Imagine a place where creativity knows no bounds, where innovation reigns supreme, and where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Such a place exists, and I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of it at the 2023 College of Extraordinary Experiences (CEE). I went on a journey at this remarkable event where I learned, connected, danced, sang, loved, clowned and everything in between.
The bus ride from Berlin to the castle where the CEE was held was already an interesting experience and of course just the beginning. Interesting conversations were had with people from all over the world. Next to me was an immersive experience designer from Saudi Arabia, across from me was a lovely guy from Serbia and kitty-corner to me was a magician from Israel who entertained us with magic tricks. There were people from all over Europe, the Americas and elsewhere, like Kenya and Australia. I was full of anticipation for the things to come from the moment I stepped onto the bus. We arrived at the castle in Poland, a huge and stately structure as castles often are, with plenty of park space all around it. The event began with an opening ceremony that led us on a mini-journey during which we met each of the teachers through a little experience that I assume each had helped to design. It took quite some time but we were enthralled and it set the tone for the days to come.
What struck me most during this first day was the diversity of participants. From artists and scientists to entrepreneurs and educators, people from all walks of life had gathered to push the boundaries of their expertise, to learn, to create and to connect. This melting pot of talents and ideas created a generous and dynamic atmosphere, sparking countless conversations and collaborations.
Though the heart of CEE lies in its curated participants, immersive and highly interactive workshops are offered for the first 2 full days of the event. We were actively engaged in practical exercises that challenged our assumptions and stretched our creativity. Whether it was designing an abstract art piece from random objects, tracking animals in the forest or learning how to design our own funerals, the teachers were experts in their fields, generous and caring with the sharing of their knowledge.
The collaborative spirit at CEE was infectious. These interactions were not just about networking; they were about co-creating something meaningful and impactful. On the third full day, participants were encouraged to offer workshops and experiences themselves. There were so many interesting offerings that I felt virtually paralyzed with FOMO, but did manage to choose and attend a couple of very interesting workshops. People also offered experiences in the evenings, usually more artistic types of experiences. I had the privilege of being the one-person audience for a short show that was improvised just for me by a very talented actor/poet and two musicians. I also offered an experience of interactive erotic poetry and performance to which I had about twice the number of participants than I expected. That evening I was also roped into performing an improvised fire dance number, which I did gladly.
As the event neared its end, there was a palpable sense of accomplishment and transformation among the participants. We had pushed our limits, learned from one another, and experienced a unique kind of personal and professional growth. The closing evening included a departure ceremony that mirrored in reverse the arrival ceremony. This was then followed by a cabaret-type show that Frances basically created in one day and in which I performed my burlesque clown number. And then we danced, we talked, we shared...I pulled an all-nighter and then took a swim in the pool with my roomie and one of the marvelous women with whom I’d spent the night before getting on the bus to head back to Berlin.
The 2023 College of Extraordinary Experiences was a transformative journey that showcased the immense power of bringing together diverse talents and perspectives to create something extraordinary. I left the CEE with new skills, an active network of inspiring individuals, and a belief in the limitless potential of human imagination and cooperation!