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"When one goes to space, they come back half a foot taller "

Updated: May 16, 2023

Growing up in a traditional German upper-middle-class family, she had dreams that went far away from the contemporary expectations of that time. It was a time of expected conformity when both men and women observed strict gender roles and complied with society’s But there were a few women in her family who rebelled and challenged the norms. Her aunts were the first women with driving licenses in their region; driving a car was the epitome of freedom and courage at these times.

Her mother was a real role model for independence. 32 years old, she married a young, 10 years younger man. A marriage like this was a kind of revolution, and it lasted for 60 years.

She has never accepted things just because people say or expect her to. For her, breaking free from these societal restrictions was like starting to breathe. At a very young age, she learned to explore her own environment and take responsibility for making things happen. During her childhood, her parents both worked full-time. As a result, she was left on her own, and she loved it.

For her, it was the start of her travels—internally and externally—as an observer and an initiator. The adventures were simple and everywhere. And she found in her aunt a fellow who opened to her the world of art, theatre, music, and traditional handcraft, as well as the world of plants and flowers. Her aunt was one of the first women in the Rhineland to set up a b2b flower and plant wholesale enterprise. At 4 o’clock in the morning, they went together to the flower sale fair to choose the plants and give the orders. It was a whole universe for her. Flowers in shapes and colors she has never seen before.. An exotic smell covered the corridors. The afternoons they spent mostly in theatres. The artists pulled her into their timeless worlds, love affairs, burden, and joy.

This cultural exposure ended suddenly with the death of her aunt. Luckily, her mother found a high school that focused on languages, science, and art. The stat was not easy because she was much too independent; always asking questions with the intention to explore. Nothing is like it seems. Entering high school she thought she would enter a miraculous space that contains all the knowledge about ancient cultures, the beauty of nature, the stars in the galaxy, and the deep mysteries of the oceans.

The reality of the situation smashed her back to earth. The linear strict structured system of education was not meant to develop critical thinkers or creative minds outside of the box. She found her escape and inspiration in art, music, and in learning languages. For her Latin, Greek, and Old German Poetry were not dead at all but full of lively stories and wisdom. "Playtime" was at chemistry and physics lessons. She expanded her understanding of societal structures, politics, and philosophy. All these different disciplines made perfect sense to her in playing together just with another empathy regarding time and focus. More than everything else she understood the gratefulness and the privilege of having access to all this knowledge and learnings.

Her father, a former world champion in rowing, exposed her to the sport and she started to play tennis. She had only a little talent but she loved the challenge and she was willing to push herself and the team forward. Finally, at fourteen, she became one of the youngest players in the highest women league. The sport helped her understand the power of momentum and to develop a team spirit. Moreover, she had the chance to become financially independent and to do what she desired: traveling, exploring and studying international law. During her international law studies, she took every chance to study in foreign countries. She always saw a big necessity for young people to step outside of their boxes. Whenever they do it can be seen as a sort of a rite of passage where they have an opportunity to manifest new things in their lives through real life and well-reflected interactions. This developed understanding is needed, especially given the inherent interconnectedness of everything and the growing disconnection due to digital technologies and the general flow of society. She has lived and worked in over 40 countries on nearly all continents. These experiences were often extended in duration enabling her to build relationships and get to know the culture around her. Most recently she has been able to explore the enigma of Latin America, India, and Africa. These different environments tested her and, paradoxically, brought her closer to her cultural roots and connection with her life purpose. Through many reflections during her life and career journey, she learned to absorb new environments, sometimes by just observing and sometimes by initiating, but mostly by connecting with people. They led her. She is learning to listen and to let things flow as they are. Since she founded Theia International, she has spent nearly 70% of her life moving from one place to another. THEIA is designed to identify, inspire, and enable young people and send them out into uncharted territories of new ideas and insane potential. We are talking about young people who are ambitious, think systemically, and follow a moral compass. They are able to act responsibly on any terrain, find solutions to emerging challenges in harmony with their environment, and accompany others on the path to realising the vision of a humane and sustainable world. These young people will design solutions to our global problems—climate change, economic inequality, violence, and war, to name but a few of the most urgent. They are ready to become sustainable members of the evolving circular and regenerative future and the wider, interconnected world.

Her understanding of the world as an open and exciting learning space is based on her experiences in a 20-year career in advising a wide range of companies and entrepreneurs in times of big change. With Theia, she connects traditional wisdom with innovation to create a sustainable future for youth all over the world. With increasing automation and in times of constant change, mindfulness and growth thinking, networks, and diversity as intercultural experiences will become more and more important in life- and career-building occupational fields in the coming years. Even more important is that these skills will be necessary to be able to enter every new area of the rapidly developing circular economy in a lively and happy manner and to bring about lasting changes. We are talking about young people who are ambitious, think systemically, and follow a moral compass. They are able to act responsibly on any terrain, find solutions to emerging challenges in harmony with their environment, and accompany others on the path to realising the vision of a humane and sustainable world.

To design these new learning and exploring spaces, she has to be out of space by herself. Whenever she is on her way, she is in a special state of mind. All her senses are awake. She feels the connection to the places, the age-old wisdom, and the spirits of the people she meets. She finds the natural state of her mind. Moving like this fuels her creativity and emboldens her gratefulness... And yes, the one who goes out to space comes back half a foot taller.

Shared by Anja Carron, Founder & President -Theia International.e.V,

Global Chair - Circular Economy.

Posted by Dr. Rumi Borah

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