In this episode, I speak with Till Kraemer, who is a mathematician turned social entrepreneur, and is the co-founder general manager of the organisation ICE (Inter Cultural Education) based in Hong Kong. Till has a fascinating love of the world and intercultural exchanges, and he approaches all aspects of life with a curious eye. This approach is embedded in the foundation of the ICE organisation and in our discussion, Till shares a number of stories of the impact that these kinds of exchanges have not only had on him, but also the students and members of the community.
Till shared with us his favourite podcast which addresses a variety of topics through two lenses: science and philosophy. He also recommended their YouTube channel, . A book that particularly made an impact in Till’s life as a teenager was . A YouTube channel that he absolutely recommends is which offers bite-sized engaging history and geography lessons about each country in the alphabet.
Hello and welcome to a new episode of Narratives of Purpose. My name is Claire Murigande. I am a scientist by training, a TEDx speaker and your host on this show. This podcast is dedicated to amplifying social impact by bringing you inspiring individual stories of ordinary people who are making extraordinary impact within their communities and around the world. If you're looking for a programme that showcases unique stories of changemakers, stories of people who are contributing to make a difference in society, and at the same time, you want to be inspired to take action, then look no further, you are in the right place. So get comfortable and listen to my conversations. Today we kick off our third season of the podcast, with second guest Till Kraemer. Till is the director and general manager of intercultural education, in short, ICE, a Hong Kong based award winning social enterprise, which is committed to provide a safe platform for cross cultural dialogue and global learning. In this conversation, Till shares with me how his organisation connects young people from different cultures and countries to debunk stereotypes. Please take a moment to rate and review the show, wherever you listen to your podcasts. And for now, listen to Till's journey and his love of the world.
A warm welcome for you Till to the podcast. How are you doing today?
Thank you, Claire. I'm doing well,
Till, thank you so much for joining me, I'm really excited to have this conversation with you. And basically, we'll be speaking about intercultural dialogue and intercultural education, because you are the general manager of ICE Hong Kong. But before we jump into that, I'd like to pass it on to you and let you introduce yourself. So can you share a bit of your background for our listeners?
The way I usually introduce myself is a bit non conventional. I just say, I am a curious person who absolutely loves the world, fell in love with the world as a teenager, I didn't have a chance to travel much because I didn't have much money. I grew up in rural Germany. And through my journey, through teenage years to university, I just knew I couldn't stay in one place. And I knew I had this hunger for learning about things. Not just the social world, but also the natural world. I fell in love with physics and chemistry and computers and biology, but also social sciences and geography, and politics. And then I actually majored in mathematics and computer science. I ended up travelling the world and being stuck in Hong Kong, where I co-started a social enterprise with a Hong Kong guy, with the aim of connecting young people from different countries and cultures together to debunk stereotypes and enable dialogues between people. Because the mantra that we found through our travels, but also through talking to people all around the world, is that our brains are just not built for this globalised world, we have built a planet we have connected it, we have culturally and politically built this planet that just is totally out of sync with how we grew up and how education systems also teaches us how to think about things. In our professional lives, we have to work with people, or at least, we have to be involved in politics that deal with other countries, cultures, religions, and races. And this richness of this human experience can be beautiful. But instead, most of us are shielded from it until maybe it's too late. And we just realised that we want to make this interaction happen in a positive way. We want young people to be as excited as we are about the world. And then essentially, we've devoted our lives to that.
So ICE stands for Intercultural Education. What is it exactly that you do? And what do you offer? I've seen on your website, you have different programmes, but just give you a sense of how you started and what did you want to aim for with your programmes?
