"It gives you so much courage to contribute to having a positive impact on this world.”

Made in Maastricht: Luise Ammerschuber

Luise’s enthusiasm for her job radiated from a picture spotted on her LinkedIn profile. She was on this field work trip in Malawi, Africa. Extremely curious to hear what she was doing there and how she got this position, we scheduled an interview with her.

It was Luise’s passion for international relations that brought her to Maastricht. She had been doing internships and volunteer jobs for various international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Amnesty International, women’s shelters and refugee aid organizations since she was fifteen years old. Working to make the lives of other people easier and better had never felt like work to her. When she first heard about University College Maastricht (UCM), she decided to visit and was persuaded by the inspiring place right away: Students and staff of UCM immediately noticed “the new girl”, showed her around and shared experiences with her. Full of motivation, she applied soon after and the rest is history.

UCM and friends
UCM felt like a breeding ground for extremely passionate students willing to do good in the world and willing to go the extra mile to achieve their goals. “What I loved about UCM is that people deeply cared about what they were doing”, says Luise. “The environment made me so enthusiastic that I convinced many of my friends to start studying in Maastricht, too.” The atmosphere also inspired her to continue to work and do internships around the world in between her studies: From the International Criminal Court in Cambodia to the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect in New York and many other places, she followed her passion.

During her time in Maastricht, Luise made many of her closest friends for life at the many associations she joined, from volunteering and at university itself. Having moved away from Maastricht does not mean she is now out of touch with them: ”You would not believe how regularly so many of us still see each other although we’re all spread throughout the world. You cannot go to any place in the world without seeing a fellow alum which is wonderful. Many of my UM friends even came to join my birthday celebration just now here in the Swiss mountains.” Before she goes on a work trip, Luise often reaches out to fellow graduates within her network. If not to cooperate, then to exchange views or to spend leisure time together. Visiting Maastricht also still feels like coming home to her: “I always run into people I know within UCM premises and the professors actually still remember you with a smile and make time to catch up.”

NGO Consulting around the world
Luise works for The Salvation Army and several other non-governmental organisations and is consulting organisations and governments worldwide. The organisations strive to make development work more efficient by cooperating with partners on how to use resources wisely and by working closely with local communities. One of her major strengths is in identifying and collecting the best practices from each country, organisation and project to help people develop effective programmes. The biggest challenge is often the limited time frame available in a country: “That is why it is key to establish motivation and networks, so even when we leave, people continue to strive to deliver the best projects possible”.  

An example of an effective programme
“We have an excellent micro credit programme in rural Myanmar (Burma) which I frequently visit. In particular regions, people have an average family income of 60 USD a month and no chance of getting a loan to start a small business to escape the poverty. Through the programme, the people – mainly women – first get trained in budgeting and developing a good business idea. Then they form saving groups, receive their loans and meet weekly to discuss progress and save money to pay back the loan after six months. Those interested can get an even higher loan in the next loan cycles. For almost all of them, this means a tremendous increase of income and life quality, for some of them even ten times higher incomes than before. One of the ladies I met from a very poor family used her first loan to rent a weaving chair. Quickly, she was so successful in selling the skirts she produced, she bought the weaving chair with her next loan. With the resulting income, she acquired more weaving chairs and now employs two other women and her daughter. Her family life, income and children’s perspectives have improved significantly. She could send her kids to school who now want to become a doctor and a teacher. It was deeply touching and inspiring to see this and only one successful story of many. It gives you so much courage to continue to contribute having a positive impact in this world.”

Wise advice
When asked about a key advice that has guided her in her successful life, Luise mentioned her former UCM professor Rogier Creemers who said “Never let go of your passion. It will help you go far and will open doors you never expected to open”. “Until now, just using my passion as my compass in life brought me so many opportunities and I cannot wait to see where else it will take me in the future.”

By Charlotte Groven, July 2017