Our inaugural year was a tremendous success, thanks to a very impressive cohort of students and a crackerjack GGE team.
We had a truly international group, with students from the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Jordan, Spain, Turkey, and South Africa and, with daily biking, they all were more physically fit on departure than on arrival. Students quickly learned their way around Greifswald, and, typical for this small town, one encountered GGEers everywhere – relaxing on the banks of the Ryck River, standing on line for freshly caught Fischbrötschen (fish sandwich) on market days, visiting the museum, hanging in the parks and cafes, chatting with locals, and shopping at H&M. We enjoyed several special events: an outdoor performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, complete with fireworks; a visit to Beekeeper George, who allowed students to hold frames teeming with baby bees; a visit from former teacher and Greifswald native Roswitha Rutke, who told us about life in the German Democratic Republic (1949-1990); a lecture on the history of Germany in preparation for our Berlin visit by renowned Professor Michael North; music and dancing at St. Spiritus, the local cultural center. We had a wonderful and hectic time in Berlin, where, in addition to seeing the most important sights, we had several singular opportunities: a visit to the Aspen Institute and a meeting with its Executive Director, Rüdiger Lentz and a tour focusing on Berlin’s 20th-century history with Dr. Joachim Braun, the former speechwriter to German President Richard von Weizsaecker and a journalist who was eye-witness to the fall of the Berlin Wall. We spent a hour with Greifswald Mayor Fassbinder (yes, related to the filmmaker), who promised to facilitate internships for GGEers in 2017, and we appeared on local TV and in the newspaper. It was also terrific getting to know local teenagers, especially Conni, who made a delicious fruit cheesecake for our final cookout.
Several GGEers will return as Residence Assistants in 2017, and one student wrote: „I just really want to say a huge thank you for the amazing opportunity you gave me to broaden my international relations knowledge, meet new people with a variety of different backgrounds and to experience a whole new culture. It was really an amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I also made a some friends that I will definitely keep in touch with,thank you for that too. I hope you all the best for the future and if you ever need help with anything at all, I am here to lend a hand. I hope we’ll keep in touch and cross paths again.“
[August 5, 2016]