Beyond Washington

Understanding the U.S. Heartland

A program to the United States for staffers of German Bundestag Representatives

Cultural Vistas invites staffers of German Bundestag Members (MdBs) to apply to the Beyond Washington program, an 8-day professional exchange that will provide participants with a deeper understanding of the U.S. heartland. The 2018 program will take place in the U.S. between September 16 – 23.

The transatlantic relationship is undergoing profound changes. Decades-old norms in foreign policy are being replaced by new approaches to international affairs by both the United States and Germany. In the U.S., these changes in foreign policy positions are rooted in domestic policies and issues that are not always apparent to foreign observers or experts, but that have been shaping the development of U.S. local and national politics for decades.

To provide context and a deeper understanding of the political changes taking place in the United States, Cultural Vistas offers the Beyond Washington: Understanding the U.S. Heartland program. The program invites staffers who work for MdBs from all of the major political factions represented in the German Bundestag to take part in an 8-day visitor program to the United States. The focus of the 2018 program will be on Pittsburgh, PA and the surrounding rural area, providing participants insights into domestic policies and the challenges faced by regions away from the U.S. coastal cities.

The primary goal of the program is to promote a deeper understanding among MdB staffers of U.S. domestic and resultant foreign policies. The program aims to strengthen transatlantic relations by allowing this group of MdB staffers to come into contact with Americans away from coastal cities and the capital. Beyond Washington focuses on the following themes:

  • The current U.S. political landscape and voter engagement
  • Local government fiscal policy and budget priorities
  • Transitioning economies (from manufacturing to innovation)
  • Other contemporary issues (agriculture, education, race relations, immigration, drug abuse, etc.)

Cultural Vistas arranges high-level meetings with leaders from government, business, civil society, and other relevant contacts that bring into focus a set of regional challenges that are echoed in other areas of the country.


Up to 18 staffers who work in the offices of Members of the German Bundestag (MdBs) will be accepted to participate in the program each year. A broad representation of political parties is sought in participant selection; Cultural Vistas aims to have three individuals representing MdBs from each of the six Fraktionen in the Bundestag participate in the exchange each year.

Special consideration will be given to staffers whose MdBs represent districts that have shared challenges with the area to be visited in the U.S.  Staffers employed directly by their MdBs in Berlin, as well as staffers working in district offices are all encouraged to apply. Applicants who have not previously spent a significant amount of time in the United States will be given special consideration in the application process.

Applicants must be primarily employed in the office of a German MdB, have an interest in U.S. affairs, and  speak English proficiently, in order to be able to engage in meaningful conversations while in the United States.

Participants in the Beyond Washington program will share the lessons learned during the program with a wider audience via a post-program report and an event in the district of their MdB, acting as multipliers and spreading an understanding of the primary issues impacting the United States’ heartland.

2018 Timeline

Early September:
Pre-departure meeting in Berlin and briefing with U.S. Embassy representatives

Sunday, Sep 16:
Flight from Berlin to Washington DC

Monday, Sep 17:
National-level meetings in Washington DC

Tuesday, Sep 18 – Saturday, Sep 22
Meetings in Pittsburgh and surrounding rural area (Washington County, PA)

Sunday, Sep 23, 2018:
Arrival in Berlin

October – December 2018:
Participants organize events to share the lessons learned during the program with a wider audience


There is no cost to apply to or participate in the Beyond Washington program. Up to 18 participants will be selected each year by Cultural Vistas to take part in the program. The program covers transatlantic airfare costs as well as accommodations, meals, and all program-related travel costs in the U.S.  Health insurance will also be provided by Cultural Vistas during the dates of travel.

The Beyond Washington program will take place over a period of 3 years, with a different cohort of MdB staffers being selected each year to visit a different U.S. region each year. Programming locations and meeting partners will be adjusted according to the most important U.S. domestic issues as they evolve during the course of the 3-year program.

Please select “Request an Application” on the right side of the screen to begin the application process. The deadline to submit your complete application is July 1, 2018.

Following a review of all applications by Cultural Vistas and an approval of the final selection by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, applicants will be contacted at latest in early August 2018 with information on whether or not they have been accepted as one of the 18 final participants in the 2018 Beyond Washington program.