Every year between July and August, the GCE programme hosts current students, alumni, professors of the program, and friends as they all come together to celebrate, network, and learn more about each other’s cultures at the Summer Fête. Given the cancellation in 2020, this year’s event was particularly anticipated – and it certainly delivered a great experience for all who attended.
Our group gathered on a fair July 24th afternoon. The event kicked off with a speech by Programme Head Carl Beierkuhlein, emphasizing how the extreme floods in Germany and the pandemic are related to climate change. As we continue to see connections between events like these, it becomes even clearer how global changes are compounding to aggravate negative effects for all. The Global Change Ecology Master Programme, with its interdisciplinary nature, is uniquely positioned to address these changes at the interface of environment, ecology, and society. Now more than ever, committed individuals from all over the world and their work are essential to solving these current and future ecological problems. In a way, the Fête serves not only as a celebration of the GCE programme and its people, but also as a reaffirmation of this mission.
The Summer Fête is also a great opportunity for exchange between current GCE students and GCE alumni, who can shed a light on what they are doing, tips for the best outcome in the programme, and career prospects. Fortunately, some alumni were able to join us this year. Moreover, this gathering marked the presence of three generations of GCE coordinators: Volker Audorff (the first coordinator), Stephanie Thomas (current coordinator), and Anja Jaeschke (former-coordinator). Unfortunately, Sylvia Sprödhuber, current coordinator alongside Stephanie, was absent.
A lot of effort is invested in the making of the Summer Fête (Cheers to the Student Board for organising it!). This year, we dove into Mexican culture with the Piñata Workshop, which was led by GCE 2020 Diana Pineda before the date of the Summer Fête. The final piñatas were then filled with sweets and brought to the event. Blindfolded students and professors took turns trying to hit them in an attempt to release all the goodies. It was an interactive moment that provided good laughs and plenty of fun (as well as candy!) to everyone. In order to level our Latin game up, we followed up this activity by learning some salsa moves with dance teacher Dewi Krijger and GCEs Diana, Gabriela, and Elena Wiese.
And who thought that GCE students only thrive in academics? Think again! The get together also made it possible for students to perform, and we got beautiful presentations from GCE 2020 students Elena Wiese and Mira Rodrian, who sang and played the guitar. Songs with important messages about the planet — and of course a couple of pop hits — made the atmosphere at the Fête even more cosy, as everyone enjoyed the music and sang along with the girls.
International cuisine is another highlight of the Fête. Everyone volunteered to contribute a dish, and many took the opportunity to share a piece of their culture by bringing a dish from their home country for all to try. Additionally, the event also offered a barbecue with vegetarian and vegan options, in order to be inclusive for all.
Sustainability, culture, good food, dances, and great people made this long-awaited GCE Summer Fête special. The opportunity to engage in intercultural exchange with old friends and new, all connected via a shared desire to better the world, was the gold of the Fête. As the end of the event approached, everyone pitched in to clean up, exchanging smiles at the acts of contribution and the satisfaction of making the 2021 GCE Summer Fête one to remember.