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A Transatlantic Journey of Leadership and Insight: Impressions from the Young Transatlantic Leadership Program 2023

by Gabrielle Rousseau-Bélanger


In September 2023, I had the privilege of participating in the Young Transatlantic Leadership Program. This transatlantic immersive leadership exchange program brought together young professionnals from Canada and Germany for a series of insightful experiences in Vancouver and Calgary. My experience during this trip exceeded my expectations, and I am eager to share my personal impressions and key takeaways from this enriching experience.

One of the highlights of the program was the opportunity to connect with fellow participants. Meeting like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures created a dynamic and stimulating environment. These interactions went beyond mere networking; they evolved into meaningful exchanges of ideas and perspectives on common topics. The sense of camaraderie that developed among participants enhanced the overall learning experience, creating a supportive environment to create dialogue.

One aspect that I really enjoyed was the opportunity to get to know fellow participants during informal activities throughout the trip. One memorable moment was the approximately 7-hour car ride from Vancouver to Calgary, where we shared a car, listened to iconic German party songs, and enjoyed a special moment together. My Spotify playlist now holds a collection of tracks that serve as a fond reminder of the camaraderie built during that journey.

In my opinion, the strength of the Young Transatlantic Leadership Program lies in its commitment to providing a platform for a rich diversity of voices. The lineup of speakers and the range of topics covered were truly impressive. From experienced professionals to academic researchers, the speakers brought unique insights and perspectives to the table. This trip also served as a unique opportunity to network with professionals, offering access to a diverse and influential network that would not have been possible otherwise.

The immersive study trips to Vancouver and Calgary offered a unique lens through which to explore common topics in different cultural and geographical settings. Vancouver's vibrant urban landscape and Calgary's dynamic business environment provided contrasting backdrops for learning and reflection. The hands-on experiences, including site visits, discussions with local leaders, and exposure to regional challenges, enriched our understanding of the overarching topics of the trip.

As a Canadian participant living in Quebec, it was particularly interesting for me to observe the different approaches of various provinces to similar challenges. While Canada is a vast and diverse country, each province brings its unique cultural, economic, and social context to the table.

Moreover, the flexibility of the organizers was truly appreciated. The accommodating nature of the team became evident when we requested a detour to stop at some lakes on the way to Calgary. Without hesitation, the organizers adjusted the itinerary, taking the time to drive us to these beautiful spots. Their flexibility and willingness to go the extra mile made the trip even more memorable, and I am genuinely thankful for their efforts.

In conclusion, my participation in the Young Transatlantic Leadership Program in Vancouver and Calgary in September 2023 was a genuinely enlightening experience. The connections made, the insights gained, and the immersive nature of the study trips have provided me with valuable perspectives that I am eager to incorporate into my professional journey. The program's commitment to diversity, both in speakers and topics, ensured a well-rounded exploration of the transatlantic context. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this experience.

YTL23 Program Details 

Program Details

The cornerstones of the study trip are the following:

  • The participants will travel to Vancouver and Calgary

  • Number of participants: 12 from YTL20, YTL22 and YTL23

  • 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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Focus Areas

Focus Areas for 2023

Topics that will be covered during YTL23 are the following:

Energy supply in a changing world:

The demand for new and cleaner energy sources hasincreased in recent years. Nevertheless, the Russian war on Ukraine has shown that societiesin the Western world are still highly dependent on fossil energy sources and a diversified supply chain is crucial. This tradeoff causes a lot of economic and political uncertainty but simultaneously also motivates well-established companies and founders to go new ways. We are going to shed light on the situation in Canada’s energy sector, what Germany can learn from it and where crucial developments are already in full swing. Especially the last few
months have shown that the bilateral relations between both countries were dominated by the issue of energy security.


Trade politics in a new environment:

International free trade agreements were long seen as a silver bullet to integrate the different world regions and fuel economic development. In the last decade, this view has changed significantly. Disrupted supply chains due to lockdowns, skepticism in the general public about new trade agreements (e.g. CETA, TPP) and offshoring of production have contributed to changed discussion which emphasizes more frequently the downsides of international trade. We want to explore whether the criticism is right,how the current situation of international trade is, and what the future of it looks like.

Canada’s society changing over time:

2023 marks several anniversaries that had and still have an impact on Canada’s society (e.g. 100 years of the William Treaty, 150 years of Treaty 3, and 100 years of the Chinese Immigration Act). We want to explore which impact these anniversaries still have on Canadian society and how multiculturalism in the country is lived nowadays. What can both countries can learn from each other but where there are also similarities will be a guiding motive throughout the tour.

Do you have any questions? Please don't hesitate to contact us.

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