Let`s whoop it up!
Whose heart doesn’t spark with joy if one hears the words: “time to celebrate! “And right at the start of our final program session, we Azubis were greeted by the song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang. Some of us were smiling, some of us were moving to the beat but all of us had nevertheless a great time. And you might already guess it, the todays meeting was all about achievement and celebration and undoubtedly the most fitting topic for the final session.
As always, we started with sharing our thoughts about the last weeks topic, in this case “influence and influencer”, exchanged our newly gained insights and together reviewed our meetings with our peer buddies which sadly was officially the last one. But for most of us that isn’t completely true as it turns out we bonded together surprisingly well with our American peers and new friendships were born. Some even decided to send each other packages with regional goodies. Now if you don’t call that something to look forward to, then I don’t know what does!
As the session moved on, we stuck our heads together around the personal meaning of achievements and celebrations. We used the UNESCO Story Circle as our tool once again, brainstormed in breakout rooms our experiences with celebration and embarrassment at our workplaces or in private settings and how it might be different in the U.S. Back in the forum we picked up the discussion about our results and looked at the big facts, Sabine worked us through. We learned that Germans do celebrate similar as Americans but not as big and often as they do. And yet the biggest questions remain unanswered, why do people still sing “Happy Birthday” to one another if most of them just want to disappear out of embarrassment caused by the attention? No one will ever know…!
Next topic we dealt with was the poem of Amanda Gorman“The Hill We Climb” which she read at the inauguration of Joe Biden in January, 2021. At first it showed us an extraordinary way of celebrating a long-desired achievement, but as we dug deeper into the analysis of the poem we were faced with the concept of Aesthetic Force. This method was first mentioned by Frederic Douglass and its key idea is that emotions are more powerful than facts or numbers.
With this knowledge on our mind, we presented our prepared and self-written “elevator speeches” to each other, which summed up our experiences and the newly gained skills we acquired in the period of the virtual program. Afterwards we gave feedback using the “Sandwich Feedback Technique.” The goal was to keep us working on our speech, not to make it perfect, but to grow thru the task and hand in our personal best. There is always room for improvement and to exceed your abilities – that is a growth mindset.
And with all that, it was time for a break – and maybe for a kit-kat as well.
Last Friday our group was very excited about our two special guests! To be specific: Dr. Nina Lemmens and Mr. Brandon Loftus.
Dr. Lemmens is a very pleasant woman who is a member of the Executive Board of the Joachim Herz Foundation. She is sort of our boss in this program. She told us about working and traveling around the world and how she managed to stay and work in New York City. Even though she studied something completely different before her current line of work. She showed us the differences that influenced her during her work abroad. For example: Observing singing toddlers and their teacher in Central Park, who got way too many compliments for mediocre performances. Meanwhile in Germany employees get compliments very rarely. Some German bosses should adapt this kind of behaviour, what do you think?
Even the Azubis Team present at the seminar is very impressed with their boss. They`re right, she´s a “Power Woman!” Last, but not least, she had exciting news! We are definitely going to visit the U.S. It blew all of our minds!!! It was a relief for everyone, because of the COVID situation we couldn´t visit Georgia this year. We are so excited about our upcoming trip in Spring of 2022. But especially, to meet each other in person!
Our next speaker Brandon Loftus was honest and admitted: Zoom and other online formats are not his favorite setting, Mr. Loftus prefers to speak in front of a live audience. But for that he managed it very well. He´s the plant manager and head of ZF Gainesville, a German company. You could really see the pride for his company and it´s employees.
That´s giving him high marks. We were impressed how he managed the difficult COVID situation and how he managed to make the necessary tough choices to letting some staff go, not his favorite task but that makes him a brilliant businessman. He told us about his personal struggles and challenges which influenced his choices. To terminate employees was not easy. You could see that this experience mentally affected him. He used his best knowledge to make the best out of that situation. His character and optimism impressed all of us!
Georgia, see you soon!
Finally – on Saturday we passed the last session of this amazing, virtual AZUSA program, 6 amazing weeks. In the beginning Julia and Tobias joined us. They were part of “Azubis go USA” some years ago and travelled to the USA funded by the Joachim Herz Foundation. Back in Germany they are now participating in courses and studies. They are still active as “Azubi-Botschafter” and present the project to interested trainees. They encouraged us to us to also become “Botschafters” Ambassadors as well. They took time to answer our questions on this topic.
After that we started to discuss in our group and in smaller breakout rooms: we were looking back, remembering the sessions we passed during the last weeks. We thanked, praised and criticized in the meeting of all participants. These were not only questions considered in the program but also about our personal lives and our futures. Generally – what is pleasureable for us, what makes us exhausted? And what would be alternatives if our lifes would change completely? Have we thought about what to do and where to find alternatives? Have we thought about a backup plan for our lives? What do we take away from the courses? An important question which we discussed also in our “Elevator Speeches”. We wrote them before our last session and presented them live in front of the other participants. Exciting how different and divers such speeches could be! Lovely, how positive and warm the reactions of the listeners were.
And so began the end of our shared virtual time. Time to say Goodbye. The “End” – a screen of picture Zoom tiles with many smiling faces. Some of them also thoughtful or tired, some even had tears in their eyes. We really hope to see each other again, next time in real life. Everybody, please stay joyful and healthy! “We are keeping Georgia on our minds!”