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'Building cultural bridges with language and script'

Liad Shadmi has been awarded this year's German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) prize at HAW Hamburg. HAW Hamburg president Prof. Dr. Ute Lohrentz selected the Israeli because of his outstanding academic performance and his extensive societal and cultural engagement. The DAAD prize is worth €1,000.

Liad Shadmi studies in the Master of Communication Design degree course in the Faculty of Design, Media and Information. His study project ‘The Alphabetical Room’ won the 2023 student prize from the New York Type Directors Club and was among the 70 nominees from 3,679 applicants for the Tokyo Type Directors Club prize. As a result, the project not only received widespread attention in the press but also led to workshop collaborations and presentations with other universities and additional institutions.

Involvement in the study reform committee for design
Liad Shadmi obtained his Bachelor’s degree in his home country of Israel and also spent a semester abroad in Berlin. After graduating in 2019, he decided to return to Germany to work as a freelance graphic designer. In 2021 he began his Master’s degree in Communication Design at HAW Hamburg and demonstrated here that his engagement extends beyond purely academic performance. As a student representative, he was an active participant in the study reform committee for design, the goal of which was to reform his Master’s degree course. His experience as a student at various international universities greatly enriched the committee’s work. But it wasn’t just the committee chair that he left a lasting positive impression on. His professor Pierre Pané-Farré, who worked with him over the course of several semesters and also supervised his project ‘The Alphabetical Room’ as part of his course, was also impressed by Liad’s design skills and strength of character.

Making the Hebrew script visible
Pané-Farré describes ‘his ability to use language and script as a tool for communication and to build cultural bridges’ as ‘inspiring’. He also praised Liad Shadmi’s ‘thorough historical research’ and his ability to ‘independently learn and use new digital tools and techniques’, as well as ‘his inspiring impact on other students’.

But Liad’s engagement extends beyond the borders of the campus and even Hamburg, because alongside his professional efforts to make Judaism ‘visible’ in Germany through the Hebrew alphabet, he also repeatedly seeks to come into contact with people of all ages in order to break down inhibitions, do away with misunderstandings, and arouse and satisfy curiosity. Various universities in Düsseldorf and Kiel have benefited from his workshops on Hebrew typography, and the topic is so close to his heart that he would like to give workshops at other universities. 

Holocaust remembrance work in Sachsen und Hamburg
A personal family story from the Second World War period, on the other hand, took him to Wurzen in Sachsen, where he contacted the Jugendlichen der Evangelischen Kinder- und Jugendarbeit Wurzen, the youth group of the Protestant child and youth welfare organisation in Wurzen, to share insights into the fate of Jewish people under the National Socialist regime as part of a youth history project. He also makes it possible for Hamburg youths to learn more about Judaism through direct interaction by visiting one Hamburg school each month as part of his volunteer work with the organisation ‘Meet a Jew’.

He also volunteers with the organisation Zikaron BaSalon, which works to preserve the memory of the horrors of the Holocaust by organising meetings with Holocaust survivors. The global director of the organisation praised Liad Shadmi’s central role in the work in Germany because he is actively contacting survivors and organising the meetings. For example, he organised the first Zikaron BaSalon meeting in Hamburg and helps out as a translator thanks to his good German and Hebrew skills.

Additional information about Liad Shadmi

About the DAAD prize

Since 1995 the DAAD prize has contributed to making visible the large number of international students at our university. It makes it clear that every single international student takes a piece of Germany and HAW Hamburg back home with them and leaves a piece of themselves behind in Germany – to the benefit of both sides. The students who have received one of these prizes through HAW Hamburg represent their fellow students from across the world. They are future partners for Germany in business, politics and academics.

The DAAD prize is awarded annually and was originally initiated to highlight the many international students at German universities and to learn more about their life stories. The prize is also intended to honour those students who advocate for others and support intercultural exchange at their universities.

More information about the DAAD prize


HAW Hamburg
International Office
support_incomings (at) haw-hamburg (dot) de