In a very abstract way I would say we facilitate cross-cultural conversations anywhere, mostly in Hong Kong, of course, but we're trying to do more things with more different places and countries. It could be on a very young level in primary schools or secondary schools, where maybe people never have a chance to actually interact with others. But they grew up learning about the world in English lessons and geography lessons, but that's it. However, in many cities, including Hong Kong, where we're based, it boasts that it's Asia's world city, so actually confined every nationality there. There could be ethnic minorities living here. There could be refugees temporarily being there, appealing against some kind of legal procedures or deportation, there could be guest workers from other countries. And they're like an invisible parallel world. Hong Kong is actually extremely mono ethnic, 90 something percent of Hong Kong residents are of Chinese ethnicity, even though they have a bit of an identity crisis, maybe wouldn't call themselves Chinese. But that's another story. But that means every day the people they meet, the cultural interactions are they are our mono-ethnic. And at the same time their textbooks talk about the world, their textbooks talk about globalisation, their textbooks talk about religions, and human values and respect and all those things. But then when you actually do see an interaction happen, it may be at university level, now have to do a group project with exchange students who may just be as simple as let's say, just to have a different skin colour, you can already see people are not prepared for that all their lives, they just haven't been confronted with this. And that means there could be unnecessary friction, there could be misunderstanding without any bad intent, it's just there's a complete lack of exposure. And then suddenly they're being thrown into a situation they're not prepared for. So essentially, what we're doing is we're facilitating this kind of safe space interaction at a younger age. So they could be going into a classroom and taking an entire week to turn a local school that has never seen a foreigner into an international school for just one week with 25 nationalities on campus. teachers, students, principals, all of them walk around and see all these strangers. The best is to look at the face of the security guards, who are always scared of who's the next strange person we were bringing in there. But after after a while you see their smiles on their faces, you see the questions to ask innocent at first, maybe to some people offensive at first, but with the right kind of framing and the right kind of facilitation, everyone has a good time internationals as well, because they learn what local teenagers are like. So that's what we're doing, I'd say 80% facilitating this interaction on campus, bringing the world into the classroom. But of course, because expertise is this facilitation and because we're a social enterprise, and sometimes we also have to earn money. We also spread out and do things, for example, help universities with campus internationalisation. So that's a little bit more in depth, for example, it could be helping them to run cultural events, or helping to moderate certain cross-cultural settings, or even in the corporate sector working a little bit with the diversity and inclusion side. But that is not our specialisation, because we believe there are a lot of other people who do that, and a lot of very thoughtful individuals working with the corporate sector, but in education, that is still so traditional. And companies can see benefits, because maybe shareholders exert pressure, or maybe there's regulation going on, they want to earn money, they have to do branding, they worry about PR, but schools, they don't have those problems, they do what they have been doing for decades. So this is what we want to change.
Tell me a bit how you kind of branch out because I also noticed that your team is quite diverse, right? You have people from Asia, but also from other places.
We call it community building. In some sense, we call it the ICE community. And these are usually people who start off as volunteers or as interns, or maybe just start the first one and then become the other, or vice versa. And then they bring their friends along, and then they become our friends. So it's a very blurred line. I'm not quite sure sometimes how to call them. It's a mix of 1000s of people who have worked with us in the past, some of them we have hired or we have engaged as freelancers, whereas others, they just as I said, maybe they're exchange students in university or international students, and they're looking for things to do, they themselves may be looking for more connections with the local community, in their university that may mostly hang out with other exchange students and still feel like they went all the way to Hong Kong for Exchange, and then they don't really know, maybe their local friends don't invite them to all the social events that would have been invited to maybe because of a language or a cultural barrier. Maybe Actually, both sides would love to do things together. But they're both a bit too shy and don't quite know how to make it happen. So very often we attract these kinds of people in these communities. And then it goes through friends and friends of friends. And then we do social events. So it's very, very common to just have a school project and someone says, "Hey, can I bring my friend along?" And then, of course, we have to make sure that certain legal issues have been addressed. Sometimes, for example, for students they are not allowed to work and even volunteering there's some restrictions. But as long as this all works out, or we include people in certain kinds of programmes that we frame in a correct way, then it is always really interesting for both sides. Even recently, like last week, I remember we had one guy from Kenya who also studies in Switzerland is a Kenyan, who studies in Switzerland went on an exchange for Hong Kong and is going back to Switzerland in summer or early autumn and then it's the first he volunteered. I met him at another university event where we were talking about religions and minorities in Hong Kong. We went into a Sikh temple and into a mosque to show how different religions have been practised in Hong Kong. And he struck me as this already very globally aware person growing up in Kenya, then going to Switzerland to study in university, and we had a great time. I invited him to a project. And while we were there, there was another friend who joined this project again, and she brought her friend along who was from Burundi, there was only a third Burundian I have met. And then we had lunch after our school project, and a Kenyan and Burundi started talking. And I started being curious about the whole Swahili which which accent of Swahili is how, and which one has the better Swahili and I learned a lot as well, which is great. So, you know, we start teaching the students and at lunch, we teach ourselves and enlighten us about our own global knowledge. So this is a typical kind of engagement we do. And I wish I could say that we have a more systematic, structured process of branching out of recruiting people. But really, it's just a huge group of friends from more than 100 countries.
