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30 posts categorized "Berlin Global"

Meet Your Session 2 Program Leader: Mary Kate Mueller



Hey there readers! My name is Mary Kate. I will be a Program Leader for the Global Entrepreneurship Program in Berlin, and I'm so excited to return to Berlin! I'm originally from New Jersey, and am currently living in Brooklyn after graduating from LIU Global College.

I've been abroad for five cumulative years, and four consecutive ones. My Global College degree is an experiential approach to education, in that I've been studying/ living in 12 countries for 3.5 of the 4 years!  I started studying abroad at sixteen, very close in age to many of this summer's participants.  Promoting experiences abroad is positively impactful to both students and host-countries, and it's so important for us to bridge cultures.  Just two days after CIEE, I will continue to work as a Program Leader for a gap-year program in Ecuador. 

I'm excited to return to Berlin, as I've lived and studied there several times. I was most recently living there for a research semester this past year. I am also SO excited to meet the students of this session, and to grow together as global entrepreneurs. How exciting is this! I've worked alongside businesses and NGOs in several countries and continents. In order to produce unique and relevant projects, I'm excited to guide students towards integrating the culture into their ideas. Ich freue mich darauf!

Bis dann!

Mary Kate Mueller

7 Weeks til Germany?!


Dear People of the Internet,


Oh la la! Time is flying by I only wish that school would fly by faster...

Answering my friends, families, and other people's questions:

But before we start I want to share something I came up with from my work before I go abroad...

We were supposed to come up with six-word thing?

Here is what it officialy said: “You may write about why you want to study abroad, what you want to take away from the experience, what you hope to learn, how you hope to change, or what you are really nervous about. Anything you write is acceptable, as long as it is six words long and relates to your program.”

So me being me starting thinking and writing... and came up with:

Einemini miney mo... Germany it is

Berlin: great nightlife... I'm underage

So then of course I start scrolling through the responses and notice that a lot of people were pretty serious about their response... well this might as well be a good introduction into who I am.

Here’s the rest of my blog!

Q: Why Germany and not some Spanish speaking country since you are taking Spanish?

A: I chose Germany for many reasons:

  • I have never been to Germany and it seems like a cool place so why not?
  • The entrepreneurship program was only offered in Germany, Ireland, and in the US, but why stay in the US when I could fly across the sea to Europe (and cause even more damage to the environment). Oh and Ireland well let’s just say the cover photo for that program was of them sitting on a truck... plus I like Europe even though Ireland is kind of a part of Europe? I had to google this info, obviously my geography (is this even the right word to use?) is very good
  • I want to apply to the CBYX program next year (wasn't able to apply this year because guess what I was 48 hours too young!) and would like to see what it is like before I apply and would like to see if I would like to be in Germany for a whole school year
  • Plus my grandparents are picking me up after the program ends to go around Europe and to see my aunt and uncle who live in Switzerland

Q: Since you don't take German at school, how is your German?

A: Uh... lets just say that it is not very good right now, but I am using Duolingo to help me out however I'm pretty sure my pronunciation is nowhere near close to how you are actually supposed to say it. My grandfather also for some unknown reasons owned a couple of German books.

Q: What are you most excited about for your trip?

A: Can I pick multiple things? Okay thanks!

A list filled with excitement:

  • Meeting all the amazing people who are joining me in Berlin
  • German food (heard it's amazing)
  • Learn about all sorts of different businesses
  • Hear stories from my other friends who are traveling abroad this summer with CIEE
  • Maybe spot a couple of hot German guys... hehe

Q: How do you imagine you first day abroad?

A: Full of excitement (and panic)? Excitement because I mean it's not everyday I get to go to Germany, meet all the amazing people I am going to meet, and hang out with my friend Stella for 4 hours? Panic because I mean who isn’t panicking when they leave their house to go to the airport and they know that they can’t come back if they forget something? Plus, Stella has not been on very many airplanes so I believe she may be very stressed while we are getting through security and everything, which will most likely rub off on me (wait should I just define that as stress then not panic?). I imagine that once we get off the plane and out of the airport I am going to be slightly confused (because of language barriers) and full of awe (at the amazing city).

Left to right: Isabelle-going to Korea for K-pop Immersion, Melia-unfortunately not going abroad with CIEE, Ellie-me (hopefully you know where I am going at this point in the post), Stella-joining me to Germany, Phoebe-going to Korea for K-pop Immersion, Amy-going to the Dominican Republic for Spanish Language and Culture

-Ellie M.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

Farewell, Berlin!

