Imagine you’re visiting a city where you’ve never been before, and you ticked off the main tourist hotspots. Where should you go next to get a better feel for the new place, and explore some less-known sides? The answer is as obvious as it is simple: Ask a local, or even better, ask a local JCI chapter. They allow you to get more of an in depth view on places you visit, and you get to experience places, sights, and activities that you’d never thought of doing. Hence, given that Berlin has been on my list of go-to places for a while, signing up to the JCI event ‘Beat of Berlin’ was a no-brainer, that would allow me to finally discover the German capital from up close.
‘Beat of Berlin’ is an annual event organised by JCI Berlin. It is designed to showcase the great city of Berlin with its diversity and characteristics. Each year there’s a different theme. This year the theme was ‘two stories, one future’, as it’s been 30 years since the fall of the Wall. And thus the program promised us to show both the East and the West of the city.
So on a lovely Saturday morning, after being divided into teams for an ongoing background challenge, we found ourselves in former East Berlin, at the site of a former soviet and stasi prison. For me this was the most impactful part of the visit. Seeing both the inhumane living conditions of the soviet prison (cells without any sunlight, showers, …), and the psychological torture of loneliness that the paranoid DDR unleashed on its citizens highlights the horrible things people can do upon each other. It’s also a reminder that we should the lessons from the past in mind, while being aware that things can and do change for the better.
After the heaviness of the morning, the afternoon was going to be more active and light-hearted. We were going to leave an impression on the remains of the wall ourselves. And what better way is there to do this than using graffiti, Berlin’s most present form of urban art. This was a fun way to cooperate with our fellow attendees, and see an idea transformed into reality. It’s also much harder than it looks. And we were only doing ‘simple’ letters, rather than an intricate picture.
Apart from educational parts, there was also room for more classic entertainment. We got to meet the JCI Berlin members on their annual summer party, and hear what they love about their city. And to finish we had a lovely farewell brunch in a converted sports hall, after which we told each other goodbye, and returned home with new impressions and great memories.Tags: Berlin, international, networking, social
This post was written by cambridge