I was wondering, what were the challenges to build that structure? Because you said it's a social enterprise. So you need a certain structure as well. I mean, it sounds great to have these people join you. But in the end, it needs to be structured somehow. So did you encounter any challenges on that end?
Absolutely. Absolutely. It's always hard and I am not a business person as well. I mean I studied maths and computer science. So I was always the person who was curious about stuff, I was the person who would like to absorb and learn rather than do. So when I was young, I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, let alone a social entrepreneur. Amongst my friends, it was never the one with the ideas, or the one that is good at negotiation, or selling. In fact, I possess none of those skills. So I'm the worst person to be an entrepreneur. I like learning. So even when I just want to relax in the evening, before going to bed, I will watch some random YouTube science videos, or listen to a scientific podcast, something like that. So for me, everything is a challenge. Even something as simple as accounting and bookkeeping and corporate law. Like all of these, I had to teach myself. Fortunately, of course, I have a team. But even most of my team is not exactly, doesn't have a business background. One of my full timers studied neuroscience. Local Hong Kong, a Singaporean, he studied economics, it's not exactly practical in terms of running a business. So the reality of business reality, building anything is difficult for us. But I think what we do instead is we are mostly driven by projects. So rather than having something that we do on a continuous basis, it's like, we have really good relationships with a lot of schools, I think, almost 100 secondary schools in Hong Kong, that is quite a lot. And we mostly have these relationships, because we can show through what we do, it's very believable, we don't have to spend a lot of you know, PR to frame ourselves as being so noble or be adding so much value to the school people work with us once, often we provide a free workshop or a free day of activities for a school at first, they will immediately see what we are doing and they will see how genuinely we care about this and how genuinely we are curious about the world. And we can inspire the students to be similarly curious. And this immediately sells it. And therefore we go school to school, and they want us to ask them to block their calendar, they say, "Can we come this week?" and then we just tackle each one as its own thing. So "We have this weekend, this school this weekend, that school this weekend, this university, this week, we have three simultaneous projects" And then every time we mobilise resources, so we have a pool of volunteers and of interns, and freelancers and of service providers. And then we just hired a new full time staff as well just have them because the management overhead is too much, we can't even manage so many just to coordinate projects, basically. And we almost don't spend our own time building the community. Because whenever we actually run such a project, we build communities doing that, as I just mentioned, by having the lunch after going to school, we're making friends that way, and then they bring their friends along this year, we actually do want to pay a bit more effort into separate community building and doing more social events for them, and also empowering them to drive their own events. But in the end, I would say 90% of our community building is done through actually running those projects, which I find is a certain beauty to it a certain even a business beauty, because as a social enterprise, at least the way I believe in it, I understand it, is that it's only a really a social enterprise when you cannot separate the social impact from the actual business operation, right when you usually sell a product or a service and then with some of the revenue you can or cannot do something good, right? That for me is similar to CSR or maybe even just PR, "donating money for every 10 Packs sold, we're going to donate one" this is something you can easily switch on and off. But if the actual operation itself does the social impact and generates revenue, and even in our case builds, the community itself becomes one inseparable thing that we do that we believe adds value and generates the resources to continue doing so. So that's what we are doing and I admit it's not very structured, we actually have a person who's responsible for community building, and we are scouting for good community building software right now, because we now have the budget to even invest a little bit into the software to do proper membership, community building, maybe doing more online events as well. And then we're going to have a separate arm of Operation just to do that, while at the same time, we have another arm that just talks to schools and sells more workshops, and an another arm that just develops new ways of facilitating interaction, new types of workshops that we can run, and then another arm that just does the operations of going to schools and the logistics.
