Berlin in My View: A Place where People Live Freely
Why is Berlin one of the most attractive cities in Europe and the world? How did I experience it and what is the new thing that I learned?
My visit to Berlin came about because I was chosen to be part of a program organized by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in cooperation with the Franco-German Youth Office.
I remember the moment when I headed from the airport with my group which was traveling with me from Belgrade to the hostel where we were staying. In those moments I was confused, because it wasnt how i pictured it. It wasnt traditional, pretty or really aesthetically pleasing place. What is certain is that it is a unique city on a deeper level in terms of people and culture.
Every type of person you can think of lives there. I have never visited such a racially and religiously diverse place. I had the feeling that the people I met in passing lived so freely, and enjoyed the highest level of acceptance in every sense. That fascinated me, that progressiveness and open mindedness is what distinguishes Berlin from many cities in Europe and the world.
We moved around the city on the metro, which is very well organized, and there is no possibility of getting lost if you follow the directions. What makes the process of using the metro even easier is that free wifi is available at every station.
My visit to Berlin also had another side, namely workshops with a group of young people from the Western Balkans as well as from France and Germany. The main theme of the program was “Escaping the loop of nationalism and populism”. The program was organized in such a way that for the first half of the day we had various workshops, debates, discussions as well as our mini-projects that we carried out in groups. The second part of the day was planned for research and a tour of the city, which we all made the most of to see and learn as much as possible.
On the first day of the workshop, we discussed the topic of freedom of speech. How important is she? What is its definition? What does freedom of speech really mean to us? We discussed to what extent it must be limited by law so that it does not threaten other people’s freedom of speech. What was interesting was that we had a group that believed that freedom of speech should not be restricted by law, and instead of defining it they presented us with a blank piece of paper.
On the very next day of the workshop, we had the opportunity to ask questions to politician and member of the German Bundestag, Josip Juratović. The most frequently asked questions were related to the European Union.
The visit to the Bundestag was one of the most interesting for me. The exterior of the building is Germanic and imperialistic, while the interior is modern and European. It is interesting that it was located outside the borders of Berlin behind the Brandenburg Gate, because the Kaiser hated parliamentarism and for this reason he deliberately built the parliament outside the borders of the capital to humiliate democracy and parties.
The next visit was a visit to the Stasi Museum, which I must be honest I had not heard of before the visit itself. The Stasi Museum was the state security service of East Germany that employed about 90,000 people. They turned the former secret police command into a monument to totalitarianism and a memory of a time that should never return. It is interesting that, in addition to historical data, the guide also shared his personal experience of life in the GDR, where he spent his teenage years until the fall of the wall in 1989.
I experienced the building of the Stasi Museum as huge, commanding, strict and sterile. I must admit that I felt that way, during the tour itself.
We used our free time to socialize, take long walks, enjoy beer in the most beautiful parks of Berlin. For a moment, I forgot that I was only there for a few days, I loved how that city embraced me, and my new friends filled me with good energy and new knowledge.
Participation in programs of this kind fills my soul, makes me take a step forward to grow and develop as a social being and to understand what it really means to be a humane curious young human being on the path of European values.
I am returning from Berlin full of emotions, new knowledge, and I can’t wait for the continuation of the program in the same organization, which will be held in Belgrade at the end of September, and then next year in the spring in Nice.