Friday, July 29 through Sunday, July 31st

Sadly, our journey here in Berlin is coming to an end!  Our events of the past few days have focused on soaking up a last little bit of the culture and history of Berlin before heading home tomorrow (Monday). 

On Friday, we split into two groups for some historical sightseeing.  One group visited Sachsenhausen, the site of a former concentration camp.  We wandered the exhibits on our own with individual audioguides so that we could have some quiet time to think and process this unsettling part of German history.  The second group chose to explore a more comprehensive side of Jewish history by visiting the Jewish Museum of Berlin.  They received a tour that focused on the symbolic architecture of the building and followed the exhibit through the history of Judaism from the Middle Ages to present day.


That evening, we all regrouped for a tour of the Reichstag.  The Reichstag is where German parliament meets and it's closest American equivalent would be the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.  We enjoyed our tour of the building and ended with time to climb the gorgeous glass dome at sunset.  The group got some really amazing photos. 

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On the way home we also stopped for a quick group photo at the Brandenburger Tor, which looked especially impressive in the evening light. 

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Saturday we had a pretty relaxed day.  We all set out for Jungfernheide for some swimming and fresh air and then students enjoyed a little free time to check off the last items on their sightseeing lists and grab their last few souvenirs.  

Finally for our last day on Sunday, students met for their last global entrepreneurship class.  Students discussed what it really means to be an entrepreneur and what the most important lessons they took away from the course were. Then we went out to lunch at a more stereotypical "German" restaurant for lunch.  With the awesome diversity here in Berlin, and especially in Kreuzberg, some students hadn't gotten a chance to try some more traditional German dishes, so it was a nice way to end the trip. 

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The group flies back tomorrow, so you'll be able to learn more about our trip first-hand once you are reunited with your travelers.  It's been a pleasure and we were so lucky to have such a talented and charismatic group of students- their program leaders will miss them!  We look forward to seeing all that they will accomplish and wish them all the best! 


Berlin's Biz Box Presentations!

Wednesday, July 27th and Thursday, July 28th

Welcome back!  With our final business presentations behind us, we have just a few days left in Berlin! The end is bittersweet as students are relieved to be done with all of the hard work, but sad to be leaving this amazing city.  

On Thursday we finished our final presentations for our global entrepreneurship course!! Students dressed to impress and pitched their business ideas to "potential investors" AKA their instructor (Martin Cielinski), their program leaders (Kate and Katie Ann),  and a few VIPs: the director of CIEE Berlin (Cary Nathenson) and the director of Community and Student Life at CIEE Berlin (Benjamin Lorch).  I was blown away by the compelling pitches and innovative product ideas we saw. Students were able to incorporate story telling, data, and originality into their brief ten minute pitches.  We celebrated the conclusion of the projects with some snacks and bubbly (non-alcoholic, of course) in the CIEE lounge. 






In addition to working hard on our projects, on Wednesday afternoon we received a history lesson by visiting the museum called Topography of Terror.  This museum presented us with some sobering information about the crimes committed by the Gestapo or secret police surrounding World War II.  We received a guided tour of the museum and spent a little time wandering around to absorb as much as we could, but it was a difficult topic to process and I think a lot of our students were overwhelmed by all there was to think about. 

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Expect one or two final blog posts in the coming days- although we're done with the projects, we've still got a few full days of the program! 


Playing "Lean", Olympiastadion, and Marley Spoon

Monday, July 25th and Tuesday, July 26th

This week our students are hard at work getting their business plans and prototypes finished.  With the program drawing to a close at the end of the week, the teams are working extremely hard to pull their presentations together and make sure they are happy with the final products they create.  We saw a lot of great team work and focus at this phase.  Amidst all of the entrepreneurial brainstorms, we’ve still made time for some very cool sightseeing and have a lot of fun and thought-provoking activities planned for the rest of our final week.




Playing "Lean"

Some students were also able to take a break from their own businesses and think through the process of creating a business by playing the “Playing Lean” board game.  Throughout the program, students are following Eric Ries’ “Lean” startup method.  The idea is to come up with a minimum viable product and continue to test this product and adjust to the needs of the customer.  Rather than investing a lot of money one one version of the product at the outset, this method allows for much more flexibility.  The game is a way to help students think critically about this process and act it out in a low stakes way.  


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On Tuesday afternoon, we visited Olympiastadion- site of the 1936 Summer Olympics.  Students picked up on some very rich history.  The construction of this stadium for the Olympics actually served as something of a propaganda move for the Nazi party at the time, which was strange to learn, but we also remember it as the stadium where Jesse Owens won his gold medals.  As our tour guide accurately stated, "life goes on" and the stadium has served a variety of purposes since it was constructed. In more recent years, the stadium has hosted huge concerts of the likes of Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen, as well as soccer events- even the World Cup!  We had a lot of fun exploring the more private areas of the stadium such as VIP seating and locker rooms, but the view of pitch was a sight of its own. 