So it sounds like an interesting model to consider for the future. Maybe for those who are listening to us and you know, have an idea, I never thought they would try something. Well, here's proof that you can do it right.
Indeed, indeed, and if anyone is listening and wants to have cross-cultural conversations as well, feel free to contact me and we can talk about whichever country you want. I would love to learn more myself. And maybe we can also help you build your own community and connect people from around the world.
So we spoke a bit about the challenges. But do you have some specific highlights? You have your organisation now, if there's something that you really remember that stood out, I can imagine it's difficult to pick one or two. But is there something you'd like to share with our audience?
One that I still remember is a girl who was pretty young. And she joined a project that we were doing, where we helped relatively underprivileged students to do a certain kind of service learning within Hong Kong. And then we hooked him up with ethnic minorities in Hong Kong to just get to know each other a little bit. And then I just remembered, she had so much curiosity, and I immediately wanted to support that. So we stayed in touch. And then she joined a couple of our projects as a volunteer, and then she ended up getting a scholarship into a very prestigious school, that is called a United World College, you may have heard of it before. It's one of these international schools that are franchised around the world, but their philosophy is there like a mini United Nations that has many nationalities present, it has no real ethnic majority. So every country only has maybe two or three students of that nationality in the school. And they give a lot of scholarships out as well. And she ended up having a scholarship to go to that school and then her entire life changed. Immediately, every door was open to her and later she travelled to other countries as well in university, did internships abroad, came back to volunteer with us and just basically kept on confirming with us that we were the ones who opened her eyes to taking interest in the world. So this kind of personal, making students open their eyes, it feels like something that I was lucky to get when I was young. It started with a simple trip that a friend of mine and his mother gave me as a birthday gift for my 17th birthday to have a trip to India. And that, for me, was so mind blowing. And it woke me up and made me, as I said before, fall in love with the world. And whenever we manage to give this to other young people, and wake them up from especially East Asia, teenagers have to study very hard with a lot of academic pressure. And that takes all the fun out of learning for them. But making them wake up from this and actually fall in love with things they can learn that helps both academically but also just personally, and then having success in whichever path they're joining. That just makes all of our hearts melt and makes us feel good that we're doing it. But then also, there are some other purely selfish ones. I remember this one guy, he was amazing. He's a Somali and he was working, he was actually one of us for a while. He was essentially living as a refugee in Hong Kong. He was processed and was basically approved for refugee status, but because of some very complicated historical reasons, Hong Kong does not actually take refugees. So once you're approved to be a refugee, they are being resettled, and he was supposed to be resettled to the United States in late 2016. And you may remember what happened then. The travel ban to certain nations, including Somalia, so suddenly he couldn't go there anymore. He was in limbo, in legal limbo. So he got special permission from the Immigration Department in Hong Kong, that he was finally allowed to work and then we hired him. And then he was amazing. He gave us so many insights into Somalia and East Africa. And then we just had every day our lunch conversation was different and interesting. And I still remember this one moment so well, where we were eating, he was bringing some halwa, some hot, expensive, some very greasy food that in quite a few Middle Eastern countries has a variation of this, but a Somali version looks particularly disgusting. But it was actually amazing. He brought it along, apparently the real one you can only get in Somalia or in the UK or in some US Somali communities and somehow he got a relative to ship it over to him, he unpacked it in front of us. We all ate it together, he lived in Ethiopia and Kenya for a while as well before he came to Hong Kong. So he made us Ethiopian coffee. And then he listened to his music. And then he just told us stories about his home and how camels taste and how many camels his father used to have and we were transported suddenly eating Somali food, listening to his tales of camels drinking Ethiopian coffee, and we were in our small cramped Hong Kong office. But in that moment, we were transported, it felt like we were eating in his parents home or something. And that just was one of these moments where you feel you have an out of body experience. And you're like"How did it end up in this situation?" And that is just amazing. And I feel like I'm not just in a documentary, but I am not in my own body! And if I can create those experiences for me and my team, we can create an experience for students. These are the things that we live for and die for.
