And… we’re off! The fellowship officially began Saturday afternoon when our amazing cohort of 20 fellows, who are joining us from 12 countries, met us at the Berlin Wall Memorial Strip.
Our local host, Kathleen, welcomed the group and provided some cultural and sentimental context for where we were standing — above a tunnel that connected East Berlin to the West, in front of a memorial where the wall used to stand.
After a short introduction to the program and the city, we walked as a (BIG) group over to our home base for the week, AHOY! In AHOY we played the longest round of one-legged stand game that we’ve played so far (with 20 fellows and 7 UnSchool team members, this was truly an endurance test). By the end, our legs were a little sore but we totally remembered the names and weird facts of everyone in the room– thanks to the cognitive trick of making something stick by learning it under more challenging circumstances (in this case having to stay coordinated and balanced on one leg while thinking, talking, remembering!).
Some coffee helped us gear up for a rapid-fire series of Pecha Kucha talks. With each person getting 3 minutes to tell us who they are, what they’re all about, what they do for love and for money, what their burning passions and current challenges are, we ran through the group getting to know everyone a bit more than their One Legged facts had revealed.
Our cohort is filled with some seriously impressive humans from a wide array of backgrounds participating in change in diverse ways in their own domains. From mountaineering, to working with non-profits supporting Syrian Refugees here in Berlin, to ceramics, to actively encouraging creative industry in the Middle East, to contributing to the slow food movement, to raising millions of dollars for nonprofits through hand drawn greeting cards, to creating conceptual stools inspired by PacMan and… the list goes on. We can’t wait to see what type of collaboration comes out of the week.
For our second adventure in large-group-travel-to-a-secret-destination, our team led fellows on a walking-metro-bus-walking journey to a surprise location: Bauhaus-Archiv, a museum and library that houses artefacts from Germany’s world famous Bauhaus.
The Bauhaus was a college of art, architecture, and design that existed from 1919 to 1933 and is regarded as the 20th century’s most import design school, founded by Walter Gropius who also designed the Bauhaus-Archiv in Berlin. We were lucky to get a private tour, led by the Archiv’s Scientific Specialist, Ms. Güldner. Her passion was contagious as she explained how Bauhaus tore down silos and brought together artists, designers, architects, engineers, and more to create a new vision of society– how they instigated a movement around art, design, and engineering being more than it had been previously.
One of the chairs on exhibit, designed by Marcel Breuer, really struck us. Despite being nearly a hundred years old it seemed to be just as contemporary and modern as any chair you might buy today — and if you wanted something like this you might expect it to cost thousands of dollars. But, Breuer’s chair, when designed in 1925 was intentionally functional and affordable– the vision was to create beautiful household items that every German family could afford.
Our visit to Bauhaus-Arhiv and guided tour reinforced themes that we will continue to explore throughout the week including a critical approach to the products we bring into the world and the role that these products play in the lives of everyday people. We love the concept of creativity being a catalyst for something more than the institutions want it to be, and Bauhaus was one of the inspirations for the UnSchool, so we were thrilled to get to explore the archive, history and spirit of it.
The tour wrapped up at BauHaus Re Use, a building constructed with materials from the original Bauhaus in Dessau, where our team had set up for a surprise evening of drinks and tapas.
After a night of spirited conversations and a few spontaneous dance moves, we called it a day and left Bauhaus to rest up for Day 2.
Keep up with our adventures in full time by following #UnSchoolBerlin on twitter and instagram!