Freedom Team Interview
Freedom Team Interview: Julia Grünthaler in Focus
Discover more about Julia Grünthaler, who worked in the Regional Office of FNF for East and Southeast Europe as an Intern from August until October.
My name is Julia, I’m 23 years old and I’m from a small town close to Koblenz, Germany. I’m about to finish my Bachelor’s degree in International Cultural and Business Studies at the University of Passau. In my studies, I focus on political science and international relations, economics and intercultural communication. I like to explore many different fields, so I chose an interdisciplinary study programme. Besides, I’m also a student tutor for economics, I teach about markets and competition.
Before coming to Sofia, I did a 3 month internship in Brussels, where I was working for the Representation of Rhineland-Palatinate to the EU. I discovered my passion for working in the non-profit sector during an internship at the German-American Institute in Saarbrucken and decided to choose another internship in that sector that is more closely related to my studies. After finishing my Bachelor’s degree, I would like to do a Master’s programme abroad that focuses on International Relations. In the future, I can see myself returning to work for FNF.
In my freetime, I do Yoga and read a lot. I also really enjoy travelling, cooking and art.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Curious, disciplined, and optimistic.
What have been your first impressions so far from your position in FNF?
I joined FNF east and Southeast Europe in the middle of August as an intern. My first impressions were very positive and everyone was very welcoming, so I felt at home from the beginning. I got to see the different areas FNF works in. My main area of focus was social media work and I learned a lot about the strategies to promote the foundation's work online, posting articles and translations. The internship allowed me to get more insight into politics in Bulgaria and in Southeast Europe in general and I'm very thankful for all the learning opportunities.
Share 3 fun facts about you?
1. I really like to cook. Middle Eastern food is my favourite, but I love trying food from other cultures in general. In Bulgaria, mekitsa, lutenitsa, and banitsa were my favourites.
2. I’m a native German speaker and I can also speak English, French, Spanish and some veeery basic Bulgarian now. I have always wanted to live abroad and this year, that dream finally came true. After living in Brussels for three months, now is my first time in Eastern Europe and I really liked living in Sofia!
3. Previously to my internship, I didn’t have Facebook and because I mostly did social media work, I had a lot to catch up on. Now, I not only know how to work with Facebook, but Youtube and websites too.
Which liberal values you are most passionate about?
I’m very passionate about European Integration, because during my time in Brussels I could really see how much positive impact working together can have, from the Schengen area to being able to study in any European country to having a common market.
The war has shown us the importance of the rule of law too, because it is the basis of an international order that respects national sovereignty and freedoms.
Lastly, freedom, because it allows everyone to do and to become who they want. I don’t know where or who I would be if I hadn’t had the freedom to choose my own path.
How would you describe your FNF career in three words?
Learn, grow, participate – during my short time in Sofia, I wanted to learn as much as possible! I think I accomplished that, thanks to many amazing opportunities and the great team here.
Do you have a favourite book that deals with freedom?
Free by Lea Ypi. I read it during my time here. It’s a memoir about growing up in the last days of soicalism in Albania in the 1990s and how the author experienced the transition period afterwards. It’s a very personal reflection about family, (intergenerational) trauma and discovering what freedom really means and it also dives deep into politics at the time. There were some very powerful quotes and I would highly recommend it.
What are some of your favourite memories during your internship here?
One of my favourite memories was attending a youth conference on the future of European values in the region in Krushevo, North Macedonia, where I got to represent FNF. I spent five days learning about politics in Eastern Europe, listening to panels and meeting passionate young people from various different countries. Being part of two workshops on storytelling and intergenerational dialogue was another highlight, because I gained some useful skills in these topics and the atmosphere there was very supportive. It also allowed me to meet colleagues from the other FNF offices in the region. I’m so thankful for all the experiences I had during my short time here and I will really miss my team.
What is your favourite freedom quote?
"You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom" – Malcolm X