Northern Iraq – Beyond the Headlines
The evening’s host, Katie Gallus, is a geographer, explorer, and moderator with a massive crush on all things digital. Most recently, she traveled through Kurdistan and Northern Iraq. During her walks through the region’s streets, in the wilderness along borders, while visiting to co-working spaces, and in spontaneous conversations over tea or in taxis, she came to understand the very different realities of life in this war-torn region. Hopelessness meets hope. Within the nuances of contrasts, she met a young generation of digital influencers, “change makers,” and artists who left a deep and inspiring impression.
Katie hails from a family farm in the south of Germany and is filled with wanderlust. She worked for German public broadcasters Deutsche Welle, SWR (ARD) and ZDF before joining for the United Nations in New York City. Following her passion as an explorer and storyteller, she did research work in the Caucasus of Georgia, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, and most recently in Iraq. She’s lived in Cameroon among cocoa plantations and in Sierra Leone working alongside filmmakers. Katie is a sought-after presenter on subjects of digital ideas in development, climate change, agriculture, world food security, and development policy.
Syria was once a major and much-loved travel destination, but over the past seven years the worlds has become accustomed to scenes of wrecked streets and cities. There was fighting in parts of Damascus too, but not many are aware that the center and most suburbs of this ancient city are virtually untouched. Locals go about their daily business and are delighted to see foreign tourists coming back. As the south and west of Syria return to some kind of normality, adventurous travelers are slowly returning too. Jeroen will reveal what travelers today can see and experience, delve into history – like why Emperor Wilhelm II brought a marble grave to Damascus during his visit in 1898. He’ll also cover the basics: how to get there, the safety of the city, and answer the question of just how good the food is.
Jeroen is a Berlin-based travel writer and editor with twenty years of experience working for Rough Guides, InYourPocket.com, and The Guardian, among others.
Where The Mountains Are: Chechnya and the Wild North Caucasus
The North Caucasian region is considered a colorful conglomeration of peoples, cultures, and traditions. Eight years ago, photographer and travel author Gianluca Pardelli experienced the snow-covered peaks and the magnificent valleys of this country stretching between two continents. Since that first encounter, he has often returned in search of people and places that have fascinated him with a mixture of splendor and decay, joy and tragedy, hope and melancholy.
Gianluca Pardelli undertook Slavonic Studies in Berlin and received his Master’s degree in Photojournalism from the London College of Communication. At the same time, he traveled across four continents and photographed more than seventy countries. His photographic focus is on the areas of the former Soviet Union. He commutes between Berlin and the Caucasus, where he spends his time making photographic, linguistic, and gastronomic discoveries.