The washing machine is splashing, the dryer is humming, my cell phone is charging while I type and catch up on tennis from Wimbledon and make a grocery list. You guessed it, I’m back in the United States. I’m back home in Durham, North Carolina!
Berlin, Germany seems so far away – because it is! I think I spent almost a dozen hours in the air traveling home. But the adventure was worth the new friendships, professional contacts and history lesson. This morning, my youngest son, Teemer, began looking through my luggage and through the dirty clothes bags and gift bags dumped on the living room sofa. “Is there anything for me?” Teemer asked in a very soft, cordial voice. He’s a “pack rat” like me and loves to carry his stuff with him, so when I saw this satchel with “Original Berlin 1989” plastered on the sides, I had to buy it for him. I asked, “Teemer, why do you think they chose to put 1989 on that bag?” “Is that when the Berlin Wall fell?” he asked. “GOAL!” Teemer has been reading my blog!
While waiting for clean clothes, Teemer and I grabbed for the remote to watch the World Cup! The US played Germany at noon! What a game! Remember, I am not a soccer follower, but there was no way NOT to catch “World Cup Fever” while traveling across Germany, and then to Prague, Brussels and airport pit stops in The Netherlands. I’m not mad – the US played their asses off and the final score reveals that, US – 0, Germany – 1!
I will always remember my time in Berlin and its people and culture – and now soccer! I remember a city official telling my group of RIAS Berlin Kommission German/American Exchange Journalists that one-third of Berlin’s population is new, and growing. Richard Meng, Undersecretary and Speaker of the Senate of Berlin told us, “The managers of the big companies may not come here, but their children are coming.” That’s what keeps a city vibrant and relevant.
I was told, at one time, there was an effort to tear down the Berlin Wall and get rid of its remnants and negativity. Then, someone hit the pause button. Many people realized “the wall” was history and if you erase or forget history, it could be repeated. I am a great grand-child of slaves in America and I have spent a lot of time in recent years learning about the last standing slave dwellings across the US, and efforts to preserve that history. Across Berlin, pieces of “the wall” are on display for all to see. One of the big subway stops, Potsdamer Platz, displays a piece of the history that has been decorated with a very diffent kind of graffiti – chewing gum!
I became an adult when the Berlin Wall and communism began to crumble all over the world. A few months after the fall of the wall, Nelson Mandela walked out of a South African prison, after 27 years. Shortly after that, I remember getting my first BIG media State Department credentials to cover his visit to Detroit! I have had the opportunity to visit South Africa, but not Germany, until now. I can’t imagine the celebration that is being planned for later this year marking the 25th Anniversary since the Berlin Wall fell. It’s a party I wouldn’t want to miss!