especially, with people such as Trump who question world peace, disrespect the UN and their main function.

  1. Could you describe your dream for our world and the global future?

During my time in Geneva we always worked together with other countries and we helped each other out. But now I feel like people are distancing themselves more and more. I dream of a peaceful world with open boarders where we see each other as individuals. I will never understand when people discuss about starting nuclear wars, what is the point of it? As said before if we keep going like this we won´t live much longer.

  1. What do you do now living in Freiburg, Germany during your retirement?

That’s not so easy to answer. I am trying “to save” the church and trying to incite people: If we keep going on like this, we will be dead by tomorrow; trying to fight climate change and save (the) Creation. For this reason, we have set up an initiative circle called “Laudato Si”, which is based on (the book written by) Pope Francis’ Enzyklika and Call for the Paris Conference. We discuss the fact that we need to perceive the creation and bring this topic back into different groups. Regarding my work in the Church we are trying to address a generation problem. There is an A-Team organizing summer camps and trying to bring young members into the church but there is not enough or almost no dialogue between the younger and older generation. I will be egocentric and talk about myself but we must ask ourselves: What will we do with the elder generation, like me? Or, how to foster a neighborhood, a community of prayer and worship and of sharing and working together? During my work with the World Council of Churches I saw that other countries put these two parts together and in many discussions I am trying to request that we talk about this option also for Germany. Therefore, when you ask me what I do? Trouble, I complain about what is not going well and request change.

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