By Jaxen Halsey

Principia graduate Vincent-Immanuel Herr gave a powerful speech at the International Perspectives Conference this Thursday in Wanamaker Hall under the theme “The Power of an Idea.” By sharing personal experiences and stories from those he has gotten to know through his travels, Herr shared his vision of a what the world would look like if everyone dared to be a “changemaker.”

Along with writing two books, giving a highly viewed “TedX” talk, earning a Politikaward for his “#FreeInterrail” campaign, and many other accomplishments, Herr is a feminist and activist who has traveled around Europe working to make a difference for youth. Herr was ranked by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German nationwide subscription newspaper, as one of the most influential German feminists in 2016.

“To be frank right now, I think it’s women saving our democracy,” Herr said to the crowd. He explained that political activism does not have to be daunting or out-of-reach to the average person: “If you are interested in freedom, you are being political.”

On a trip with some of his friends, Herr developed the idea of giving free Interrail tickets to every person in the European Union once they turn 18. Now, after pitching the idea to the EU directly, Herr’s free interrail project is being tested in a pilot program.

Herr mentioned that although his father recently passed, he is still incorporating one of his favorite lessons his dad taught him: “Fear is never a good counselor.” He explained the difference between intuition and fear, since “intuition is what prevents you from doing bad things and often leads you in the right direction.”

“So many great ideas get kind of blocked from being started in the first place because fear is in the way,” said Herr.

As he spent his post-graduate life travelling around Europe and meeting a variety of people, Herr compiled a list of tips for anyone who is working on something they are passionate about. He called these points “Seven Ideas for Changemakers,” some of which include being aware of privilege, daring to be unconventional, and trusting in the process.

“The best ideas happen when you don’t stress about them, they kind of happen on their own,” said Herr. “I would encourage you to trust where this passion, where this fire comes from…[and] keep trying. If you take the next step, things will unfold”.

Herr’s speech resonated and inspired the nearly-full auditorium, and an active Q&A session wrapped up a rousing first night of the 2019 IPC.