A short walk through history

A short walk through history

Nearly every minute of my walk to the grocery store I encounter a reminder of Germany’s dark past.

Not long after I leave my home, I pass these three “Stolpersteines” (German for stumbling stones) memorializing a family deported to separate concentration camps under the Nazi regime.

For the past 20 years, artist Gunter Demnig has crafted and placed these small memorials outside the last known address for victims of the Nazis reign.

Continue reading “A short walk through history”

Seven weeks until the German Elections!

Seven weeks until the German Elections!

Willkommen von Deutschland! So, it’s been a little harder to keep up with this blog than I anticipated — as well as with what is happening politically in the United States. Seems I wake up every morning to a dozen push alerts and messages from friends. (Though, I’m glad I might have health insurance when I return home! It was weird to watch that vote over breakfast.)

Plus, I’m in language school eight hours a day. Which is fun… but… a lot.

I want this blog to be a “value add” so I think I’m going to just post here when I see something that I think might be of interest. That said — the German Parliamentary Election (or Bundeswahl 2017) season officially kicked off this weekend and I thought people might enjoy hearing how quaint it is. It lasts seven weeks.

Yes. Seven weeks.

Over the weekend, campaign posters popped up around Germany and in my neighborhood.

They’re so… tame…. and issue-focused.

Continue reading “Seven weeks until the German Elections!”

PPDB von Germany: The G20

PPDB von Germany: The G20

Hello from Deutschland! The G20 summit is happening today and tomorrow in Hamburg and I happen to have just arrived in Berlin, Germany. Between the jet lag and getting settled into my new place, it’s been kind of a hectic week.

I will be here for the next year as I am a 2017-2018 Bosch Fellow. Each year, the Robert Bosch Stiftung (a private European foundation) selects 15-16 mid-career Americans to bring to Germany to learn more about the transatlantic relationship between the U.S. and Germany. I’ll be here for the next year studying German, learning about German government and institutions, and helping strengthen ties between the U.S. and Germany. (If you know someone who might be interested in this sort of program — please pass along the link to the application process! Next year’s application closes in November.)

It’s a heck of a time to be here! I hadn’t even get off the plane when a German let me know her thoughts on the current administration. “I’ve lost respect for America,” she said.

I guess that bluntness cultural difference is accurate.

However, I’ve also been encouraged by how much I have heard from Germans and those connected to the German government in regards to learning more about Middle America. (I hope I’m a good ambassador for flyover country over the next year!) Continue reading “PPDB von Germany: The G20”

Remembering our neighborhood

Remembering our neighborhood

After the Manchester attacks, like after so many of the other tragic incidents of domestic and international terrorism lately, the Mr. Rogers quote about looking for the helpers started circulating across social media.

Not long after, this tweetstorm surfaced from journalist and author Anthony Breznican about meeting Fred Rogers during a particularly sad time in his life. You should read the entire tweetstorm here, but grab some Kleenex first.

Continue reading “Remembering our neighborhood”

Paris Agreement: Changing what we can

Paris Agreement: Changing what we can

As I’ve aged, I’ve really started to love hiking. There’s something about wandering through nature with a friend, cut off from technology and surrounded by all of Mother Nature’s glory that just centers you.

It seems fitting that a year ago today I was spending a carefree June day hiking to the Kjenndal Glacier in Norway. I can still feel the crisp air that surrounded me as the sun shone in such a way that every drop of water and blade of grass seemed in technicolor.

Continue reading “Paris Agreement: Changing what we can”

Health care is not a free market

Health care is not a free market

A few years ago, I ran the Marine Corp Marathon. It was not a brag-worthy performance, but I finished and that’s all I really have to say about it. I’ve checked it off the bucket list and I’ll probably never go that long of a distance without the assistance of a car ever again.

In the weeks after, I developed a pain in my hip. I went to my primary care doctor who couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Concerned I could have torn something, the doctor referred me to a specialist who recommended an MRI.

I had a terrible insurance plan with a ridiculously high deductible compared to my salary. When I called to make the appointment, the receptionist told me I would need to have the payment for the MRI at the time of service.

“How much will that cost?” I asked.

“We don’t know,” she replied.

Continue reading “Health care is not a free market”

Ad Astra Per Aspera: Why the Democrats need Kansas

Ad Astra Per Aspera: Why the Democrats need Kansas

Kansas’s state motto, Ad Astra per Aspera, is one of my favorites. The Latin translation “to the stars through difficulty” reflects the history of my home state while also accurately describing the people I know back home. Kansans are not afraid of hard work and fighting adversity to achieve their goals.

National publications keep interviewing Trump voters, trying to understand why they would vote against their own interest and they’re missing the bigger story. This is the story I see brewing in the Heartland: The people who normally are not involved in politics, are now energized. I’ve seen friends (both moderate Republicans and Democrats) form PACs, canvas for the first time, and in many cases, consider running for office.

Maybe after the near-win in the Kansas 4th Congressional District special election last night, they’ll take notice.

Continue reading “Ad Astra Per Aspera: Why the Democrats need Kansas”