My Journey to Boston with the Federal President of Germany

The Federal President of Germany flew to Boston, USA to end the partnership year between Germany and the USA “wunderbar together”. (wunderbar = marvelously)

For this occasion, he wanted to have some apprentices who had recently made experiences in the USA themselves. So, he contacted the Joachim Herz Foundation and they suggested some of their alumni, after which Simone Mayer and I were selected by the Federal Presidential Office. Unfortunately she wasn’t allowed to fly, because of an organizational issue.

The trip was simply an unique experience, incredible impressions and really interesting conversations with inspiring personalities.

In front of the A321 of the german Luftwaffe

We flew in the “German Air Force One”, where I also spoke to the Federal President, in his private cabin on the plane, together with three other young people from the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Program.

He and his wife were incredibly approachable, down-to-earth and were really interested in what we had to say about our impressions and experiences in the United States, how we perceived the politics and the people there, and what we, especially me as an apprentice, had to say about the dual vocational system in Germany in comparison to the USA.

We started from the military airport in Berlin Tegel, on Wednesday, afternoon with an A321 of the “Luftwaffe”. It has been a very warm and hearty welcomeby everyone, and I wasn’t really the “industrial mechanic apprentice” for the trip, but rather part of the delegation – and I was treated this way. (Although everyone introduced themselves, what job they did and also named the reason why they were part of the trip)

Even before departure I met people who are otherwise just known from the media, such as the CEO of the Otto Group or the managing director of all the world’s Goethe Institutes.

With the Federal President of Germany, Mr. Steinmeier and his wife, Mrs. Büdenbender

“All passengers on board – boarding completed” and “Welcome Mr. Steinmeier and Mrs. Büdenbender, delegation and all fellow passengers, we wish you a pleasant flight to Boston, next stop: Iceland Rekjavik” – this was kind of how you were welcomed on the plane.

As we took off at 17:00 in Berlin I was pushed into the comfortable leather chairs of the spacious plane.

After the refueling stop and about 8 hours flighttime, we were greeted by a “Sea of Lights – Boston” and a column of vehicles, with black tinted windows and a large police presence which escorted us to the hotel.

Landing in Boston

Arrival and night at the 5 star InterContinental Hotel were really very pleasant and impressive.

The next day was marked by a number of appointments, where I had the honor to participate. The first day began with a discussion about “Populism & Polarisation – Challenges on both sides of the Atlantic” and a subsequentvisit to the residence of Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus.

In front of the residence of Walter Gropius

In the evening, the “Germany Year” was concluded and the “Goethe Institute Boston” was reopened. Furthermore the President has given a very good speech about the transatlantic relations between Germany and the USA, the long history that connects the two countries and that, despite all the daily “tweets and tirades”, he illustrated that he sees more unifying than separating things, so based on the motto ” wunderbar together”. 

He ended his speech by saying: “So: If we still believe in the great task of democracy, we should still believe in this transatlantic partnership.” – “I do.”  (“Frank-Walter Steinmeier”)

In the Boston Symphony Orchestra

The day ended with a visit at the “Boston Symphony Orchestra” with the “Leipziger Gewandhausorchester”.

The next day didn’t leave a gap in the calendar either, it began at “Harvard Law School”, with a discussion about “ethics in digitization”, which the Federal President had also conducted for the most part, which I really had been excited about.

The next item on the agenda also was a personal highlight, when I ate lunch with Mrs. Büdenbender and the initiators of the local group “Youth Lead the Change”.

The “YLC” initiative gives young adults between the age of 12 and 22 the decision-making power of what is done with $1 million a year in the municipal budget. 

This allows them to finance projects such as the renovation of playgrounds or the installation of solar cells on public buildings.

This was especially interesting for me because, because we had a subsequentconversation with Mrs. Büdenbender and her advisor to maybe initiate such a project in Germany.

After a company visit of the company “Merck Millipore” we were escorted back to the airport, from which we took off in the late afternoon. After a relaxed flight and another refueling stop in Iceland, we landed at 6:40 a.m., in Berlin, which looked still asleep in the darkness of the beginning day.  

