by Vanessa Meyer.

The Transcultural Caravan is more than happy to introduce our newest team members, Michelle Sun and Nicolas Göller, to the community. They are both students at Zeppelin University and will help us to further develop the Transcultural Caravan’s ideas, networks, events and research goals in the new year. In order to find out what they are up to exactly and how they came to work for the Transcultural Caravan, our Project Collaborator Vanessa set down with them for an interview. 

Vanessa: Welcome Michelle and Nicolas! Tell me, how did you learn about the Transcultural Caravan?

Michelle: I was stumbling upon it on Facebook. Back then I was attending an intercultural seminar in Jena and looked for Master programmes going in the direction of interculturality. I saw the call for papers that was launched for the first Transcultural Leadership Summit in 2016 and was immediately interested in the Transcultural Caravan. This is actually how I came to know about Zeppelin University and one of the reasons why I eventually decided to do my Master here.

Nicolas: I first got to know the Caravan in my first semester when you, Vanessa, were presenting the Transcultural Caravan to us during our Orientation Week. But it wasn’t until I joined the organization team for the Transcultural Leadership Summit 2017 before I really got to know the Caravan and learned what transcultural leadership and transculturality is really about.

Vanessa: What was it that motivated you most to become a part of our team?

Michelle: For me there are two main reasons: First, as I said, interculturality is a subject that interests me a lot and second, the people. I wanted to have a job that would expand my studying context by gaining work experience as well. And when I met Julika Baumann Montecinos, you and the whole team, it really motivated me to join the team, because I think that it has a great work atmosphere.

Nicolas: For me it was my interest in working on the terms of leadership and what defines them, especially in an international context which is also a transcultural context. I realized that transculturality is not only a thing of nationality or ethnicity but rather the essential cooperation between all kinds of cultures – cultures of profession, religion, gender and so on. That, I think, is something very central to our daily lives, how we work, live and move, which I think is very interesting to study and work at.

Vanessa: What will be your area of responsibility in the Transcultural Caravan?

Michelle: I share responsibility with you – I am a project collaborator as you are, which includes looking after the website, all social media accounts, curating and expanding our network as well as coordinating all the different projects of the Transcultural Caravan. For example, we also have a book project upcoming, which we will help editing.

Nicolas: I will be organizing the Transcultural Research Group on Uganda. It is a project with students from Zeppelin University and partner Universities from Sub-Saharan Africa. The students will go to Uganda for field research on a wide range of topics: leadership, sustainability, society, business & entrepreneurship. The idea for this project was established thanks to one of our speakers at the Transcultural Leadership Summit 2017, Dr. Agnes Atim Apea, who is the founder of a non-governmental organization in Uganda. Additionally, I will be consulting the new organizing team of the Transcultural Leadership Summit 2018.

Vanessa: What are your expectations for working at the Transcultural Caravan?

Michelle: As the Caravan only exists since a few years, the platform is still growing, and I am really excited to be a part of this process. I’d like to expand the network and hope that the Caravan will become stronger and bigger every day. Personally, I already have some experience in project management in the field of music, but the area of leadership and business is still quite new to me. I am looking forward to get insight into these new subjects.

Nicolas: I expect a small motivated team to work within. I also expect the Transcultural Caravan to have an abundance of exiting projects that will spark my interest and further broaden my knowledge about transculturality. For me personally I am excited to get further experience in the area of project management. And, of course, I hope that the Transcultural Leadership Summit 2018 will be even bigger, better and more fantastic than the last one – even though the bar is set high already. For the research project on Uganda I hope to find ambitious and passionate students, who have a great interest in Uganda and the research we are planning to do there.

Vanessa: Why do you want to work transcultural – what means transculturality to you?

Michelle: I know this is an answer you might hear quite often, but I think that in a world where we grow closer together every day, transculturality is something that will become ubiquitous. Therefore, it is very important to do further research on the concept and get acquainted with it. Personally, coming from an international family, I think I got used to transculturality from the start and I really enjoy and even prefer working with people from all kinds of disciplines and all parts of the world rather than being in a team of people who all think the same way. To me it seems that you can learn a lot more this way.

Nicolas: Transculturality to me is a network in which people have their specific characteristics but when they interact they do not focus on their differences but rather look for what is common between them. From this starting point cooperation can evolve. I think the point why I want to work transcultural is this cooperative process, that I really try to achieve, as it is a lot more productive then banging your heads against each other. I think it is really a give and take in a good cooperative process where you have to use your network in order to get something done.

Vanessa: Can you share your best transcultural experiences with us?

Michelle: For me this is a really hard question, as it is difficult to single out the best transcultural experience out of so many I have made so far. I could think of so many travel experiences for example, or even coming to this university, which was kind of a cultural shock for me as well. I think every time you move or change something in your life, it is a transcultural experience in one or another way. And every new experience you make in a transcultural context is potentially a great one.

Nicolas: For me that would be within the context of the Transcultural Leadership Summit. I got to meet some of the speakers beforehand and showed them around the Zeppelin University, talking about our university and their respective ones. For me it was especially interesting to see how amazed the speakers were by what we do here and the spirit of this university, as they were trying to achieve the same in their own universities or institutes. That showed me that this sense of participation, the openness and cooperative spirit of our university follows a common trend that we all share. I think that is also how I felt when first coming here. So, this is quite a similarity.

Nicolas Göller, 19 years old, studying Sociology, Politics and Economics (SPE) in his 4th semester at Zeppelin University, from the South of Germany, interested in societal processes of organizations and corporations, to which transculturality and leadership are essential elements

Michelle Sun, 23 years old, B.A. in Musicology and Arts Management in Weimar playing the violin, studying M.A. Politics, Administration & International Relations in her 2nd semester at Zeppelin University, from Austria with a French-German family background