And that's the power I believe that storytelling has right, when someone conveys to you their own experience, we can actually relate to it quite easily. And that's impressive. Yeah,
I think that's also what keeps us sane, because otherwise, it's very stressful. We do pull 100 hour weeks, and we do not have a lot of holidays, we constantly have to struggle for economic survival. It's been going well, last year, we had the best year on our record so far. But 2020 was the worst year in our record due to COVID-19. So it's still a roller coaster, we don't get any funding from any charity. So every single dollar we pay for our rent, or for our salaries or for our resources were earned by selling to schools and universities. So it is really not easy. But these moments keep us motivated, keep us sane, keep us feeling like we are not just in control of things, but we know why we're doing things. So that's very important. Because we have a lot of friends at our age, they do feel very disillusioned, frustrated with their bosses and always thinking about career changes. And yeah, I'm not gonna lie, it's not easy, especially the last few years, emotionally and mentally for a lot of our team. But I believe those moments really are a human connection for us, and also motivation for us.
You just said that 2020 was not a good year for you, but 2021 was a bit better. So what was the impact of the pandemic on your activities?
Oh, yeah, I mean, 2020 was just horrible. We lost something like 80% of our revenue, just poof, it was crazy. And we pivoted a little bit to online Zoom lessons, online connections, and realised, hey, now that we kind of got better and better, we taught ourselves how to use it properly, like proper cameras and green screens and studio style equipment. And we just realised that if we can do it like that, maybe we can actually do things even if the pandemic situation gets better, we can actually literally connect a classroom with Korean students to a classroom of Hong Kong or Spanish, we can actually create any classrooms in the world and facilitate global virtual interaction. And we started doing it and it kind of worked and realised, for example, there was one particular type of workshop we've always been doing with one of Hong Kong's major universities, which is very, very uncurated cultural workshops, where we spent 90 minutes every week, totally different topics, something very niche, for example, Somalia, we talk about poetry, and the Civil War, or not civil war and say the 1990s politically difficult situations, or we talk about the civil war in Sri Lanka, but also the tea. That's right, to really do some really edgy or maybe a little bit, I wouldn't say controversial, but definitely not very innocent topics. We're trying to find ways of talking about certain things, and also find ways of teaching about certain things. So we've always put a lot of creativity into those workshops, but they were always face to face, always physical. And we brought food and drinks and people into the classroom and got university students, maybe even get some anthropologists along because that university is famous for the anthropology department. And then we really do some more interesting stuff. And yeah, it worked quite well. And then when a pandemic hits, it's like, that's it. We can't really do that online. That's impossible to reproduce. So we can't do the immersion and the food and everything. But then we realised, we can't but maybe we can bring in people from very interesting countries and zoom in that we could never have otherwise gotten and there was one session that already pencilled in on, on climate change and sea level rise and how it affects different people in different countries. We already planned to have a few guests there in Hong Kong, but then because of COVID-19 we couldn't do it. So it's like, alright, well, we met someone from Fiji and we met someone from Vanuatu. So why not bring them in over zoom? That's what we did. And then suddenly, we had essentially a Pacific islands climate refugee online convention that we just hooked up. And we talked to people who would just never be able to leave the island and Hong Kong people would never ever talk to someone from there, especially Vanuatu, the smaller countries. And then we just had a great dialogue there and realised that actually, this threat has turned into opportunity. And we started scouting more and getting more referrals and doing more online sessions and events. And we worked with amazing social change makers from Bangladesh, and from Pakistan, that were invited to Hong Kong girl schools about female empowerment, or a lady from Iran who was a really inspiring person and we just roped her in so actually, then we did more and more of these events and realised, yeah, we can do stuff. And that worked. So that followed up with 2021, being essentially our best year so far in history, despite pandemics still being ongoing.
