Today was our first full (awake) day in Germany. The first things on the agenda was going to local high school and meeting with local students. It was incredibly interesting chatting with the 10th and 11th grade students.
The first group greeted us with home made treats and questions about life and culture in America. A group of younger students came in to sing to us “God Bless America.”
The second group of German high school students, who are studying geography in English, where the “intellectual group” asking us about very serious topics such as climate change, Guantanamo, economics, tobacco regulations and nuclear disarmament. It left some in our group of political professionals, some of who are experts on these subjects, speechless with the heavy questions.
The thing that left the biggest impression on me was a young man in the second group who asked me if it was true that in America we can do anything. He shared storied of things he had heard of being a no body and later becoming president. He didn’t feel that in Germany he had the same opportunity. (boy in red)
At that moment I felt even more proud to be an American. I encouraged him that in Germany anything was possible… and I secretly thanked my parents for having me in America.
Later that day we met with local elected officials of Lubeck city council. The city legislature is composed of more then 60 representatives. I learned that in Germany’s 80 million people only about 1.8 million are members of a political party. (In Germany you have to pay dues to officially be part of one of Germany six plus political parties.)
We later met with members of the foundation to learn more of the work of the group.
We took a break in the day of political education to learn more about Germany’s history during World War II and visited a church bombed during the war, St. Peter’s. We visited the top of the rebuilt tower and enjoyed the view of all of Lubeck. We had some free time and explored the ancient city.
Joined by some of my new friends we explored the city including the Marzipan store. For those of you unfortunate enough to never have tried marzipan it is almond paste deliciousness covered by a layer of cholcalte. There are many variations to the German tradition and all could be found in Niederegger, world famous marzipan maker. The flagship store is located in the heart of Lubeck. The store also houses a marzipan meuseum.
At the museum several life size statues were created out of marzipan some weighing as much as 500 pounds each.
We later went on a tour of city hall and visited the former court house. Filled with history, ancient paintings and incredible carpentry the head of the city council shared with us traditional food (marzipan).
This is Lubeck’s court house with its amazing beautiful paintings (below). An interesting historical factoid are the doors to the chamber. One short and and one tall. The smaller door was for the use of the guilty who had to take off thier hat in shame to walk out of the door. Those who were victorious walked out the tall door, with their hat on. I am pictured standing in the doorway of the tall door.
The night was topped off with dinner at the oldest restaurant in town. By far this dinner was the best, most in depth conversation I have had on German culture and history. We talked about the lack of political activism, the party system and the role German guilt had on the apathy of the people. A true conversation that helped me better understand a foreign system and a intricate political structure.