Auf Wiedersehen

Berlin mourns during the day and celebrates at night. Much of the city was destroyed during the war and what's standing reminds us of our potential for atrocity. Some is new like the Holocaust sculpture at Alexanderplatz or the Jewish Museum. Some is old like the Wall. Some has survived through the ages like the Brandenburg Gate.

It's impossible to walk through the city without thinking of ghosts. Then night arrives and shrouds them. Neon lights illuminate corners and windows. The street corners come alive and the pulse of the city begins at 120 BPM. It's an amazing transformation from solemnity to revelry and a welcome change after carrying the weight of years all day.

Each city I've visited on this trip has its flavor of this scenario but Leipzig and Berlin have the unique distinction of highlighting the past to prevent any repetition in the future. It's not just German culture, it's law.

Tonight is my last night in Berlin and the last night of the Fellowship. It's been one of the richest experiences of my life. I'm in the city where East reunited with West and as I think back over the challenges I've become exposed to over the last three and a half weeks it's the most appropriate place to end. Division still exists, it's just moved further East. The Balkan states and Turkey are still struggling for acceptance in the rest of Europe. Extreme right-wing politicos crying out for nationalism are beginning to gain followers. Relationships between the U.S. and European countries are strained but not sour.

What is there to say that much more experienced people have not? I'm a designer, not a politician or even a fan of them. I've met passionate people in beautiful cities. They all want a good life like we do in America. But they are different. They have cultural scars from centuries of ethnic fighting, foreign occupation, and mass extermination. I can't understand this but I can accept it. I know why Europeans are against military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. I know why they believe the State needs to care for its people. I know why people commit themselves so fully to their passions. And I know why they like to dance.

I'm going to keep posting more photos and stories over the next months. Check back every couple of weeks to see what's new. Maybe you can help me figure out how to use all this great experience for good.