Week 3 of the GE program was full of non-stop adventures. After Tempelhofer Feld on Monday, students were treated to a tour of Berlin's famous street art scene, and many of us walked over to the East Side Gallery afterward. That's the mile + long stretch of the original Berlin Wall which now showcases the work of a great variety of artists from around the world. Wednesday brought us to the popular Spy Museum. (Hint: Ask about the laser challenge.) On Thursday afternon, students had time off to complete their group presentations. This was their opportunity to showcase the products they had been working on during the whole program and to pitch their ideas to three outside business consultants, who served as judges. These business leaders brought their sharp eyes for talent and their experience as successful entrepreneurs to hear the proposals. At the end, the judges offered valuable insight, critical feedback and encouragement to the groups. In addition, they made decisions about which groups they would invest the most money in, a la Shark Tank. Because all the groups surprised the audience with quite unique and impressive offerings, the business leaders and professor also identified additional winning categories: the most humanitarian effort, the most Berlin, the best presentation & most professional approach, and the most sustainable.
These extraordinary weeks came to a perfect pinnacle on Friday with a mix of of excitement, busy activities, and preparations for the BIG DAY: Friday! Our last day started with the presentations/business proposals in the morning. After lunch, we had a quick visit to the Fernsehturm (TV tower). Finally, we gathered for a phenomenal, laughter-filled farewell dinner at the super-fancy restaurant Tomasa in the evening. Afterward, there was packing, very little sleep and a rush to the airport, connections and our return home.
As this blog went to press, students and program leaders were still en route, processing the memories and sharing long goodbye hugs and some tears. What was quite clear was that this adventure far surpassed everyone's expectations. It was the new friendships made, the ideas developed, the teamwork shared, and the projects tackled. We made the students promise to send news when they inevitably land new deals and launch incredible startups. As CIEE staff of the 2022 Berlin GE Session I group, we became convinced of their potential for great futures (and that they were hands down the best group of all!) Undoubtedly, these young entrepreneurs are now ready to take on the world!