So you mentioned previously in one of your highlights the school girl who got a scholarship, what do they educators say, because you're obviously working with schools now, what is their feedback?
I feel like sometimes educators like it even more than the students because they know themselves that their knowledge gaps are being flagged and they themselves are curious. Of course, not all of them. Some are still very practical and think, how does it help with those exams that are coming. But I would say overwhelmingly positive, almost all of these educators work with, they really love it as well. They are really happy because they see their students, they see the faces of their students light up as one they realise, wow, we couldn't do that. Part of it is just because we have the advantage that we come in as extras, as guests, and it's new faces. So it's inherently more exciting to the students. If we had to spend this same time with the same students every day of the week, they would get bored of us, I'm sure. So very positive, but there is still something that is also part of the reason we exist. Sometimes we do see educators, adults, teachers, who should be our role models, having certain attitudes that we believe are very problematic. For example, we have had one primary school, I would not drop any names here, but higher, up high level people and we're talking about vice principal, principal level asked us, can't we get more white people in? They didn't say it like that? They said it like "Can we get more native English speakers like British, Australians and Canadians?" We tried to push back in a sneaky way, we were like, "native English. Sure. Okay. We've got one guy from Zimbabwe, he's native English, we got another from India, his native English" and then we test their faces, right? It's very clear. That's not what they mean. And it's also very clear, they know that it would be racist to reject that. So they don't really have much choice. I mean, but what they can do is just stop working with us and quote another reason why, which, which is fine, which occasionally happens. So we do have some bottom lines, we're gonna say, we guarantee diversity, but we will not let you decide which countries. So that's one of our principles. Only in exceptional circumstances, we can customise. Maybe they already planned a certain cultural week about a certain region in the world and so, yeah, we can see if we can do something for that, right? But if it's just a general global dialogue, you're not going to pick and choose the countries for us. So this still sometimes happens. I think it's a mindset of people who are still stuck in this, maybe it's a post colonial mindset, almost thinking like, English is what we need to aim for. And they associate English with old white guys. But that's also why we're doing it, we have to eradicate this mindset. And by bringing someone in who looks radically different from the stereotype of who's supposed to be an English teacher, we can at least educate the young generation. I think we have to get up, give up on the older ones, they're not going to change their mind. But if we can educate the young generation, and especially have very positive experiences, then I believe this can change, maybe not now, but maybe in 20, 30, 40 years. And I'm very pleased to say that in Hong Kong as a city of 7 million people, we have done enough work over the last 10 years that it is very likely whenever I give a guest lecture at a university and as like fresh undergraduates, I can almost guarantee that some of the students have seen me before, just because I've been to one of those high schools before in some of the previous years, which means we've had quite some exposure and quite some overall impact.
Now, looking ahead, you mentioned earlier that there's uncertainty but still you are aiming for something else different now, what does the future of ICE look like?