Marley Spoon

On Tuesday evening, we all got together to cook some unique meals from a local company called Marley Spoon.  In the spirit of entrepreneurship, we have tried to connect with some of the small businesses that have been cropping up in Berlin and this was a tasty option. Marley Spoon is a company that encourages cooking new and exciting meals at home.  You order a meal and all of the ingredients are conveniently sent to your home for you to prepare- it’s similar to Blue Apron which you may be familiar with as it has become quite popular in the States. We prepared four of their options: chicken kabobs with rice, spaghetti with a feta avocado sauce, vegetarian sushi bowls, and Asian-inspired beef sandwiches.  We have all continued to enjoy cooking as a group. After two weeks of prepping our own meals this group is practically ready to start their own restaurant. ;) 

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Stay tuned later in the week for more information on the last couple sight-seeing and historical stops and our big presentation day- students will pitch their businesses on Thursday afternoon! 

A relaxing weekend adventure

July 22nd, 23rd and 24th

On Friday everyone packed their overnight bag and headed up north to quaint and calm Greifswald. The small city of roughly 55,000 provided us a base from which we explored the Baltic Sea. We were joined by students from the Language and Culture program in Berlin and spent our first day touring the tow,  eating ice cream in the main square and playing sports. We spent the night at a youth hostel (the cleanest I've seen in a while), and mingled on their basketball court, soccer field, volleyball court and ping pong tables.

Here we are learning about the town's history with our tour guide. We later learned that she was doing a doctorate in language acquisition and spoke 10 different languages!!



We woke up Saturday morning to find perfect beach day weather and promptly headed to the coast. Some sun bathed, some played sports and the one very dedicated individual was found doing extra reading for her entrepreneurship class.

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Back in Berlin Saturday evening, we called it an early night after much fun playing in the sun. Sunday our students headed out to Mauerpark – what was a stripe of no man's land during the time of the Berlin wall. The park now hosts a popular flea market showcasing many local products and designs, as well as great food trucks (we saw vegan gryos, smoothies, traditional German wurst trucks) and fun entertainment. On Sundays the park is a gathering place for a variety of musicians from rappers to folk bands and solo blues guitarists. The highlight of the day however was the outdoor Karaoke. A dream project started in 2009 with a man, a computer and a pair of amps has become a total sensation. Hundreds of people showed up to cheer on individuals from the audience who dared to grab the mike and sing in public. The vibe was outstandingly positive and supportive of the singers even when they were a bit off key. The audience often ended up singing along to (mostly English) hits. Take me home, country roads by John Denver was by far the favorite song of the afternoon.


We topped off the great weekend practicing our own singing skills with a rendition of “happy birthday” for one of our students who turned 16 today. Happy birthday Michael, we are happy to have shared it with you!


Adventures in Greifswald

We've arrived here at Greifswald on the North Sea! It's a beautiful costal town and we've had a great time exploring so far. We will have a more in depth blog post after we return to Berlin tomorrow.

Additionally we want to communicate that we're very sad to hear the recent news about the shooting in Munich. Luckily, we are all safe and very far away here in Greifswald.

Alternative businesses and scavenger hunts

Wed. July 20  and  Thurs. July 21

With our presentations to Cuccuma finished on Tuesday, we are now launching into the exciting process of creating our own products and pitching our own business ideas.  Mixed in with a little sight-seeing fun like a scavenger hunt, we've had an exciting couple of days.  

In the classroom

In class on Wednesday and Thursday, students have been working to pinpoint some viable product ideas for their culminating project of the program.  Business ideas currently include:

  • pockets that can be transferred to any piece of clothing
  • apps that assist with the difficult task of selecting gifts for loved ones
  • technology that provides water for drought stricken regions
  • a site to assist with job placement for unusual tasks like waiting in line or providing company at the movies 
  • a community that connects successful ex-pat entrepreneurs 
  • a convenient and fresh burrito delivery service
  • an app for creating local scavenger hunts 
  • an innovative haven for fishermen 
  • and many many more!

Students are working to really analyze the markets and determine what would make each of these products unique.  They will continue to pivot and alter the ideas to adapt to new information from the market and will likely reform their teams as they determine which products are the best projects to pursue at this time and place.  We are very excited to see the end results! 

