After all the preparation in the last months we are very happy to announce that the Transcultural Student Research Group 2021 on the topic “The Impacts of the Belt and Road Initiative on Europe: The Case of Poland and Germany” has started its research trip. This year the Transcultural learning journey will have many stops both in Poland and Germany.The first one is Gdánsk.
After our first get together in person at Wednesday evening, we visited the European Center of Solidarność in our first day to get elemental impressions about the history of the city and explore a place which makes development of democracy visible.
In the afternoon, we continued our journey by visiting the biggest port of Poland. The port of Gdansk demonstrates the transportation hub Poland is playing in the BRI project with the accompanying investments and political implications for Poland and the countries along the BRI.
In our second day, we travelled from Gdansk to Warsaw. There, we visited Huawei Polska and got some very interesting insights into the company, its connection towards China, the strategy and communication as well as the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
On our second day in Warsaw we got the chance to talk with different people from the University of Warsaw. In various talks we learned more about the Belt and Road BRI railway routes, the 16+1 Initiative and the educational possibilities and research projects at the University of Warsaw dealing with China and the BRI.
The third day of TSRG2021’s researchtrip was a bit looser. Before going to Łódź, we split into two groups. The first one took advantage of the artistic achievements of the capital and visited the Muzeum Narodowe (National Museum). The second one went to Łódź earlier, where after lunch in one of the ramen houses, visited Piotrkowska Street, the unicorn stable and the exhibition dedicated to KrzysztofKieślowski at EC1.
On the fifth day of our transcultural journey, we had a lecture about paradiplomacy with Prof Tomasz Kamiński and Dr Joanna Ciesielska-Klikowskawska at the University of Lódz. During the class, the group gained very interesting insights into the relationship between European cities, especially Polish and German cities, and China, their opportunities, problems and areas of cooperation.In the afternoon the group visited the Marshall office of the voivodeship Lódz. There, the participants in the #TSRG2021 learnt that the connection between the Lodzkie region and China is mainly built on the railway to Chengdu which opened in 2013 and since then is moving forward with different projects connected to China.Our trip in Poland concluded with a dinner with Alicja Bachulska and the team of the Instytut Boyma.
Our next day was filled by travelling from Warsaw to Duisburg.
The first day of September is also the first day of our visit to Duisburg. We started our day-long work at the Metropolis Ruhr Confucius Institute by listening to the lecture of Suzanne Lohr, director of this institution, who described its activities. Then we heard remarks about Duisburg’s Relationship to China and the BRI in Duisburg made by Professor Thomas Heberer, President of China Business Network Duisburg (CBND) Johannes Pflug and member of the CBND board Christian Muller-Kemler. Members of the student research group also had the opportunity to ask their questions. The day ended with an inspiring lecture on the relationship between the New Silk Road and transculturalism by professor Josef Wieland, after which all research groups discussed their questions and doubts related to their work.
In the second day in Duisburg, the group visited the town hall of the city of Duisburg. They first met with Amelie Erxleben from the Duisburg Intermodal Terminal who shared very interesting insights into the coordination of rail connections from and to China. Afterwards, the group had the opportunity to discuss different viewpoints of the BRI in a roundtable with Markus Teuber, the China Representative of the City of Duisburg and Johannes Grünhage from the China Relations Department. In addition, three managers from Chinese companies settled in Duisburg joined our discussion and expanded the exchange.
After a lunch break, the mayor of the city of Duisburg, Sören Link, joined the roundtable and answered further questions and got in further exchange about China, the BRI and the city of Duisburg.
The group finished the day with a visit to the Kultur- und Stadtgeschichtliches Museum gaining insights into the history of the city of Duisburg as well as into an important collection on the life’s work of Mercator.