Even 10 years ago, his biggest wish would actually be to have a presence in various cities that are similar to Hong Kong cities that are big. There are a lot of different schools there. But at the same time, that population is very local, by that, I mean, very mono-ethnic, and at the same time, it's also a city with a lot of expats and a lot of actual international communities. So those kinds of cities, Hong Kong was one of them. But Tokyo would be another one, Taipei in Taiwan would be another one, probably Seoul in Korea would be another one. So there are quite a few of these cities, maybe even Singapore, even though Singapore's government is trying to be very multicultural at all times, but it's mostly restricted to their main races, as they call them. So the dream was always to have different offices or branches in those big cities. And then we can actually have our own little network and then can have staff and interns go around from city to city, bring resources around, build new resource connectors. So it's like an internal connection and building external connections. And then doing virtual exchanges, maybe even facilitating all kinds of school exchanges, building a global network of educators, and people who are curious about the world. And then helping connect classrooms together, we've done a few of those already. But we're not making any money from those. So it's a bit hard to justify spending too much time on this. But it's always amazing when we see someone from one school, like a teacher who's really passionate about it, who has to fight against an administration that doesn't really care about this. But if we can help empower those teachers and educators, and we can just hook them up with another educator who is really into this. And they can have a zoom call with students from across the globe. And just think of the more individual connections are built across cultures, just generally, politically, the less I see danger of some crazy isolationist danger to any kind of world order, the more connections we make the more frictions, we put in place against any kind of major large scale conflict that we've seen a lot in the 20th century. And that's very small drips, raindrops, but we can fill huge buckets, if we just connect the world together. I've read enough research that shows if someone has had conversations with someone from a different country, they inherently think differently of their politicians talking about that country, like a personal experience, is always even though it's just an anecdote, it always trumps statistics, or even some narratives that people may hear, for better or for worse, right? It can also lead to a lot of biased thinking and a lot of fallacies because of this heuristic. Oh, you know, I have that one friend and now suddenly, I think this friend stands for the whole group. But if these experiences are positive, I believe this force can be a force for good.
There is something I like to do towards the end of my conversations with my guests. I like to ask three short questions to kind of get a bit of a sneak peek into what books that you read or what music you listen to. The first one is, what music or what song are you listening to on repeat these days, or what book are you reading right now, if you're not very much of a song person, a music person?
Can I give a podcast instead?
Let's do that, which podcast?
One of my favourite podcasts in general, or just people that also relates to YouTube channels. It's very challenging. It's actually very popular with teenagers. But maybe you heard of John and Hank Green, they're Vlog Brothers. I highly recommend them at any age from age, I don't know 12 to 82. I think they're suitable. So there are two brothers. They're Americans. I love their podcast called Dear Hank and John. And it's just amazing. It's just a conversation podcast answering questions, but they both have such wisdom. And it's funny, it's interesting. They built a huge community of caring people. Maybe you've heard of John Green as the guy who wrote the book, The Fault in Our Stars, which was a famous movie like 5, 6, 7, 8 years ago in cinemas, and his brother is basically runs a lot of YouTube channels, a huge like crash course, if you heard of Crash Course, it's an educational YouTube channel, these two brothers actually came up with Crash Course. So one is the Science Guy, one is the author guy was a bit more philosophically and World History minded and both together satisfy the two parts of my brain. The science part of my brain and the philosophy and world affairs part of the brain, and these two are the perfect combination of funny they're caring, that smart, and can whip up quotes. So Vlogbrothers is the YouTube channel, one of their many YouTube channels. And Dear Hank and John is one of our podcasts.
The second question again, the same either podcast or a book, is there something special that you fondly remember that was particularly important for you at a time in your life?