On Thursday we were also delighted to host a guest speaker: Travis Todd, one of the co-founders of the Berlin start-up community Silicon Allee.  He was able to give the students some extremely valuable advice, and it was great to see the thought provoking questions the students brought up.  Topics ranged from venture capitalism to business ethics to how to learn from failure. I was extremely impressed with the thought students put into their questions and it was fascinating to see the different aspects of the business that their minds were drawn to. 


In the garden

On Wednesday afternoon, we visited and toured Prinzessinnengarten as an example of a very different type of entrepreneurial project.  Prinzessinnengarten is a newer community garden project in a prime location in downtown Berlin, but upon setting food into the lush green surroundings, you'd have no idea you were in the middle of a huge metropolis.  The garden is a non-profit that sustains itself by selling delicious food and drinks in its cafe, as well as helping other small communities start gardening projects.  Other projects involve a bike repair shop, book exchange, and even some beekeeping.  We were served a fantastic meal made with all local products (some of which even come from the garden itself) and took a tour of the facility.  As a non-profit, it was a great departure from the technology and hospitality focus that we've seen in some of our other lessons and it was lovely to spend some time outdoors enjoying local food. 



All around town

On Wednesday evening students also participated in a photo scavenger hunt around town.  They were divided into teams and had to take photos of their whole team in various places around the city.  It was a nice way to ensure that we hit a lot of the sight-seeing highlights and students also had to be VERY cooperative to map an effective route and earn the most points!  Winners will be announced later this weekend, but we had some excellent entries and some great photos. 






Bonus from the weekend: 

One of our awesome entrepreneurs shared a really cool video he made of our trip to Potsdam.  It gives you a really great image of what we did and is very well done. :) 


Up next: 

We will be in Greifswald- a small town on the North Sea for an overnight trip from Friday to Saturday.  Stay tuned for more updates! 

Tuesday's events: CBD, Berlin/Dublin check in and LOTS of work perfecting our Seadogs Presentations

Portland GE students opened the day with a conversation about what effective public speaking looks like.  We talked about how to KISS it and the importance of keeping it REAL

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We connected with Berlin and Dublin via Skype (technology is fun when it works!) and traded stories including our favorite new vocabulary terms in the local languages.  

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We got to meet the Berlin groups' mascot 

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Portland students enjoyed listening to stories from their counterparts in Berlin and Dublin


After the Skype check-in students went to work to perfect their presentations for the Seadogs case study.  Groups worked hard and learned a lot along the way - these presentations require students to draw on so many skills:   creativity, courage, public speaking, teamwork, data analysis, graphic design, just to name a few.  Presentations begin at 9:30 AM tomorrow morning and they will be fabulous!!!!

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After lunch we traveled in the magic white school bus to visit Coffee By Design and hear the stories of founders Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear.  Their story inspired us all and gave students new insights into all the facets of running a growing business and the importance of maintaining the integrity of your relationships with business partners, suppliers and all those who contribute to your success.  Students were invited to sample to cold brew ice coffee blends.




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And when it was time to leave students were given a special gift from the owners.  We had a fabulous time and many students were planning to visit the downtown Portland CBD shop the next time we visit the old port.

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Overall a fantastic afternoon and a well-deserved treat after a morning of hard work!

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Presentation day!

Day 8 and 9 - July 18th and 19th

The past two days have been a bee hive of creative activity here at the study center as students geared up for a final presentation for their business partner, Cuccuma. With class in the morning, the afternoons were largely spent analyzing their market research, honing their message, and working on presentation skills.


We are happy to report that the hard work paid off!

Students used a wide variety of mediums to express their ideas ranging from edited videos to drawings to lego models of the cafe. One group even coded (from scratch!!) a new prototype website for Cuccuma and their budding catering business. Their teacher Martin and Cuccuma's Owner (both pictured below) were joined by the study center's director, Cary Nathenson and the academic director, Martin Kley in listening, celebrating and critiquing the students' presentations.


A few photos of the students in action:



And a lego model that the owner of Cuccuma ended up taking home!


Observations of the students' presentations eventually led to an afternoon class session on cultural self-awareness and social curiosity and their link to success in international business. Bit by bit we continue to dig deeper into understanding why we are here in Berlin, how to recognize our own biases, how to connect across cultures and how to prepare ourselves to participate in the global economy.

Additionally we had our second skype session with the Global Entrepreneurship teams in Portland, Maine and Dublin, Ireland. This forum has allowed us to connect, share and learn from each other. The European group of students currently in Portland, Maine has made us laugh and ponder many times with their reflections on being in the United States. 

Over the next few days students will be introduced to their next project...we'll have updates coming!