HomeEducationSustainability EducationEight UMN students share the importance of global partnership at Moving the Cities 2023

Eight UMN students share the importance of global partnership at Moving the Cities 2023

“Progress toward climate-smart systems will require international collaboration and cross-cultural sensitivity.” That’s one of University of Minnesota student Annabella Lau’s take-home messages from participating in Moving the Cities 2023, an international entrepreneurship challenge. 

Annabella is one of eight UMN students who traveled to Germany this past October to collaborate with students, industry professionals, and professors from universities around the world through Moving the Cities. The program uses team-based problem solving to approach urban challenges. This year’s challenge was focused on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 17 “Partnership for the Goals,” so teams created solutions that promoted global partnership and collaboration. 

Each of the eight students shared a reflection of their time at the event, highlighting the unique opportunity of being able to participate in intercultural teamwork during their academic career.

The reflections may be lightly edited for clarity and length.  

Annabella Lau

Moving the Cities was an incredible opportunity to practice working with the intersections of sustainability and the business world. Navigating business ventures while prioritizing environmental and social sustainability was both overwhelming and empowering. This type of prompt is not business-as-usual, but also shows students how they can tangibly lead change. 

The most valuable experience that I gained from this exchange was participating in inter-cultural, international, and diverse teamwork. Demand for cultural awareness skills and empathy will only increase in importance in the workforce, especially for sustainability. 

Annabella Lau is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Systems Management at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. 

Violet Forster

Our journey in the Moving the Cities program was not just about solving regional sustainability challenges but also about fostering a sense of global partnerships. The interactions with peers from different cultural backgrounds broadened my perspective and allowed me to appreciate the richness of diversity. It was inspiring to witness how people from around the world could come together, bridge differences, and collaborate together for a similar cause.

This program reaffirmed my belief in the importance of empathy while collaborating with global partnerships. By actively listening to the perspectives of my peers and valuing their insights, I learned that true collaboration goes beyond geographical boundaries. It is about appreciating different viewpoints and finding common ground to work together in harmony. 

As I reflect on this experience, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be part of a community that shares my passion for sustainable development and global cooperation.  I’m positively impacted by the relationships and friendships that blossomed among students, instructors, and organizers from nine universities and six nationalities (Austria, Brazil, Chile, Germany, UK, and USA). This program has not only equipped me with valuable skills but also instilled a great sense of responsibility toward creating a better, more sustainable future. It was a privilege to participate in this global initiative, where we tackled regional sustainability issues through innovative solutions.

Violet Forester is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environment, Sustainability, and Geography at the University of Minnesota Duluth. 

Andrea Ray

Moving the Cities 2023 was an experience I will never forget. In the midst of the most important and stressful semester of my life, I was given the opportunity to flee the country and do what I didn’t know I loved: collaboratively solving environmental challenges. It was on this trip where I not only solidified my confidence in pursuing a career in this field, but where I also solidified confidence in myself. It wasn’t until I was put in a completely different environment with nothing to lose that I realized the level of my skill set. It was an incredibly unique experience that allowed me to trust myself. I also found great conversation and introspection when meeting new people from completely different backgrounds. I was able to gain a completely different perspective on myself from folks I had literally just met. 

Andrea Ray is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. 

Suman Lata

Moving The Cities was a journey like no other, with a shared objective of devising innovative solutions for Sustainable Development Goal 17 – “Partnerships for the Goals.” In the span of a week, we experienced moments of profound historical significance and delved into the heart of local culture.

Moving The Cities was not just a platform for fostering sustainable partnerships but also an exploration of history and culture. As we worked towards addressing the challenges of SDG 17, we not only gained invaluable insights but also nurtured cross-cultural connections that led to lasting friendships and potential collaborations. The program offered a glimpse into the potential for global cooperation to tackle the most pressing issues of our time.

Moving The Cities was a journey of learning, discovery, and connection. It has left an indelible mark on my heart, reaffirming the significance of partnerships in creating a more sustainable and harmonious world. As we move forward, we carry with us the lessons learned, the friendships formed, and a renewed determination to make a positive impact on the planet.

Suman Lata is a Ph.D student in Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. 

Meghan Anderson

Moving the Cities was such a fun, interesting, and challenging experience! Our team of five spanned three continents, with backgrounds in business, marketing, engineering, and policy. We learned from each other and our experienced team of mentors to put together a project proposal that we were proud of – all in a single week. We worked hard, had a lot of fun, and got to explore the beautiful city of Münster! It was such a great experience and I  learned so much – about the expected things like social businesses, entrepreneurship, and cross-cultural communication, but also leadership, listening, flexibility, and responsibility. 

Meghan Anderson is pursuing a Masters of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. 

Molly McMullen 

The Moving the Cities program enabled me to develop skills and gain perspectives that are crucial for taking part in addressing grand challenges. The immersive and interdisciplinary approach of this experience provided a valuable opportunity for growth and personal development in a cross-cultural setting. 

Molly McMullen is pursuing a Masters of Science in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. 

Gracie Bahr

To describe my experience in one word: Wow. If I got a second word: Incredible. It is difficult for me to put into enough words that would adequately capture my time at Moving the Cities. It was one of the most transformational experiences of my life. 

The cultural connections blew me away. To come together to work towards a common goal that would impact each of our countries, and the world, while learning about and taking into consideration each others’ lives, struggles, and perspectives was fascinating. I learned so much from so many people and left with many life-long friends. I look forward to many years of flourishing relationships with the people I met, and challenging the world for change to create peace and prosperity universally.

Gracie Bahr is pursuing a Bachelors of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics at the University of Minnesota Duluth. 

Riley Robideau 

I had the most incredible experience with Moving the Cities. I loved using my knowledge and creativity to work towards something I am passionate about: sustainable development. However, an unexpected outcome is the lifelong connections and friendships I formed. I developed skills for working as part of an intercultural team and now have friends across the world. The accumulation of each individual’s background led to making creative solutions for global issues, which I could not have developed on my own. 

Riley Robideau is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources and Industrial Relations at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. 

To learn more about Moving the Cities, visit the German Universities of Applied Sciences website, at https://www.uas7.org/en/projects-partners/moving-cities

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