The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Public Policy 85: Berlin

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We began our second day in Berlin by working on the group memo.  After 12+ weeks of focusing on these issues, our travel and course are sadly coming to a close.  But in addition to work, we also managed to have some fun, as we took time to explore Berlin's many historical sights and museums (in some cases with impressively elaborate travel plans to cover just about the entire city).  There was also some fleeting evidence and discussion of the delights and surprises from the prior night's outings, including an establishment owner's family heirloom treasure box, and the YMCA.

 In the afternoon, following memo work and exploration, we visited DW studios. Like Voice of America in the United States, DW is the German government-sponsored international news source.  We toured the studio with Sumi Somskanda, the senior news anchor at DW news, and her colleague Steffen, who led us throughout the DW studio and to the 8th floor roof, replete with satellite dishes and a brilliant view.  We watched Ms. Somaskanda record a live broadcast, while mostly successfully staying out of the way of the robotic cameras buzzing around the studio.  After the taping, Ms. Somaskanda generously spent time answering our questions and helping us try to understand why so many of our experts, now including Somaskanda, had connections to Rochester, NY.  We were quite lucky to have her unique perspective on a range of essential issues, including the rise of the far-right AfD party in Germany, global populist movements, the media’s role in the contemporary partially-deglobalizing and populist era, and the new pressures that this era brings for journalists.  Our visit to DW News studios with Sumi and Steffen was a perfect final official meeting for the trip.  (A few days later while waiting in the Frankfurt airport to return home, we excitedly discovered, while sitting around at the terminal consuming delicacies like McDonald's fried shrimp, that the terminal television was featuring the day's DW broadcast with Somaskanda in the same studio we had visited two days prior.)

 After leaving the studio, we headed to dinner at Café and Restaurant Zitrone.  Some members of the group, including the Professor, arrived via a 6.5 mile Lime scooter ride through a large portion of Berlin.  After two weeks of travel and Lime skill enhancement, the risk was (probably?) well worth it.  Happily, all group members arrived on time and with all limbs in the right places. 

At Zitrone we met not just the delightfully effusive restaurant owner, but Ariel Stern '05, an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, member of the Rockefeller Center's Board of Visitors, and our Berlin fixer.  Professor Stern had not only generously connected us to Sumi, and also to officials in the Bundestag, but after arriving in Berlin just the day before, Professor Stern kindly took time to meet and dine with the group.  We talked through the trip's lessons, Dartmouth and post-Dartmouth life, and students were quickly both reevaluating their own life plans and wondering how they could one day become Prof. Stern (overheard at Zitrone: "the coolest," "I want to be her.")  The meal was indeed the perfect way to conclude the trip. The gathering was enhanced by the contributions of Professor Ted Lechterman, a political theorist who kindly joined us and provided excellent career, life, and German nightlife advice, as well as some slightly embarrassing sartorial recollections from his time in graduate school with Professor Nachlis.

With great food (many German goose leg Christmas dishes were consumed), brilliant company, and lively conversation, the dinner was the perfect way to spend our final night in Berlin, and to begin wrapping up our time in Europe.

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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences