Interview 20

A huge warm welcome to our 20th Global Citizen, Tobias Biedermann

Tobias is 30 from Hausen, Bavaria Germany but since 2014 has called London his home. He is currently completing his PhD at King’s College in London in Chinese Studies Research having completed his MA in Asian and International Studies at the City University of Hong Kong.

Tobias’ love of Asia began in 1997 when he toured Taiwan for two weeks as part of the Windsbacher Boys Choir and this experience propelled him to study Asian Studies at the University of Bonn later.

In 2008 Tobias spent one year in Shanghai to understand China further and it was here he met his Icelandic boyfriend. Going back to Germany he felt increasingly sad missing both his boyfriend and Shanghai. This combined with a lack of electives led him to transfer to the University of Iceland. After completing his BA he moved to Hong Kong and completed his Masters knowing he would continue on to his PhD.

Tobias has just submitted the first 88 pages of his thesis and passed his first viva voce and will be relocating back to China for eight months to conduct his field work. After his PhD he hopes to find a job at a university, think tank or NGO as doing research, is what he likes to do for a living; one could say he is never happy unless he is reading and learning.

Thank you Tobias for taking the time to share your thoughts with Global Citizens.

What makes you happy?

I have difficulties with the concept of happiness, as happiness (or being happy if you like),in my view, is something which is usually of short duration. I prefer the term satisfaction.

Then again, this is a question I might be able to answer when I am 80 or 90.

But of course, there are many things, which make me happy for a short period of time such as…

…eating good food

…having a glass of wine

…listening to music

…reading a book

…enjoying nature now and then

I am also very happy when I have my monthly meetings with my supervisor as I find her extremley helpful and enlightening.

I guess you could also say that I feel happy when I wake up next to my financé in the morning.

I don’t know why I feel happy about these things. It just happens to be that way.

What makes you sad?

I think there are different levels of sadness. The loss of a beloved person makes me sad but also the suffering of millions of people – most recently refugees from the Middle East – makes me sad.

I believe one who does not feel sad when he/she hears of all these terrible fates does not have compassion at all.

What makes you proud?

Nothing really.

Indeed I could feel proud of my personal achievements in life or of other people when they have accomplished something; or I could be proud of my nationality or even my sexual identity.

But in neither case would I use the term ‘being/feeling proud’ or ‘pride’

What makes you wonder?

I usually wonder about questions and issues, which relate to single human individuals or societies more broadly.

Obviously I wonder about many things, which relate to my actual research (and beyond).

Still, there are also other phenomena I wonder about, such as people’s use of social media. I have a bit of a problem understanding some people’s intentions when it comes up to self-portrayal in social media, like sharing emotions or information that I would consider too private.

In addition to that, I also wonder how frivolously the term ‘friend’ is used and what it actually means to be/have a friend.

Finally, I still wonder why a raven is like a writing desk 😉

What does it mean to be human?

This question would be easier to answer if we asked ourselves what it should mean to be human.

I think how we deal with the weakest ones of our kind tells a great deal about each single human being. I don’t believe in any kind of God, the Nirvana or reincarnation.

I believe in rationality and the consciousness of every single human being. But every human being, however defined, is both good and evil; and that is probably not going to change in the future.

Having observed how the majority of countries have dealt with the recent refugee crisis, makes me think that selfishness might be a further developed human trait that altruism.

How would you define compassion?

What do you believe in?

How would you answer if you were asked?

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read Global Citizens.

Have a great day.

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