Sometimes the journey apparently seemed like a dream, felt so long and yet so short, very far away and yet so close, so unrealistic and yet so real.

There is so much I take with me from this journey, let it be it the moments, the contacts or the impressions, from a world that had been unknown to me – til then.

A big thank you to the Joachim Herz Foundation, especially to Cornélie & Yulia!

Furthermore, to the Federal Presidential Office, my training company, Krones AG, as well as my vocational school in Bad Aibling.

Greetings, Martin 🙂

Exploring Boston

PS: Some dates I shortened a little or I even left some, otherwise it would have been too much😉

Last but not least..

It’s hard to believe, but now 10 incredible weeks have passed and we are home again, we had wonderful memories in our luggage and made many wonderful acquaintances. Savannah became for many of us a second home. The host companies are also significantly involved in this. I completed my internship at Coastal Logistics Group (CLG), which is a logistics services provider specializing in warehousing, project freight management, packaging, paper logistics and customized solutions. Already on my first day I was warmly welcomed in the company and the respective departments. I then started in sales and had the opportunity to independently create offers and actively contact customers. In my first week I also had the opportunity to accompany the General Manager to Charleston to inspect the office there. During my internship I was often allowed to go to Charleston and had the opportunity to compare the individual warehouses, which are a total of six. In my second week I was employed in customer service and had the opportunity to accept and organize orders on my own, which corresponds to the operational side. Thanks to my experience in rail logistics, I was able to quickly develop an understanding of how the individual transport chains work and where CLG is used. After the college week, which definitely strengthened my understanding of logistics management, I returned to customer service.

During this time I also had the opportunity to take over the billing processes for a major customer on my own and to take over the inventory for that customer. The mixture of office and warehouse was unknown to me for the time being, but I had a lot of fun, so I had the opportunity to accept the goods directly and have them distributed in the warehouse according to plan. After feeling secure in the role of customer service representative, I had the opportunity to take over the entire vacation replacement for a colleague for the rest of my time, which was incredible fun and gave me more confidence in this role. Colleagues became friends, which definitely made saying goodbye more difficult

Not only did I enjoy (even with tears) the farewell of my colleagues very much, but also that of my host family, which is now a second family for Louisa and me. Together we experienced so much and had a lot of fun. Our first trip went to the mountains to North Carolina, where we watched a football game, totally American! After further trips to Florida our host family celebrated an early Thanksgiving with the extended family in honor of us, so that we also had the complete American experience. A day full of food and fun with the family will definitely remain unforgettable for us. Not only that but also the American Halloween is incredibly exciting: costume competitions in the office, tons of sweets and unusual decorations made the whole of October exciting. On the 1st of November all started with Christmas fever, everywhere played Christmas music and the suitable decoration let you almost forget Fall/October completely.

Besides work, we also tried to do some things during the week, besides some sports events, Antonia and I spontaneously went to Hilton Head Island several times. Hilton Head Island is one hour away from Savannah and a kind of Sylt of South Carolina, where the rich and beautiful meet and two German interns mingled. Beautiful sunsets and fun dinners made this place unforgettable for us.

In my last week I had the chance to visit for the last time in Charleston, where also a Thanksgiving lunch took place. I was allowed to handle the 2 hour drive with the jeep of my boss, who sat relatively relaxed in the passenger seat.

On my last day, at the request of management, I gave a presentation about my internship, my German training company and my experiences and differences to Germany. My initial nervousness was totally unjustified because the management team was completely satisfied and quote “impressed by me”! Which makes me extremely proud when you consider that, with almost two years of professional experience, I definitely have more experience than some here do: high regards for the German dual education system. After my presentation I went straight to my desk again. A short time later while making a stop in the warehouse, I got the call that I should come quickly back to the office: All my colleagues stood in the conference room with a cake and a small present and wanted to say goodbye to me!

