We – the employees from the office in Regensburg and the office in Pilsen – were in Bärnau, a small town in Bavaria, for three days. A lot of planning, several meetings and lectures were on the agenda here. Surprisingly, however, there were also some programme items that had nothing to do with the coming year for Tandem and promised much more fun. But let me start from the beginning.
After an initial language training session to get to know each other, the first day took place at a history park. True to its motto “Living and experiencing the Middle Ages”, we were given a guided tour of the park, where a medieval village stands. It is not only an open-air museum, but above all a museum reconstruction to depict the time period and immerse us in the world of our ancestors. So, here we learned something about medieval construction and working methods, which, of course, involved pure manual labour without electric machines. We also got to know how the population of that time lived. You could see a clear difference between the way of life of the “common man” and that of the upper class. We visited a defensive tower with an artificial moat, the unfinished house of a prince and a pigsty. Although the accommodations could not be called luxurious, they were state-of-the-art at the time. For example, the sawn boards and beams, a forge and a crane testified to their progressive nature, at least by earlier standards.
After looking at this medieval crane and listening to the theory of how everything worked, we went to work ourselves. We dragged stones, tried out or hands as stonemasons and, in the end, some of us were even allowed to operate the crane, which was more like a huge pair of pliers than the type of construction we are used to. Overall, it was emphasised again and again during the tour that everything is built and set up according to medieval standards. The only exceptions are, for example, the rope on the goods wagons or excavators for transporting quite large boulders. Because, as our guide of the leadership put it quite well: “We want to live authentically, but not die authentically”.
We not only tried out being construction workers, but also hunters. We tried to hit the black spot on a target with a bow and arrow and to throw a spear into the forest. For many, however, the emphasis remained on “tried”.
We ended the day very nicely with games, drinks and a lot of small treats in the evening.
However, it was not going to stay so relaxed. After a leisurely night at the – very nice – hotel, the day’s programme started right away. This meant that each department gave a presentation on itself, its activities and goals to us and there was time for exchange and feedback. After a while, it became very difficult for me personally to listen to and process all of the conversations and in general I had to struggle with over-stimulation, as there was a lot of new information and new faces all at once. But at least there was fruit and cakes…
The second day ended, again, with games and snacks in a nice group. At this point, I would definitely like to note once more how courteous and nice everyone from the offices was and that I was able to have a lot of great conversations.
So, Friday was the last day of the conclave to get through. This day was marked by discussions of leadership principles, farewells and discussions about the planning structure. Lunch provided a successful conclusion and we went back to Pilsen.