This week we got the sad news that our former colleague and Bremen-based friend Emma had passed away. She was never a person for great publicity or to make a great show of herself. On the contrary - she wanted to stay at the backstage without making fuss of herself, but always ready to help the others. Therefore, I just call her by her first name - to respect her privacy also now after she is gone. (The ones who knew her, are aware of whom I am writing - others will get a picture of a respectable person, even if they didn't learn to know her.)
I firstly learned to know Emma when she joined ITB to support the Europrof project in the mid-1990s. The project was an ambitious transnational project that sought to reform the training of VET professionals with emphasis on 'social shaping' of work, technology and work environment. In this context the partners sought points of intervention and supporting ideas, how to bring innovations into move. Then, after this project Emma worked for the Forum network to bring together different thematic sub-nets (on changing institutions, changing labour markets, changing organisations, changing vocational identities etc.) to common work processes. Later on, she was also supporting some other ITB projects of which I have less information.
Emma had a degree from her home country but having entered Germany as an expatriate she was very modest about it. So, she preferred to work as an administrative assistant rather than looking for a a more visible role. Yet, her presence as a colleague was sensed when she was involved - and missed when she was not there.
Later on Emma chose to take another perspective for her life and withdraw from the work in our projects. This was a very private matter and therefore I will not go further with this topic. All I need to say is that in the new role that Emma opted for herself she was 100% present and even more.
Every now and then we managed to meet with friends of old from the European projects and it was always a pleasure to me and to others. Sometimes we also had the chance to experience, what kind of great cook she was.
Recently, when great numbers of refugees came to Germany - and also to Bremen - Emma engaged herself in teaching German language to refugees. As an expatriate who had learned the language fluently, she was in a good position to assess what kind of difficulties the newcomers were facing.
Emma was still young and active when she was hit by the disease that took her life. We all feel sorry for the loss of such a person and express our condolences to her beloved ones. I hope that the musical greetings of the grande mama Mercedes Sosa and her fellow artists (see the links below) pass a message to them! (And I hope that the videos are not littered by inappropriate commercials.)