A Beer in the Garden: From Munich to Mongolia and Back

Our first Munich meetup exceeded our expectations as a casual chat quickly transformed into a global adventure - thanks to our wonderful new friends in Munich!

Meeting new people is always a gamble. Fortunately, we have learned to anticipate a certain level of openness, confidence and competence within our Harvard community - people who have dedicated themselves to the acquisition of knowledge and the development of valuable relationships. Each and every attendee embodied these characteristics as we celebrated our new community together in the Hirschau Biergarten, Munich's beautiful English Garden on 10 September 2020.

Prior to meeting, I had the opportunity to speak with Vijesh Kumar, who introduced me to his passion project in which he travels to isolated tribes in remote regions of the world and extreme climates to photograph, experience and write about their unique cultures and traditions. I asked Vijesh to bring an example of his work and we are all grateful that he did! Thanks to Vijesh's breathtaking photography skills, his captivating storytelling and his detailed knowledge of the cultures, we were transported to the nomadic reindeer herders of Mongolia and Siberia - cousin tribes separated for many generations by thousands of kilometers - which Vijesh connected through his work on his expeditions. 

Of course, this is only one example of the many fascinating topics which our incredibly international group explored as we enjoyed a classic Biergarten buffet at our table, including Hefeweizen beer, traditional Bavarian pretzels, grilled salmon and mackerel, roasted chicken, potato salad, fresh radishes, fresh sauerkraut, french fries and curry-BBQ sauce. 

Left to right: Natalie Zimmermann-Schäfer (Germany), Gentjan Qama (Albanian/Italy), Henrique Neto Soutinho (Brazil), Andreas von Sachsen-Altenburg (USA/Germany), Janik Prottung (Germany), Vijesh Kumar (India), Eric Piolot (Switzerland)

Throughout the four hours that we spent together, there was never a dull moment. Janik shared his experiences from a year of traveling around Asia, Australia and South America; Henrique gave us an inside perspective into the complex and increasingly innovative world of trade fairs as a Project Manager at the Munich Trade Fair; Eric introduced us to his roles in multiple VC organizations in Europe and the USA; Gentjan helped us understand the significance and multifaceted potential of microprocessors; and Natalie cast a shadow of womanly strength over the boys as she described her role as a Business Area Head at the Hilti Group and how she conquered the HBS coursework while succeeding as a proud mother of two.

Finally, our Munich Organizer, Janik Prottung, deserves a special "thank you" for helping to organize this "wunderbar" Biergarten experience and being the source of laughter throughout the evening. Needless to say, it will not be long before we meet again in Munich - there is still much more to explore!