Blind Date, Real Life

On this day we got the chance to see real life in Berlin.
We walked one of the districts in Berlin called Kruezberg. It is one of the areas with the highest unemployment rate and most of the residents are of Turkish descent. Their district representative, Mr. Ozcan Mutlu, walked us through the area. He is of Turkish descent and fights for equality and civil rights for what is considered the minority population in Berlin, the Turkish. This was a real eye opener for me. After visiting with officials in parliament and the foreign office, I had the impression that poverty and discrimination were minimal but I saw the poor, the homeless people in Kruezberg today. Mr. Mutlu told us about a case of discrimination that his office fought against. Parents wanted their German children separated from the Turkish children in the classrooms and the principal granted this request. Even though the Turkish children were born in Germany but because they were Turkish, they were considered “not smart enough”. This happened recently…not ten, 20 or 30 years ago. Mr. Mutlu says he spoke out about the unconstitutionality of such a request and helped others put an end to the segregation in that school. But he told us, he was only able to because someone spoke out. He’s concerned that the same thing could be happening in other schools.
It was something I wasn’t aware of and I thank RIAS for showing us real life in Berlin, the good and not so pretty.
We also toured one of the cable news stations, N24. This is similar to our CNN. I was under the impression that all news channels were only hard core news channels. But I learned differently today. N24’s target audiences are ages 14-49. Mostly young people watch N24. Older people, 63 and above, watch ARD 1…the other newsroom we visited.
Something that I learned which was a shock…during campaigns, those who are running for elections do not pay for ads (commercials) for TV time. What! They place ads in order of who had the most votes during the last election. And finally…
Yes, I went on a blind date but my date was married with two children. Not a real date, I’m married too.
This is the one night that RIAS pairs each one of us with a person who does the same job as you in Germany. We don’t know who they are until we meet them and vice versa. My date was wonderful! Her name is Katharina Kroll, a correspondent for Hauptstadtstudio here in Berlin. She was just as kind as she was funny. And she had a sense of humor, check out the gift she gave me along with a bottle of wine…it’s an Angela Merkel juicer :). She took me to her home and I spent time with her family.
Her two friends, who are also in our field, joined us at a fab restaurant called Jolly. We talked about everything…women working, balancing working and motherhood. They were very interested in politics and the upcoming presidential elections. Katharina was surprised that I did stories everyday. She says, she gets a few days to write a piece. I was privileged to have met such warm and welcoming people. I gave her a book of some of my favorite places in Kansas City…the jazz museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. And coffee that I bought at the Kansas City store. Her son plays baseball, so I think it was a hit.
She gave me all of her attention and a girls’ night out that I will never forget. Here’s to new friends and new experiences.

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