It's a book that I read when I was a teenager. It's by Roger Penrose, he's a mathematician. He recently won a Nobel Prize, back then he hadn't yet he was one of the tutors of Stephen Hawking. So he's a physicist. And he wrote a book about computers. It was about Alan Turing and proto computers, Turing machines. And as a teenager, it was incredibly mind blowing for me. It was also way too complicated to really understand in depth. But I was an innocent teenager who tried to understand it. And I read it and I read, re-read, re-read it and reread it. I had to read it so many times to even get a gist of it. But once I got it, it was incredible. It basically made me realise that I can kind of understand, in some sense, how computers work. This gives me a huge confidence booster. This is not just for some random geniuses, I can learn how a computer works. And then I got more into it. And then I actually realised, a computer is not magic. I know when I press a button, why does this actually happen? It kind of demystified this for me. And this gave me this incredible boost of confidence. And curiosity. It was a virtuous cycle of confidence, giving me more curiosity and curiosity, giving me more confidence. And suddenly I shot to become number one in class and one of the number ones in my country in high school. So it was really starting with one of these books. And I think that was maybe the book. It just talks about computers, but in a very semi philosophical way, but also very scientifically, clear and accurate. So Roger Penrose it's called The Emperor's New Mind, I believe.
And the third and last question, do you have any specific recommendation for our audience in terms of books, perhaps podcast again, because I hear you are quite a fan of podcast audio, or any music that you say people need to look into, read it or listen to? What would be your recommendation?
I think I just recommend a YouTube channel. And that is Geography Now. And again, it's an American, but it's a guy I can really kind of identify with. He has this premise saying, let's just have fun, skitty introductions of each country in the world. Starting with the letter A, like all the UN member states, now you've reached a letter S. I think it just published a Switzerland episode. In fact, he went through everything. So you start with Afghanistan, and just country by country, you can see him getting better and better at it. But it's also really funny, because he tries to use a philosophy I really believe in, that is just keeping it very light hearted. And still making people curious, even if that comes at the expense of maybe making a mistake here or there or maybe over generalising or simplifying here or there. But at least he keeps things very interesting and entertaining, he tries to really consult people or even host people from that country to do the skits and sketches with him. So it's really great, especially if you want to just have a quick overview. What countries are never heard of before, or you barely know anything about. I remember the first episode I watched was the Benin episode, because I knew where Benin was, but I just didn't really know anything about Benin. I wouldn't even have known a single people group or language family, so okay, let's just watch this episode, because I know nothing about the country. And then I was hooked. He tries a bit too hard to be funny sometimes. And sometimes his jokes are a little bit tasteless, but you will get used to it. So Geography Now is quite entertaining. But also he personifies countries which are really loved. He has something called friendzone. Like one segment in his show, at the end, which is about the kind of international relations, foreign politics of that country. Whenever that starts a spotlight in each country. And then he kind of compares countries with people. Imagine if this is the gathering, then you know, then this country would be the emo kid who's standing in the corner. This friend would be the grumpy uncle or, you know, this would be the Jealous Girlfriend. So like the way countries interact, he uses this like human metaphors. And it just makes it a bit funny. And it really helps you remember things about countries that otherwise would forget if you just read another CIA Factbook, or some you know, some UN reports. So Geography Now highly recommends it, you can learn about any country in the world up to the letter S.
Thank you so much. Till, it has been really great speaking with you. I learned a lot. And yeah, I'm really looking forward to staying in touch with you and to see how ICE Hong Kong grows and which new avenues you will take. So if there's any other final words you'd like to share with our audience, the stage is yours.
Stay curious until you die. For the rest of your life.
I love it. Stay curious. Thank you so much it was a pleasure talking to you too. Take care.
Connecting young people to understand the world and nurture global citizens. This is a very simple, yet powerful mission. Check out the various programmes ICE has to offer by visiting their website at icehongkong.com You might find some of these programmes appealing and become an ICE world agent yourself. Thank you so much for tuning in today. I appreciate you taking the time. That was episode 28 A Conversation with Till Kraemer. Make sure you leave us a review everywhere you listen to the podcasts. And if you like what you're hearing, remember to share our show within your network. And also connect with us through our social handles or our website at narratives-of-dash purpose.podcastpage.io Until the next episode, take care of yourself, stay well and stay inspired.