“I’m travelling around the world talking to humanists, freethinkers and atheists”

Meet Kirstine Kærn, the activist using a career break to visit humanists wherever she can find them

  • blog Type / Membership blog
  • Date / 25 February 2019
  • By / Humanists International

“I sold everything I owned and decided to travel around the world – a gap year, a grand tour, an unexpected journey – to meet people and explore our beautiful planet.” On her way, she’s meeting all the humanist, freethinkers and atheists she can find.

This is Kirstine Kærn’s “crazy idea”, as she calls it on her blog. Kærn is a humanist activist from Denmark and the current Vice-President of Humanistisk Samfund, the Danish Humanist Society, a member organization of Humanists International. Most if not all the groups she visits are also Humanists International members.

Last year she sold her flat, quit her job and planned “first to visit the African countries south of Equator. My idea has been received very positive and all the organisations would like to participate. It is amazing that my crazy idea will come to life.”

“I have spent more than 20 years working in the IT business,” she wrote, “but now I’m considering to completely change direction – working with human rights or the UN global goals. I still have at least 20 years left before I can retire which gives me plenty of time to build a whole new career.”

A photo took from Kirstine during her stop in Uganda

Before she finds a new new career, Kærn’s meetings with humanist groups will be podcasted on her site Babelfish. She’s been posting regularly, with updates about the journey and interviews with humanist activists from the countries she is visiting.

“I’m travelling around the world talking to humanists, freethinkers and atheists. They tell me their lifestories, how they became non-believers and how it is to be a non-believer in a pre-dominantly religious world. We talk about their involvement in the humanist movement, what challenges they face and what risks they take.”

We asked Kærn about the tour so far:

Humanists International Blog: Where did the inspiration for this incredible tour come from?

Kirstine Kærn: It is difficult to say. I had thought about downsizing for a long time, selling the house and find something cheaper. I didn’t want to be depend on a job I basically hated. Luckily my job was moved to another country so the company gave me seven months’ pay. It was the push I needed to do something completely different. At the same time I had met all these amazing humanists at our general assemblies. Each and everyone with incredible life stories, many facing challenges which are difficult to comprehend for me living in a peaceful non-religious country like Denmark. At some point I thought: why not document their life stories in a podcast for everybody to listen to? So here I am.

HIB: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far, or you are expecting?

KK: I want to visit all countries where Humanists International has member organizations, but it is not possible due to security issues. I have to prioritize my own safety which meant I couldn’t visit DR Congo, Burundi and Zimbabwe. Going forward I know there will be more countries I can’t visit, unfortunately.

HIB: What were your expectations of the humanist groups you’ve met and were your expectations changed by meeting them?

KK: I’m not sure what I expected. Before contacting them I was worried to get rejected but I have been welcomed by all. Everybody wanted to participate and they also think it is an important project. I knew many of them are struggling financially but for some it is worse than I expected. In some countries they are very few active. In spite of all this they all have this amazing energy, they are positive and optimistic. It was incredible to experience.

HIB: When are you due back home to Denmark, and what’s the first thing you’ll do when you get there?

KK: I will be in Denmark for a short while in March planning the next steps. Drinking a huge latte in my favorite coffee shop in downtown Copenhagen looking out the window – together with my best friends catching up.

All published podcasts and articles are available on Babelfish, and you can follow her on the related Facebook page!

Kærn is producing the podcast at her own expense, and you can support Babelfish by donating at 10er.dk.

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