Saturday at 08:00 o’clock in the morning we were directly dropped off at the airport, where our flight to Atlanta left at 10:00 o’clock. After a tearful and emotional farewell we are finally got through the security check. The three following flights went by very fast, so that we were able to hug our parents in Hamburg at 11:00AM on Sunday. After the traditional German meal of my mother it was nice time to spend time with my family and friends and to acclimate until Wednesday before going back to work at my German company. Many thanks to the Joachim Herz Foundation and a big thank you to Iris Schultz, who made this adventure possible for us. Serena

Hilton Head Island (after work of course)
Last minutes at home before the departure to Atlanta
Football

PS: There is nothing to feel from the jetlag.

My Internship at John S. James

Our big adventure is already coming to an end and I cannot believe how fast time flew by. We have learnt a lot, had new experiences and met wonderful people. We will take back a lot to Germany, not only knowledge but also new clothes… it turned out that you can shop here even better than everybody said, especially in the Tanger Outlet in Pooler were we stopped by more than one time.

In our free time we explored the environment and bought some souvenirs. At work meanwhile, we learnt a lot new stuff.

I had my internship at John S. James Co., a forwarding agency and customs broker. I visited three different departments, Account Executive, Imports and Exports. The Account Executive Department is the middle part between the rates and the Sales Department and communicates with customers, solves problems and sends rate offers to customers. It was super interesting for me to be in this department, I learnt incredibly much and had very interesting conversations with my supervisor. In addition to that, I had my own project which was called ramp project. I created a huge excel sheet where all rail ramps of the US were listed and I contacted different steam ship lines to find out which rail ramp terminal they call on in which city. For example, Chicago has 13 different terminals, so it makes a differences in the rate for the on-carriage where the container is unloaded from the rail. Because of this project I improved my English, I discussed possible solutions with my supervisor and I got a better overview of the various States in the US.

My second department was Imports and I learnt here how to create ISF filings. This was interesting to see because we had it in school in Germany so I could connect my knowledge. ISF means Importer Security Filing and it is a document which is transmitted automatically to customs. In this document details like consignee, shipper, goods content, weight etc. are disclosed and filed.

I also learnt a lot about foreign trade zones because some employees manage them for a huge automobile manufacturer. A foreign trade zone is an area in the US where big companies are allowed to get parts in without customs clearance when they manufacture them in the foreign trade zone and bring them out again. I did not know this method, so it was really interesting for me to see. Another colleague showed me how to write the bills for a different big automobile manufacturer and I assisted him with this.

In between there were interesting events like the monthly customs broker meetings or the visit at a consolidating truck company. In addition to that I drove with my supervisor from the Account Executive department to the Charleston office and I got to know the other colleagues there.

My last department was Export and I did similar things here as I do in Germany, like writing bills of ladings or process billing. 

In my host family I felt very comfortable from the beginning. My host parents integrated me directly and the children felt like little siblings to me. We went together on trips, celebrated Halloween and decorated for Christmas. We were also in the mountains in Georgia on the weekend where we hiked and saw waterfalls. 

Luckily my host mum cooked very healthy all day but that is mostly not the case here and I appreciated it a lot.

Besides local trips, I visited Miami, New York and North Carolina and every area was completely different and I saw a lot. You are also able to do a lot in the surrounding areas of Savannah and the low country, we visited some beaches like Jekyll Island, Hilton Head and St. Simon’s. All these beaches are just one hour with the car from Savannah. 

I noticed that I am really flexible in Germany with the public transportation, especially in the bigger cities. In the US it is not so easy to move without a car except in the big cities like New York. I drove 45 minutes to work with my host mom every day by car so it was complicated to do something after work on my own. When there was something after work I wanted to do we took both cars to work, which is really weird for me in Germany because I normally just travel by train there. 

As you can see there are many differences that I had to overcome, like the food or the car dependence, but regardless I soon felt very comfortable and would stay longer if I could. It is clear for me that I will come back next year to visit my host family. 

In general, it was a great internship where I learnt a lot and met nice people! I also learnt a lot about myself, even if I never thought that this “self-finding abroad” is true.

I can just recommend to do this if you have the possibility!

