A TRANSATLANTIC EXCHANGE: CANADIAN AND GERMAN YOUNG LEADERS TOURED GERMANY
written by Julia Maiwald and Mojann Zibapour
originally published in DKG Journal 01/2023
As young leaders, we had the opportunity to further develop the bond between Canada and Germany in September 2022. On a tour through the historical, cultural and economically relevant German cities of Munich, Berlin and Leipzig, we were privileged enough to visit many of our networking partners. Our tour was based on three main topics: modern mobility solutions, transatlantic ties in current politics and the cultural bridge across the Atlantic. As we traveled across Germany, our cohort was able to visit with various partners who allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of their industries. In addition, we got to experience firsthand the cultural and historical sights that Germany has to offer! One of the most moving and important visits we took part in on the Munich leg of our tour was visiting the memorial site of the concentration camp, Dachau. After a warm welcome by the Director of the Bavarian Memorials Foundation, Mr. Karl Freller and the Director of the Concentration Camp Memorial, Dr. Gabriele Hammermann, we were guided on an emotional tour of the concentration camp by our tour guide who explained the somber reality of this chapter of German history. We felt that even though this was a difficult visit to see firsthand the remnants of some of the worst things humans can do to one another in a time of war, we were learning about important realities of the past. As we walked through different buildings at Dachau such as the Barracks or the Crematoriums, we were overcome by the grim realities that prisoners here must have faced. After the tour, the Quebec Delegate General laid a wreath to commemorate the victims of Nazism. “Their fate should be a constant warning to us to remain vigilant against and oppose all forms of discrimination, hatred and exclusion in our society” - let us carry this out into the world.
As part of our journey to better understand the industries founded in Munich, Infineon Technologies hosted us one afternoon on their company premises. After inviting us to experience their one of a kind campus cafeteria for lunch, they presented their innovative technologies in their showroom in order to break down the complexities of semiconductors in a more tangible manner. We gained insights into the future of mobility and the vital role that semiconductors play in our everyday lives. Perhaps the biggest highlight of this afternoon was the fireside chat with supervisory board member Margret Suckale. Suckale is an incredibly successful manager and lawyer in Germany who now sits on various corporate boards. She shared very inspiring insights into her work, personal career, and her understanding of leadership, especially as a woman in a demanding working environment. Our group left this visit with a newfound understanding of semiconductors and their importance in modern society as well as the incentive to broaden our horizons in our own careers. Our final visit in Munich brought the team to the German Aerospace Centre Oberpfaffenhofen - one of the largest research centers for aerospace technology in Germany. Thomas Kuch - head of DLR Mission Operations - guided us through the world of astronauts, space missions and extensive research areas of earth observation and communication satellites. It was very exciting to see how space missions are organized and controlled, especially as this is an industry that none of us was very familiar with. We had the opportunity to observe a control room and learn about the agenda of the astronauts currently at the International Space Station. We were also introduced to current robotic research projects that are breaking ground in innovation and design so as to better serve astronauts in space. This visit in particular was deeply eye-opening and allowed the team to gain a base understanding of some of the incredible work that DLR contributes to and the transatlantic collaboration that exists in the aerospace industry. As we continued to explore Berlin’s culture, historical sights and the city as a whole, we were invited to visit the office of Microsoft Germany GmbH in order to learn more about their upcoming technological advances. We were welcomed by Daniel Kompe and Lisa Staigerthal, who introduced us to the world of digital transformation and broke down how culture and change management are vital components of success for any company. This discussion allowed the team to reflect on how the differences of our various industries or countries' working culture has a direct effect on the work that we are capable of producing. We also got the incredible chance to try out the Hololens in their show hall. This new innovative technology tool allows everyday people to experience augmented reality technology and visualize the virtual world of tomorrow. The third and final city we visited as part of our Germany tour was Leipzig. On our tour we learned about how Leipzig was built with the expectation that it would be one of the powerful cities of Europe and is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. Afterwards, we went to the impressive exhibition “NEW YORK 9/11 – War in Times of Peace”, which focused especially on the personal stories of people behind the events. The end of the exhibition was particularly impressive: it consisted of a large room that was built to be a realistic depiction of a regular New York City neighborhood. Using real images across the walls, acoustics and lights, the exhibition was able to depict the sudden horror of the 9/11 attacks and how residents must have felt who were in the middle of their normal work days. Overall, it was a very nice trip to the fair city of Saxony! As our trip had concluded, the group broke apart and went their separate ways, either for more adventure or to return home after two very intense weeks. For myself, Mojann Zibapour, I had to take advantage of the fact that my first ever trip to Germany was taking place during Oktoberfest! I made my way back to Munich for a few extra days and decided to get fully into the experience by purchasing my very own real Dirndl! There was a real recognizable energy shift in the air in Munich this time around and people were especially enthusiastic as this was the first Oktoberfest since the pandemic had started in 2020. After sampling some of the strong yet delicious Munich beer and German specialities that Wiesn had to offer, I felt as though my German cultural experience was complete.
The YTL tour was at times an unexplainable journey of learning, self-discovery, and cultural exchange. We were privileged to hear many interesting stories from leaders from different industries, take part in new cultural experiences and of course make new friendships we hope will last a lifetime. Our contacts to YTL partners will support us in our careers and deepen the transatlantic network. Thankfully, we aren’t done yet! Next year our tour continues - this time in Canada. We will be joined by some new participants who will undoubtedly add fresh perspectives to this new leg of the tour. As applications are set to open in Spring of 2023, we would encourage young Canadians and Germans to take advantage of this incredible program and apply to take part in the next chapter with us - we look forward to seeing you! For applications please follow https://www.ytl-initiative.org or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. “If you don’t want to, you will always find a reason. Those who want to, will always find a way”. - Our Motto of the Trip.
The YTL 2020 Program was postponed to 2022 due to the current Covid 19 crisis. For 2022 we are confident to have our program happen between September 11th and September 23rd
The cornerstones of the study trip are the following:
The participants will travel to Munich and Berlin
Number of participants: 14 from YTL19, YTL20 and YTL22
YTL organized accommodations (AirBnB/Hotel) and the commute between destinations including the field trips
The interdisciplinary program will include:
Exchange with representatives of the civil society,
Discussions with scientists from various disciplines,
Formal discussions among the participants regarding the German-Canadian and transatlantic relationships, and other topics, with representatives from different fields and
Field trips and hands-on activities.
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YTL22 Program Details
Focus Areas for 2022
Topics that will be covered during YTL22 are the following:
1) Modern mobility solutions
The demand on mobility has substantially changed over the last years. We have seen an increase in sharing services, new ways of micro mobility, and the change to sustainable mobility. In Germany, where one of the economic backbones is the automotive industry, the discussion about these new solutions is fully underway. We will define mobility in the future, we are going to visit research entities, start-ups, and well-established companies to learn from them, and see new solutions for large-scale and private mobility.
2) Transatlantic ties in current politics
2020 marked the 30th anniversary of German reunification. In Berlin, we will explore different crucial places of this time and learn how life was in a divided city. But we will not only be looking into the past, but also towards the present and future. We will discuss the current state of European and transatlantic politics and what role Germany and Canada can play in this respect. Topics will be around the German presidency of the G7, security policies, and transatlantic politics from a German perspective.
3) The cultural bridge across the Atlantic
Europe and Germany are well known for their rich cultural heritage. All cities, we will be visiting, have a rich cultural life. Canada has this variety in cultural life as well. We will include a number of cultural events, visits and talks to this year's program.