From August 30th-September 8th, Cultural Vistas arranged its inaugural university study tour for a group of professors and staff from Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC)! After securing funding from the Halle Foundation in Atlanta, GGC contacted us to design a study tour for faculty and staff from the School of Business that would allow the participants to explore possibilities for collaboration with German universities, business entities, and to visit cultural attractions.
The group departed Atlanta on August 30th and arrived in Munich the morning of August 31st. With no professional or cultural activities scheduled on arrival day, the participants split up to explore Munich on their own, some on a self-guided walking tour and some visiting the Munich City Museum. The first professional meeting took place the following day with the State of Georgia’s European Office. Created by Governor Brian Kemp in 2020, the office aims to grow investment and trade opportunities between Germany and Georgia. In the afternoon, the participants visited BMW World, the BWM Museum, and then walked around the Olympic Park, site of the 1972 Olympics.
On Friday, September 2nd, we traveled to Nuremberg for the day to meet with faculty and students from Friedrich-Alexander University Nuremberg. They provided an overview of their international partnerships and student life on campus. A representative from the City of Nuremberg also joined to speak about the international economic relationships of the city and its sister city relationship with Atlanta. Following the meeting, our hosts took us on a walking tour of the old city and the castle.
On Saturday, September 3rd, we took the train to Füssen, about two hours southwest of Munich. From there we took a bus to the village of Hohenschwangau, for our visit to Neuschwanstein Castle, which lies above the village on a hill. Completed in 1886, it was built as a retreat by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. We enjoyed a guided tour of the castle and then walked around the back of the castle for an incredible photo!
The following day we traveled by train to Berlin. Arriving in the afternoon, participants spent time sightseeing around Alexanderplatz, the Museum Island, and the Berlin Cathedral.
On Monday, September 5th, we visited Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, just outside of Berlin. It served as a Nazi concentration camp from 1936 until 1945. Following World War II, as it was within the Soviet Occupation Zone, the site was a NKVD (Soviet Interior Ministry) special camp until 1950. Since 1993, the site has served as a memorial and a museum. We spent about two hours touring the site and it was quite a sobering experience. We returned to Berlin in the afternoon and in the evening, had a group dinner with an alum of the International Parliamentary Scholarship (IPS) program, who talked about his experience as a scholarship awardee in Germany and his subsequent work in Berlin.
The following day we had a morning meeting with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the largest German organization in the field of international academic cooperation. The Head of the Government Liaison Office provided an overview of the organization and highlighted funding opportunities available to international universities and individuals. In the afternoon, we visited the German-American Fulbright Commission, who discussed their efforts managing the Fulbright Program and possibilities for students and faculty of GGC to apply for the program.
In many regards, this inaugural study tour was a resounding success. We were able to connect the participants with a number of appropriate contacts in Germany as they look to develop international educational programming. There was also a good balance of professional meetings, cultural excursions, and free time. One negative aspect was the inability to secure more meetings at German universities, many of which were on semester break. This could be avoided on future trips by scheduling the tour during a different time of year. Ultimately though, this was a successful first university study tour and we look forward to replicating this model for future trips!