My RIAS Fellowship is officially underway! I arrived in Berlin Sunday afternoon by way of Amsterdam and the afternoon walking around the city, meeting other fellow Fellows, and absorbing the liberty that comes with being outside the U.S.
Monday morning, with full-blown jet lag, I descended upon the breakfast nook at the Relexa Hotel –a magnificent edifice in East Berlin several blocks from Checkpoint Charlie– and then went sightseeing around the city, gazing at the vast and numerous monuments and relics of the city’s rich history. Berlin really is like a very active museum, artifacts littered throughout the city: chunks of the Berlin Wall can be found throughout the city, government buildings –such as the Reichstag–have been rebuilt and remodeled to reflect the the newfound, transparent ideology that emerged after the WWII and the Cold War, and memorials of tragedies and history can be found on nearly every street corner.
It’s almost as if Germans have a compulsory need to remember and atone simultaneously for their latter-day atrocities with oddly magnificent structures.
Tuesday, we met with a German journalist and Peter Altmaier, a parliamentarian, at the Ministry of the Interior. Following the interview, RIAS officials hired and a German/ Belgian camera crew to take fellows around the city and film stand-ups for stories we’re working on. We managed to film at the Eastside Gallery of the Berlin Wall and Kreuzberg, the Deutsch- equivalent to Kreuzberg.
I used the landscape to my advantage, filming a dramatic opening and closing at the Brandenburg Gate at dusk. It took a few minutes, but I nailed it eventually. Afterwards, a group of us travelled to the Staatsoper to see Salome.
Today I spent the entire day in the Bundestag, talking with German parliamentarian from four of the five German political parties who basically gave us the abridged-version of what their specific party stands for. After about four hours of lecture, we went to the roof of the Reichstag and checked out the dome.