Dornier MedTech USA, Kennesaw

Kidney stones, lasers and shock waves

Meanwhile it can be said that I have found my way into American life very well and that I continue to enjoy my Internship at Dornier MedTech.

This week I was able to attend the Town Hall Meeting and listen to interesting presentations from the different departments. Afterwards, individual employees were honored for their outstanding performance throughout the year. A practice that I wasn’t familiar with and that speaks for a very good American corporate culture.

My own cubicle

One of my initial tasks was the general improvement of the workflow in the warehouse using Lean methods. The warehouse stores everything from spare parts for Dornier products to finished machines for medical applications. For problems with kidney stones, Dornier offers technically interesting solutions, in which either the kidney stones are shot with a laser or are destroyed completely externally by shock waves.

A Dornier Delta III lithotripter

A challenge for the Dornier logistics team and warehouse is to cope with growing production and stock and to make full use of the available capacities.

In other words. we need more space. In order to create more space, we considered dividing the warehouse into storage zones according to item size and consolidate the items as much as possible. In this way we have already succeeded in opening up 15% of the storage area used. It is then planned to replace the empty shelving racks with larger pallet racks.

I hope that we will be able to make a lot more progress with this project in my short remaining time.

contemplating on how to move forward
progress through consolidation

I have also gained valuable experience in handling databases and various software. These include the ERP software Cloudsuite Industrial and Microsoft Power BI.

In the incoming goods receiving process I saw possibilities for improvement and was commissioned to present the current process in a flowchart and compare it with the suggested improvement. We hope that this will save us up to 30% time when receiving in goods.

See Rock City

This weekend was especially exciting for me when I went to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I had told my host family that Hamburg and its surroundings are rather flat and that is why i would like to see mountains and the countryside here.

Ruby Falls and Rock City Garden on Lookout Mountain come especially in mind for that.

Ruby Falls is a cave system with an underground waterfall located at the end. First we with an elevator about 1100 feet under the earth’s surface and after about half an hour of cave exploring we finally arrived at the waterfall. The waterfall was named after the wife of its discoverer – Ruby

host father Mike and me in front of Ruby Falls

Afterwards we continued on Lookout Mountain to Rock City from where you can see seven surrounding states. These two attractions were known by the numerous barn advertisements along the roads of Interstate 75 near Chattanooga. Nowadays these have been replaced by billboards.

Barn with “See Rock City” advertisement
Mike and me in front of “Lovers Leap”

I had a wonderful time and would like to thank my host family in particular, who do everything they can to ensure that I have an unforgettable experience here in The USA.

I hope that everything keeps going so well until the end and that I can take even more great experiences home with me.

Many greetings and see you soon,

Marco

My internship – same company – different country

Now the longest time of my internship is over and the departure is getting closer and closer. I have the luck to do my internship at Expeditors International, because I also do my apprenticeship there – only in Hamburg. The company was founded in 1979 in Seattle and operates worldwide.

Since the beginning, I have been able to gather so much experience, both privately and professionally. My company takes a lot of time to show me how logistics works and is managed in America. For example, I received my own project and was generally allowed to work independently.

My view from the office

Many people from my company have never heard of our training system and were very interested in it. The people here are all much more open-minded than in Germany. So I often went to lunch with my colleagues and had interesting conversations. I was also involved in team events, such as an escape room event.

On Halloween the whole team dressed up in the company and a costume competition took place. It was quite interesting to spend Halloween here and get to know their traditions.

Marco, Me, Samantha, KC, Cobey, Stephanie, Nicollette, Calley

In the week from 07.10. to 11.10. , the whole trainee group was at Georgia Tech University. This was also very informative and instructive. Our teacher G’Sean made the lessons very interesting. On the last day we were all able to leave the course with our certificates. This expanded our theoretical knowledge before we worked in the companies again afterwards.

In my spare time, I do a lot of things in this area. For example, I was at the Pirate Fest on Tybee-Island or the Fort Pulaski National Park. Otherwise I experience many typical American activities, such as football games. I am especially looking forward to the upcoming trip to Orlando to Universal Studios and Disneyland.

