Day 1 - Welcome to Berlin!
Upon arrival in Berlin, on day 1, our entire group of youth participants and partners - Nyt Europa, European Civic Forum, Institute of Public Affairs and MitOst - met and introduced ourselves to one another. The focus of the day was narratives, storytelling and the history of Berlin around 1989.
Starting off at Clärchens Ballhaus - an old building in Berlin Mitte, which has been preserved and now functions as restaurant, ballroom and cultural spot – the participants shared their personal motivations and aspirations for participating in History of Optimism.
Next, we walked to the nearby Lawrence – an Arabic socioeconomic café - for a workshop on historical narratives and storytelling. Leading the workshop was Katharina Krüger, a German woman who grew up on the East side in the tumultuous years before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She started the session with a presentation of her personal experience of growing up in the GDR in the 80’s and how this shaped her sense of self and of the world she lived in. During the workshop, participants discussed the impact of living in and experiencing historical periods and settings – for individuals’ and groups’ identity, sense of belonging, outlooks, worldviews and expectations in life.
The programme of the day was wrapped up with a tour of the East Side Gallery where the group viewed the remnants of, perhaps, the most tangible physical manifestation of the GDR and divided Germany of 1989. Here, we were joined by the ZDF, the German news media, who were curious to ask the participants about today’s European youth’s interests in 1989; a story, which is truly relevant for today’s news in times of democratic unrest and youth mobilization.