The regional chapter Munich organized a half day event called the „Fulbright Young Leaders Meeting – Meet the Fulbright Spirit“ on December 5, 2015 at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. This was an open event for every fellow Fulbrighter and attracted around 35 fellow Fulbright scholars and two current US Grantees. The people came from different regions in Germany. Most of them graduated in the US no longer than five years ago. The speakers were invited to represent the variety of the Fulbright program.
The event was divided into three sessions. The first session covered topics, which the Fulbright Alumni worked on in the USA or is currently working on in Germany. It covered concepts of the future of aviation, astronomy or current themes in artificial intelligence. We also got an inside from a former intern at Facebook, who explained us how advertisement in the digital age works. Links were made, how scholars’ personal and professional focus shifted based on their experiences in the States. The speakers revealed interesting details about their fields of expertise and created a room for interdisciplinary discussions and inspired people to discover new perspectives from other professions.
The second part was perspectives of the Fulbright program itself, and all presentations gave personal insides about each speaker. A scholar of the Diversity Initiative showed us his summer school experience. An US Teaching Assistant reported about her current time in Bavaria, as well as one German scholar, who reported about her former experiences in the USA and how challenging it is sometimes to work against common stereotypes some pupils have about Germany and Bavaria. It was also very inspiring to listen to one speaker’s two-year experience as a college student and how he was able to build sustainable friendships and professional connections. He teamed up with a Fulbright scholar in the field of creative strategy and design thinking.
In the break, two networking activities motivated the audience to meet the speakers and the others at a personal level. It is very surprising how many commonalities we all share.
The last session covered the speakers’ current career experiences and the questions: What came next – after their Fulbright experience? What was the motivation behind their current career step? What are challenges and specific elements in their particular field? How could they build on their Fulbright experiences? With their individual stories we learned about the preferences and difficulties of entrepreneurs, consultants, communication managers, TV moderators and PhD students. Persistence, self-confidence, curiosity and the courage to try something new – best with people you really like to work with and who are passionate about their theme - seem to be key elements to success. The day ended with a common dinner in the city of Munich.
We like to give a very special thanks to our special guest – Anthony Miranda for his great words in the beginning to set the right tone for this event. We also appreciate the grant of the US Consulate General, Munich.
In a nutshell, this event helped us to remember how precious the Fulbright experience was and showed us how powerful it can be to have a better mutual understanding as Senator Fulbright envisioned for a better future.