I am very happy and grateful to be able to experience this adventure and I will never forget this time. Many thanks to the Joachim Herz Foundation, which made this possible at all!

I’m looking forward to the last three weeks here in Savannah and am curious to see what else I can experience.

Many greetings from the sunny Savannah,

Julia

Time is running …. Unfortunately!

After five successful weeks in America there isn’t anything to complain about for me!
I enjoy every day and try to gain as many experiences as possible in my office but also in my free time.

Fortunately I am allowed to work at Hapag-Lloyd USA because they take care of me and my progress very well.
After a very warm welcome, I started in the Sales Steering Team and I was quickly integrated into the daily working routine.

After completing some online courses, which gave me a good overview about the company and the shipping business, I am working with forecasts from major customers, looking if there is enough space on the vessels for their shipment with Hapag-Lloyds own software, having customer conversations and being a part of important meetings.

I’m busy around the clock, but not overwhelmed. I really enjoy every moment and have lots of fun while working and with my nice colleagues from Hapag-Lloyd. 

Stuart Sandlin, Vice Prestident Hapag-Lloyd USA LCC., and me

I am also very satisfied with my host family. They have two little children. Nevertheless, they take good care of me. I even got a car from them, which is necessary, because public transportation in Kennesaw is limited.

Most evenings during the week I go to the gym of the Kennesaw State University, where I am able to establish some contacts. Trips and other leisure activities I do with other internationals exchange students and Americans that I got to know over time.

The time in Savannah was also very good. The class at the Georgia Institute of Technology about Supply Chain Management was informative and the knowledge I gained will help me in my future career as well. The city of Savannah provided a lot of opportunities for sightseeing and the port tour was providing me with a great insight of their operations and how it compares to the port of Hamburg.

I am very excited about the next following weeks!

half-time!

Hard to believe but half of the time is already over and we gathered so many impressions!

The week of college at Georgia Tech was very interesting: we got to know many new topics and processes which could be very helpful in our future. Even if it was hard sometimes to understand everything we had a lot of fun because of interactive methods which brightened up the week.

Moreover I am at Norton Lilly International for my internship since already 3 weeks. The shipping company in a small office with only 9 employees had a very warm welcome for me, it rules a very nice and funny working atmosphere.

During the first days they showed me all systems and I gained my own accesses so I can work with those by my own in the next weeks. As I helped explaining shipping terms to another new colleague in the accounting department in the first week, I finally got my own tasks in the second week: I prepared the files for the vessels, created new port calls in the system and edited custom documents.

The highlights of the week are always again the visits of the vessels. 3 times I went to the port, through a different and also a little more strict gate control to the vessels. On board we made the incoming or outgoing clearance for the vessels, exchanged documents and answered last questions about the port stay or the next voyage (funfact: one of the captains was German).

Next to all this work we enjoy the beautiful weather, make trips to the nice beaches and to the great cities, watch football games and lots of more. To summarize it: we try to gain a lot of new experiences and to discover and get to know the life of America.

Let’s have 5 more interesting weeks!

Louisa

Back to school

In order to qualify for the course we had to work our way through a LEAP course, a kind of online course. This was scheduled for 40 hours, which we went through in the evening after work: Eight units about Supply Chain Management Principals, divided into Demand Planning, Supply Management and Procurement, Warehousing, Inventory, Manufacturing, Transportation Overview and Customer Service. 40 houirs later we all successfully completed the LEAP course and qualified for the college week.

Monday morning at 07:30 a.m.: We all met a little bit earlier to register at the secretary’s office. Then we werde accompanied to our interactive classroom, where we would spend the whole week from now on. After a small refreshment at the breakfast buffet, our course started directly. Our course leader was G’Sean Williams, who already has 20 years of professional experience in supply chain management and has completed several international deals in the field of logistics.

