The Falling Walls Experience

Here I am, for the third time in a year in a city I adore very much… BERLIN 😀
Since 2010,I have visited Berlin at least once a year, and every time I return I spend a wonderful time that lets Berlin invites me for an even more interesting event.
I arrived in Berlin early in the morning. Marwa who spent most of the last couple of years in Kenya had started to forget how harsh German winters could be. Never the less, a walk along the River Spree through the museum island and a stroll through the Tiergarten passing by Palace Bellevue and ending at the Brandenburg awaken many sweet memories in her mind. Karl-Heinz Korn, Andrea Biesler and Jens Funk, from the heart of Berlin, Marwa’s heart is missing her first visit to this place together with the three of you.My dear friend Layali, here I remember all our adventures and I could almost hear your laughs around me while we spent a beautiful holiday in Berlin together.

Berlin Calling
Berlin Calling
Was happy to be able to stare at the fireplace on the TV screen and feel warmer :-D
Was happy to be able to stare at the fireplace on the TV screen and feel warmer 😀

One of the reasons that I personally find very attracting in Berlin is that it is full of contradictions. From its traditional baroque cathedral and few old palaces, to its modern glassy buildings, to its super luxurious boutiques and hip flea markets. The idea that Berlin has many parks, gardens and open spaces makes me think sometimes that the city was only built to fill in the gaps between them.
Why did Marwa return to Berlin this time of the year?
I had thought that Orlando was probably my last trip for the year 2016, but while I was still in Orlando, I was notified that I was selected to take part in the Falling Walls Lab.
The Falling Walls Lab is an initiative that aims to promote scientific and entrepreneurial vision and to initiate and promote inter-disciplinary exchanges between young scientists and young professional. The Falling Walls Foundation, with the support of the international management consultancy firm A.T. Kearney (Founding Partner) and Festo AG & Co KG (Global Partner) organizes it. In case you wonder, what is the Falling Walls then it is a unique international platform for leaders from the worlds of science, business, politics, the arts and society and was initiated on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.
The Falling Walls gathering aims to ignite discussions on research and innovation and to promote the latest scientific findings among an interdisciplinary and cross-societal audience by asking the question: Which walls will fall next. The question is inspired from the world changing even of the falling of Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

Overwhelmed at the Lab
Overwhelmed at the Lab
3 minutes including questions and comments
3 minutes including questions and comments
The Falling Walls Lab venue
The Falling Walls Lab venue
Brain dating: a unique idea that allows two brains to meet and exchange thoughts after booking an online date via the Falling Walls Connect app
Brain dating: a unique idea that allows two brains to meet and exchange thoughts after booking an online date via the Falling Walls Connect app

We were told that around 2,500 applications from all over the world were submitted for the Falling Walls Lab this year and only 100 hundred of these applicants were selected to attend the Lab Finale in Berlin and were given the chance to present their research projects and ideas in 3 minutes. It is thought that the some of the ideas presented at the Lab have the potential to change our world.
Of course, Marwa was there together with her friends the Black Soldier Flies. The flies that she displayed at the Lab were Berliners and she obtained them from Hermetia GmbH/Katz Biotech in order to avoid all the hustle related to importing living specimens from Kenya and all the way to Germany.

These BSFs scream: Ich bin ein Berliner :-)
These BSFs scream: Ich bin ein Berliner 🙂

Following the Lab, the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier addressed the Falling Walls participants with a welcome speech during the welcome reception that took place at the Jewish Museum.
Later on, we the scholars were invited to an exclusive dinner with Stefan Simianer, Vice President International Development and General Manager R&D of AbbVie Germany and it was a good chance to network and communicate with each other in a cozy ambiance.

The welcome reception at the Jewish Museum
The welcome reception at the Jewish Museum
Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister of Education and Research addressing the audience at the conference (top) and Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the welcome museum
Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister of Education and Research addressing the audience at the conference (top) and Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the welcome reception
Our dinner with Stefan Simianer, Vice President International Development and General Manager R&D of AbbVie Germany.
Our dinner with Stefan Simianer, Vice President International Development and General Manager R&D of AbbVie Germany.

The Falling Walls Conference is perhaps one of the most exciting and interesting cross cutting science and society gathering of our time and as a Lab Finalist; I was privileged to attend the rather very expensive conference free of charge together with the lab scholars and some of the brightest minds of our time.

The Falling Walls Conference
The Falling Walls Conference
Impressions from the Conference
Impressions from the Conference

I am here sitting and reflecting on the Falling Walls experience, trying to soak it all and I am very happy that I got the chance to be part of it. Lots of brilliant ideas and many interesting projects representing the complexities of our world and the diversity of our academic as well as cultural backgrounds. All add up to the innovative solutions that the scholars proposed in the lab. Marwa feels that she is one heck of a very lucky girl for she got the chance to share with such an interesting group of scholars her scientific passion.
I would like to thank Laura, Lisa and Naveed and the whole team behind the Falling Walls gathering for their great organizational efforts, welcoming and taking care of us and making sure that we would get the best out of this chance. I would also like to thank Heinrich and Peter Katz for coming in to the rescue and providing me with some German BSFs 🙂 I really appreciate it. Baba, thank you for pushing me to take advantage of yet another interesting and wonderful opportunity. I am extremely grateful to all your support and encouragement.

Upon my arrival in Kenya, I spotted many zebras grazing along the airport road and they were very beautiful. Now that I know that not so much time left for me in Kenya, I started my countdown and pressed the ‘BEAST MODE’ button.
Till later 😀

Zebras outside the airport. Karibu Kenya :-D
Zebras outside the airport. Karibu Kenya 😀

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Marwa Shumo Written by:

An environment biotechnologist,a junior researcher & a doctoral fellow. I am here to report my adventures as a visiting scholar and a field researcher in Kenya :-) My research in a nutshell is waste and flies..Follow my blog posts for further information.

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