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Chicago adventure nb1: WorldChicago - Looking forward to all the handshakes

Napisano: 30. 04. 2016 04:22

By: dr. Maja Turnsek Hancic



When we started our ponnod company, we got involved in a number of entrepreneurship networks and educational programs. One of them was CEED, an important source of knowledge and connections.

Looking for something on CEED Slovenia Facebook page, I accidentally stumbled upon short news bulletin: a call is out for the WorldChicago – an opportunity to visit the U.S.A. for one month, almost all expenses paid by the U.S. government.

Who am I to miss out on an opportunity like that?

In front of the aquarium in Chicago

Maja Turnsek Hancic and the Fish

The Professional Fellows Program is an exchange program funded by the U.S. A.  

WorldChicago is promising  “Citizen Diplomacy one Handshake at a time” (I really like the slogan!)  and the program’s goal is:

“for the PFP Fellows to gain insight into best practices in tech innovation, entrepreneurship, and education and how an effective urban tech innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem operates.”

Exactly what we need – to gain insight into what is going on in the land where aquaponics has been flourishing the most in the last couple of years. The program covers my travel expenses,  a 30 $ per diem  and they arrange a kind host. A host is a volunteer that is willing to share her/his roof with strangers.

I am looking forward to all the handshakes!

First we had an introductory meeting at the WorldChicago – there is quite a diverse group of people here – all “future leaders” if I borrow the concept by which they are referring to us.

First, we had a proper introduction into what to do and where is what etc. Talk about good PR practice from the U.S. government - we even got simple instructions about how to use social media and what to hashtag about (see picture bellow).



Furthermore, we got introduced to some cultural points that we need to keep in mind. For example, they say that Americans say “thank you” a lot (basically trying to prepare us not to be rude here).

One of my first impressions of the States is that people are really, incredibly friendly and good humored. Almost everyone you talk to, knows how to make jokes (trust me – it’s a skill) and how to make you feel good about yourself. I need to learn that.  Here you go! Another point on my list! This second list will obviously be more like the Santa’s list.

Next we had an interesting discussion with Terra Winston from InTerract Consulting.

An interesting point that was made in the discussion and could be applied to aquaponics: it is sometimes easier to persuade people when you introduce a whole new concept, since people do not have any pre-existing counter-arguments yet and have not made up their mind about it yet. So aquaponics is something like this - for many people it so completely new, that it becomes its own concept and its own “ball-game”.


Terra Winston - the lecturer, and Egon Avbar, Bojan Vuković and Jernej Mirt - my fellow participants



Tomorrow I am already going on my first tour: MetroFarms have tours on Saturday mornings, so that will be a cool starting point for my research.




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