|Last week, the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship program came to a close, following a 37-year run supporting and inspiring over 500 accomplished professionals from the United States to strengthen friendship and understanding between the U.S. and Germany. Cultural Vistas has worked with the Robert Bosch Foundation as its partner during this entire period, supporting the aim of advancing transatlantic relations.
To reflect on this moment in history, I reached out to members from the first cohort who went to West Germany in 1984. It was a time when the Allied and Russian forces still occupied East and West Germany, Helmut Kohl was the Chancellor, the Green Party had just emerged on the national stage, and the Opel Kadett was named European Car of the Year. I also received feedback from Fellows who just completed their Fellowship amidst the world’s worst pandemic in 100 years, the first female German Chancellor announcing her retirement after 15 years in office, and the world celebrating the 30th anniversary of German unification.
I asked a few alumni from both the first and the last cohort to reflect on what the program meant for them personally and professionally, how it advanced the transatlantic relationship, and their responsibility for alumni and Cultural Vistas to carry on the legacy. Here’s what they said:
Jackie Renner, Bosch I
“For me, the program broadened my understanding and network at an early stage of my career, so it was very formative, and the connections became very important. As I have seen the Bosch I group evolve over the years, I have been blessed with the friendship of the group and have been witness to their commitments and impact to the transatlantic relationship.”
Peter Bird: Bosch XXXVII
“Spending a year in Berlin with my wife and son during a pandemic was a major endeavor. While it was more difficult to cultivate the same type of professional relations as I would have in an office, I did get a glimpse into a Berlin that no one else gets to see: a quiet, introverted one trying to navigate COVID. That said, my wife and I have both been offered permanent jobs here, our son is thriving in a 100% German daycare, and we’re excited to stay in Berlin for longer. I think, in time, I’ll come to regard my Bosch year as a year both of introspection and personal and professional inflection when we first became acquainted with our new home.”
As I reflect on this milestone, I can’t help but ask: what should the next iteration of a transatlantic exchange program look like, given the needs and environment in which we operate?
- Should it be multilateral?
- Should it be a year, a month, a decade?
- What role should technology play?
- Who should the target audience be?
These are some of the questions we need your help with answering and supporting. We have so many lessons to learn from the last 37 years to help inform the decades to come. We need your help in shaping what comes next.
Please view Cultural Vistas’ Case for Support today, which provides a blueprint of the areas in which we need your support and partnership.
Dr. Jennifer Clinton
President & CEO | Cultural Vistas