What We Did in Berlin Today

April 23, 2008 · Print This Article

Print This Article

Today in Berlin we met up at 3pm for a walking tour of the city, then ended up at 5pm at the British Council office at Alexanderplatz 1 in East Berlin next to the Fernsehturm television tower that was a major symbol of the GDR in the communist era.

We began at 5:30 with a brilliantly led introduction and ‘The Great Transatlantic Debate.’ We lined up in order of height, grouped into teams of 5, and then separated into planning rooms.

Each of the six teams (we were team 3) had a provided thesis they had to prepare to prove in the upcoming debate. Our team was tasked to prove that ‘the relationship between America and the E.U is strong and getting stronger.’

In our five minutes, Peter Macleod from Canada played the American husband and Angela Brunete from Spain played the European wife. Peter allegorically referred to the EU/US relationship as a marriage in which there were ups and downs but at the end of the day we would always be together. Angela accused Peter of cheating on her with India, and Peter accused Angela of cheating on him with China. But they reconciled as Rabah Ghezali from France shared the cultural and historical ties including the core values of liberal democracies and the Marshall Plan, Dragos Pislaru from Romania shared the strategic and military ties including our recent learnings of what can happen when we don’t truly work together in global conflict, and I shared the economic ties including trade and FDI growth. Team Four proceeded to present the other side of the argument for five minutes, followed by a one minute rebuttal.

Following the debates, we discussed issues including the identity challenge, citizen media, technology and mobility, E.U. enlargement, the relative stasis of the U.S., whether there were 4, 5, or 7 continents in the world (Europeans learn 5), red blue and purple America, the Stockholm consensus, lateral relationships between the U.S. and Eurozone countries, whether the West or East would most define the 21st century, demography, and our shared history.

After the group discussion we held a reception and dinner and followed on with about three hours of networking in the lounge of the British Council’s office. Around 10, Jeff Johnson and I worked to persuade the group to go to ‘Weekend‘ the dance club across the street in the Sharp Aquos building until we found out that GMF was not name of the Sunday night DJ but rather meant that Sunday night was Gay Night–so we headed to Bar Wave at the Novotel instead.

We’re all building some tremendously valuable connections that will help our businesses, non-profits, and public service organizations for many decades to come while broadening our understanding of global challenges and global entrepreneurial opportunites.

I’m off to get back to work on my Sunday night email catchup.

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