Our exiting virtual journey begins

12.03.2021 – 14.00 pm: Kick off, Let’s start the journey!

Finally, our virtual trip to the USA started and everybody was very excited and had lots of expectations. We are a team of 18 trainees from all over Germany and the organizing team, 1 from Hamburg, as well as two persons from Atlanta. Unfortunately, we can’t fly to Atlanta, but instead, we will meet virtually every Friday for the next 6 weeks to learn more about American culture, business, U.S. college life and current events.

First, we came together, and introduced ourselves and talked about our expectations and goals, and what we expected from the program. After giving an introduction and insights about the following weeks, the main part of the program started.

The director from the Global Business Development Metro Atlanta Chamber introduced the region and gave us very interesting information about the sights, the film industry, the  busiest passenger airport and the infrastructure in Georgia. Did you know that the airport in Atlanta is the biggest passenger airport in the world?! That is very impressive. And after asking Mr Theissen-Jones, of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, several questions, the next guest, Kevin Lister, from the GACC South, started his presentation amongst other things about  education in the USA. He told us, that they are working on incorporating  our German system of skills training thru apprenticeships here in the Southeast.

Micheal Theissen-Jones (left) & Kevin Lister (right)

13.03.2021 – 14.00pm: continuing on a weekend/ Welcome to the new programm

On Saturday, the virtual journey continued. We met again and talked about the past day. What were the things we could remember?  What was the most impressive thing?  Of course, the Atlanta airport was one of the aspects we remembered most. Because of the new virtual program, we used the „UNESCO Story Circle“ method to get to know each other better in small groups. This method is a new communication strategy where we learned that it is important to listening carfully to others and let them speak and finish their point. Everyone in my group worked well together through these method. In the virtual program we did not really have the opportunity to talk to everyone on our own. This program is more of an active presentation with knowledge, virtual activities and tasks where you  have to reflect yourself or communicate with the members. We also discussed in this session the differences between Germany and America such as the cars and their use or the culture differences. The last point of the day was to analysis the music video „Welcome to Atlanta“ by Ludacris. It was interesting to learn more about the African-American slang and code-switching based on a music video. Code-switching means that two languages or two dialects are combined with each other.

All in all, the second day was very informative. I’ve learned a lot about other people and other cultures, especially my group members and the US culture. I am looking forward to the next few weeks, and I am thankful to still have the chance to learn and see more about America, the people, the food and the culture. My group also get the chance to meet our KSU ( Kennesaw State University in Georgia) Students, who we call Peer Buddies. They help us understanding subjects in the program,  and  I’m very excited and looking forward to the coming  meetings.

On Friday, March 19th, we met for the third time, as usual online via Zoom, 

On that day we started by sharing the experiences we had with our peer buddies and with the rest of the group. (The peer buddies are students from the USA, at KSU, with whom we can meet virtually once a week.  With them we can talk in English about many different topics, but particularly we talk about the differences between Germany and the USA.)

Then we started with the differences between German and American characters. We noticed that we as Germans are often more direct, in a way to be honest and that the Americans are usually more friendly and polite, to not offend.

 Then we were given the task of painting a house and a tree.

At first we didn’t even know why we should do this.

But after everyone was finished and we showed each other our pictures, we quickly noticed that we all had very similar ideas about what a house and a tree should look like. 

It was now clear to everyone what they wanted to teach us, because we only painted what we knew and what it might look like here.

If you were to play the same game with people who grew up in a different regions for example, then they might paint a palm tree instead of an indigenous tree. 

The next theme was about privileges that each of us have, but which we do not always appreciate and that we take for granted, for example clean water or that we are allowed to grow up in peace.

We went on to think about it in smaller groups. 

We noticed that there are still so many privileges that we don’t appreciate at all, but luckily we are still able to experience them every day.

We should always be aware of how good we have it and that a large part of the world’s population cannot experience these privileges!

We particularly noticed how many “invisible” privileges white people have, which people with a darker skin color do not always have, for example,  matching make-up, and or band-aids in the right skin tone.

After a 30-minute break, John Fluker joined us. He is the President and CEO of the German U.S.subsidiary “Grenzebach”. 

He is a black American and because of that, he was able to tell us so many stories about experiencing racism from his own life. We were very pleased that he took time for us, especially since he certainly has little time in such a management position in a large company.

He was really nice, answered all of our questions at the end and above all, he was very inspiring!

All in all, it was an exciting but also a long afternoon in which we were able to learn so much. We will especially try to be even more tolerant and open to other cultures in the future.

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