Last week, the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange participants met in Berlin for our End of Year Seminar. We spent our five days exploring the city, touring the Reichstag, and preparing for reentry into our lives in the United States. Though our time in Berlin wasn’t long, I fell in love with the city and gained a deeper understanding of the work my cohort has been doing as citizen diplomats over the past ten months.
Our first day in the city was spent at the Reichstag. We had the opportunity to sit in on a session in the Plenarsaal, which was a dream come true for me. Afterwards, we met with various parliamentary representatives. I was able to hear Cansel Kiziltepe of the SPD speak, and had the chance to ask her some of my questions about European politics and identity. I also met with my representative, Michael Brandt of Fulda. He very kindly gave me a tour of the Bundestag, and it was an honor to speak with him about his work as a politician, as well as his personal connection to my district.
I was especially starstruck when we were welcomed to the Bundestag by the Bundestagspräsidentin herself, Bärbel Bas. (I also passed by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in the hallway, which I could hardly believe). I can be a politics nerd, and it was so special to see and interact with the individuals whom I have been learning about for so long. I am so grateful to the Abgeordneten for taking time out of their schedules to meet with us. Our day with the Bundestag was unforgettable, and I am confident that it will influence my life going forward.
The next day, we were given some free time to explore Berlin. I saw many of Berlin’s famous landmarks, including the Siegessäule, the East Side Gallery, and the Brandenburger Tor. A couple of friends and I went to see the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum together, which was impressive. We also took advantage of the wide variety of meal offerings in Berlin and went out for tacos and vegan ice cream.
Berlin is a special city. Though my time there was brief, I felt as though I was at the center of the world. I felt so at home with the artsy vibe that areas of Berlin have, and immediately started researching Berlin-specific study abroad opportunities with my university. Though I can’t say when exactly I will return, I can highly recommend a visit to Berlin – perhaps this is cheesy, but she is a city that makes you feel like anything is possible.