Monday and Tuesday were the days for quotation techniques and their processes. The bid package release process is divided into 12 steps, from requirements to supplier labeling. After we finishes class at 4:20 p.m. on Tuesday, we had a harbour tour on our program. Togehter with Iris we got a private tour through the Georgia Ports/Garden City Terminal. Savannah, in contrast to Hamburg for example has only one Terminal and thus Savannah is one of the most important and largest terminals in the U.S. The Tour was very interesting for everyone and we learned a lot of facts about the harbour. We were lucky and there were just many container vessels that werde loaded and unloaded.

Wednesday was generelly about contracts its structure and different parties. Then we talked more precisely about the terms and conditions in contracts and their different meanings. Thursday and Friday were devoted to the subject of negotiations. We discussed how these would work and what technique we could use to steer the negotioations in a desired direction. Furthermore, we examined our individual characters and their effects in negotiations.
On Friday we were divided into two negotiationg groups and got a case that we negotiated. We ended our discussion with a win-win-situation and were able to use our learning material directly.

In summary the week at the Georgia Tech was a lot of fun through interactive learning and will bring us a lot for our future.

Wunderbar together – Germany and the U.S.

After a successful first week in Kennesaw with our Guest families and Host companies it took us (Chris and Marco) back to downtown Atlanta on Saturday the 28th September 2019 to represent the Joachim Herz Stiftung on a German-American Popup event.

Iris, Marco, Chris

The “ Wunderbar together / Germany and the U.S.” Popup Tour is an event to celebrate the German and American friendship and partnership with many different stops in cities all around the States. “Wunderbar together” managed to bring more than 350 Partners from all 50 States together to organize more than 2000 Events in different local communities.

Many German enterprises took part in this project and set up information booths with different activities. They expressed the importance of a partnership between Germany and the USA for a future together and a strong business and cultural relationship.

To bring a bit of German culture to the people of Atlanta, German Bratwurst and Beer was offered in the German beer tents.

For our contribution to this event Iris Schultz introduced the Joachim Herz Stiftung and the program which sends young apprentices from Germany to the USA. After that she interviewed us where we expressed our motivation for coming to the US, our first impressions here and what we would like to achieve during our stay.Also on stage were different students and interns from the US who spend time abroad in Germany.

What we noticed was that the impressions the American students had of Germany were quite similar, almost interchangeable to ours here in the US, that everyone is so friendly and open minded which speaks great lengths for both our culture and friendship.

After the dialogue on stage we set up our own booth and answered more questions to anyone who was interested in talking to us. Interestingly a lot of US teachers were present and expressed their students desire to visit Germany as an exchange student, something we would greatly appreciate.

All in all, it was a successful and interesting event shaped by nice and friendly people and conversations in the middle of big Atlanta.

USA we are coming!

This was our motto on 19.09.19 when we all met at the airport already at 05:30 am. With some tears (especially the girls) finally all of us went through the security control very excited.


The first flight started at 07:30 am together with a hue group of japanese tourists, who entertained nearly the whole plane. From loud conversations to spreading japanese sweets (also to us)- everything was present and deflected the primary wrench.


The second flight was really relaxed ( in spite of the long time) because the seats were not fully taken so that everyone had much space (Chris had a whole row (4 seats) for himself so he could sleep very comfortable). After a warm welcome from Iris and Rebecca we all drove to our hotel in Atlanta and visited the rooftop of Rebecca’s apartment-complex for relaxing and also for preparing the kick- off- event the next day!


On Friday it said: Get up early and dress up!
After an exciting, shaky MARTA-ride (subway in Atlanta) we went to our meeting in Metro Atlanta Chamber. Our group was welcomed by the director of the chamber and we heard some interesting presentations (e.g. of the vice president of Hapag Lloyd).

After that we had typical southern food for lunch together and changed our outfits because we were going to do a 3-hours touristic tour through Atlanta by foot.
With our guide Dean we hiked through big hotels with balconies inside, visited the television transmitter CNN and climbed up to the Olympia- sign to create a cool but typical touristic photo.

For a great end Iris invited us to her roof- deck to finish the evening with pizza, funny conversations and a fantastic sunset.

Kind of turbulent and informative days- we are looking forward to many more!

Stay tuned!

Antonia &  Louisa