Nov 21, 2017

U.S. Journalists Participate in Berlin Capital Program

The 14 Berlin Capital Program participants and a producer at Leipzig University's radio station just outside one of the studios.

A collegial and hard-working group of 14 young journalists and journalism students completed the Berlin Capital Program last week. The group listened intently to and engaged vigorously with the numerous speakers they encountered during the ambitious, weeklong seminar, peppering their interlocutors with questions that revealed serious preparation, genuine curiosity, and journalistic acuity.

The week took participants from the bowels of the Stasi archives, where they pondered the role of privacy in German society, to the glass dome of the Reichstag, where transparency in modern German government is represented in the very structure it inhabits. A day trip to Leipzig included an up-to-the-moment update by a Member of Parliament representing Saxony about the then still ongoing "pre-coalition talks" taking place in Berlin during the program, and the overall view from the eastern side of Germany as the country tries to find common ground on issues like immigration and its place in Europe.

Berlin Capital Program participants began the week with a tour of the Reichstag, where they viewed inscriptions left by Soviet soldiers following the defeat of Germany in WWII.

A walking tour through Berlin's Kreuzberg district provided a more western angle of Germany from an urban planning and public policy perspective, tracing Berlin's constant struggle to grow and attract business while maintaining its unique identity and a strong sense of community. The program even included the Maxim Gorki Theater's avant-garde production of Get Deutsch of Die Tryin', which explored modern-day immigrant integration into Germany with a look back at earlier Turkish waves of immigration - and whose young and enthusiastic audience took our journalists by surprise.

What made the program truly successful was the group's immediate and gracious acceptance of each other as colleagues and adventurers on a journey to better understand Germany today. There was a simultaneous independence and solidarity that allowed them to both pursue individual interests and stick together through a dense week of both intellectual and physical movement.

Congratulations to this year's Berlin Capital Program journalists, whom we now welcome in our Fulbright alumni family.

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