www.martinnaef.ch / 1.2: Briefe > An Franck W., 19. August 2011

An Franck W., 19. August 2011

Hi Franck, Thank you for your rapid and strong reaction to Roberts code de conduit. So far Flory has not reacted to it and I haven't either. What you are saying raises some questions which I prefer to ignore. It's the christian background of Flory and Robert and the role this plays in the university. When I talked about this with Flory and Robert, everything seemed okay. Religion is private belief. The university is a place of dialogue ... They seemed to totally agree, but maybe that's only the surface. Maybe there is another agenda there, unconscious or even conscious, I don't know.. There were moments in our conversation, where I felt, that something is a bit strange and not quite in line with the official words about the issue.

The other thing I prefer to ignore is the   professional qualification and the inner strength of Flory and Robert. I think, Flory has a rather clear sense of what he wants in terms of education. But he is a bit weak or slow in regard to practical implications and actions. Robert is a leaf in the wind. They are both willing, but being willing may not be enough ...

You are right: Robert is adult and he is vice recteur of a university. He is not Helmar Menzi, 20 years of age ... and Flory, well, he is  nice and I still trust him (even with the whole christianity issue). I find him stronger and more convincing  than Robert, but he, too, is not very strong in producing concrete results in any practical way. He is in charge of improving our infrastructure ... well. He just doesn't seemm to be very practical and he doesn't seem to be well connected with the local people... I was always a bit surprised about this, surprised and slightly disturbed, because I am a stranger in town, but Flory and Robert ... ? They should know their ways around? they should be able to find a good and qualified computer support person or a competent electrician ... They should know how to deal with the city officials or the local power company, but no, they aare not. They seem almost as helpless as I am, not knowing, whom to talk to and how to talk etc. etc. Even Flory crumbles before "authorities". He is stronger in standing his ground, but he is not really  strong. When "the inspectors from Kinshasa" come, he gets as nervous as Robert and both of them are falling on their faces before the inspectors. (there was a surprise visit in early July. It felt like a sceene from 19th century Russia!)

So the questions I prefer to ignore are number one the issue of religion and number two the issue of qualification. Religion is dubious. In regard to qualification I know, I would love to have stronger guys in the leadership position. Robert makes a good secretary. He is nicely dressed and always present. But a vice recteur ...

But now there's Monsieur Martin ... He found this university, a project which touches a dream spot in himself. Developping a University with the people on the ground ... educational vision and practice! Something he always wanted to do ... Is he willing to look and say good bye? or do we have other options, for instance the option to replace Robert and/or Flory with new people? Are Flory and Robert willing to step back or step down and leave there position to somebody else. And where would we find this "some body else"?

So far I just assumed that I would work with Flory and Robert and do the best we can. I accepted their rather

inefficient ways, because they are here and they are "loyal" to the project... and because I didnn't feel like I have any options.

I think, I can tell Robert, that we should work on a Code de Conduit together, that this is (as you said) an interesting process, but that we had other, maybe more urgeant  things to do as well and that his proposal was raising many questions, that we needed to talk about... But can I really get into a discussion about these questions? Is it worth it? Would he understand. - You say, that I couldn't change or educate Robert (and it's also not my primary goal and interest). So why even start the discussion ... He may agree and nod his head, but inside he remains the fearful little boy rooted in the kind of dogmatic authoritarianism he displays in his "code de conduit".

Well, Franck. I got to go. the funny thing is, that these doubts come at a moment, in which we in Switzerland are at the hight of fundraising and networking efforts for PPU. So I have to pretend, that the thing is working and worht while, while inside I am full of doubts ... It's an exercize in selective authenticity I guess.

I was on television two days ago (just the local channal, but anyways). It was the first time in my life. Yesterday it was the local radio station. Today I was in the number one newspaper in the region.. Tonight we have a big public event presenting PPU and the Swiss Society of Friends of PPU and their support efforts. Yesterday I met a guy, who might give quite a bit of money. Tomorrow I will see Helmars father, who started the first post graduate program for workers in development at the ETH in the 1980s and who is still quite involved in the scene as Helmar said ... So it's all about networking and opening doors since weeks. I try to keep my doubts in the corner, but I am glad you put them in center stage with your mail. If PPU is nothing but illusion I better understand it now then in six months or three years. But I still want  to go back and find out... and I hope you will help me dig into the questions we need to dig into, when we look at our project.

Okay. I hope my mail doesn't sound too confused or rather: I hope it gives a clear enough picture of the confusion I feel!

Big hug to you and Cathrin - I hope you are doing fine and have a good time!

Thanks again for your reaction and your assessment of the situation.