The Federal President of Germany flew to Boston, USA to end the partnership year between Germany and the USA “wunderbar together”. (wunderbar = marvelously)
For this occasion, he wanted to have some apprentices who had recently made experiences in the USA themselves. So, he contacted the Joachim Herz Foundation and they suggested some of their alumni, after which Simone Mayer and I were selected by the Federal Presidential Office. Unfortunately she wasn’t allowed to fly, because of an organizational issue.
The trip was simply an unique experience, incredible impressions and really interesting conversations with inspiring personalities.
We flew in the “German Air Force One”, where I also spoke to the Federal President, in his private cabin on the plane, together with three other young people from the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Program.
He and his wife were incredibly approachable, down-to-earth and were really interested in what we had to say about our impressions and experiences in the United States, how we perceived the politics and the people there, and what we, especially me as an apprentice, had to say about the dual vocational system in Germany in comparison to the USA.
We started from the military airport in Berlin Tegel, on Wednesday, afternoon with an A321 of the “Luftwaffe”. It has been a very warm and hearty welcomeby everyone, and I wasn’t really the “industrial mechanic apprentice” for the trip, but rather part of the delegation – and I was treated this way. (Although everyone introduced themselves, what job they did and also named the reason why they were part of the trip)
Even before departure I met people who are otherwise just known from the media, such as the CEO of the Otto Group or the managing director of all the world’s Goethe Institutes.
“All passengers on board – boarding completed” and “Welcome Mr. Steinmeier and Mrs. Büdenbender, delegation and all fellow passengers, we wish you a pleasant flight to Boston, next stop: Iceland Rekjavik” – this was kind of how you were welcomed on the plane.
As we took off at 17:00 in Berlin I was pushed into the comfortable leather chairs of the spacious plane.
After the refueling stop and about 8 hours flighttime, we were greeted by a “Sea of Lights – Boston” and a column of vehicles, with black tinted windows and a large police presence which escorted us to the hotel.
Arrival and night at the 5 star InterContinental Hotel were really very pleasant and impressive.
The next day was marked by a number of appointments, where I had the honor to participate. The first day began with a discussion about “Populism & Polarisation – Challenges on both sides of the Atlantic” and a subsequentvisit to the residence of Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus.
In the evening, the “Germany Year” was concluded and the “Goethe Institute Boston” was reopened. Furthermore the President has given a very good speech about the transatlantic relations between Germany and the USA, the long history that connects the two countries and that, despite all the daily “tweets and tirades”, he illustrated that he sees more unifying than separating things, so based on the motto ” wunderbar together”.
He ended his speech by saying: “So: If we still believe in the great task of democracy, we should still believe in this transatlantic partnership.” – “I do.” (“Frank-Walter Steinmeier”)
The day ended with a visit at the “Boston Symphony Orchestra” with the “Leipziger Gewandhausorchester”.
The next day didn’t leave a gap in the calendar either, it began at “Harvard Law School”, with a discussion about “ethics in digitization”, which the Federal President had also conducted for the most part, which I really had been excited about.
The next item on the agenda also was a personal highlight, when I ate lunch with Mrs. Büdenbender and the initiators of the local group “Youth Lead the Change”.
The “YLC” initiative gives young adults between the age of 12 and 22 the decision-making power of what is done with $1 million a year in the municipal budget.
This allows them to finance projects such as the renovation of playgrounds or the installation of solar cells on public buildings.
This was especially interesting for me because, because we had a subsequentconversation with Mrs. Büdenbender and her advisor to maybe initiate such a project in Germany.
After a company visit of the company “Merck Millipore” we were escorted back to the airport, from which we took off in the late afternoon. After a relaxed flight and another refueling stop in Iceland, we landed at 6:40 a.m., in Berlin, which looked still asleep in the darkness of the beginning day.
Sometimes the journey apparently seemed like a dream, felt so long and yet so short, very far away and yet so close, so unrealistic and yet so real.
There is so much I take with me from this journey, let it be it the moments, the contacts or the impressions, from a world that had been unknown to me – til then.
A big thank you to the Joachim Herz Foundation, especially to Cornélie & Yulia!
Furthermore, to the Federal Presidential Office, my training company, Krones AG, as well as my vocational school in Bad Aibling.
Greetings, Martin 🙂
PS: Some dates I shortened a little or I even left some, otherwise it would have been too much😉