Lens: Leaving Berlin, collecting ourselves

Leaving Berlin might mean losing some connection to the tangible trek between dreams, realizations, and moments of vulnerability that is our movement through years, our aging and maturation, in any sense. But it is only temporary. Indeed, collecting ourselves means leaving ourselves. But only for now... [Read More!]

Beyond Berlin: London and other transplants

This past week, I visited my good friend D who, like me, is an American transplant. D lives in East London, where the corner store owner greets you in an upbeat banter and the sign to a ‘Carolina Fried Chicken’ joint dances in the light from the neighboring gastropub. Multicultural, maybe. But London’s multiculturalism has a few faces and facades. And, in the end, it’s the people that matter more than the cultural installation: So, who is actually 'making' it here?... [Read More!]

Interview: Three Dimensions of Integration

It's easy (and admittedly amusing) to reduce expats to stereotypes, as if we all neatly fall into one or the other category based on which country we hail from, what we do for a living, or where we party and eat brunch. Reality is always more nuanced and multi-dimensional. Dare we even say, interesting?... [Read More!]

Rave: a Colombian Culinary Homecoming

What role do embassies play in the lives of foreign nationals abroad? Beyond pure administration and diplomacy, cultural events that allow for a homecoming, a return to childhood, and a bringing together of compatriots might change how immigrants and expats live abroad and the involvement of embassies and consulates therein. The Embassy of Columbia in Berlin sponsored an event that did something just like this. A few weeks ago in Neukölln, Colombians and non-Colombians united over the genius of duck woven into starch - the duck, a true Berliner... [Read More!]

Happy Weekend: Will the True Berliners Please Stand Up

English Theatre Berlin's new piece by Daniel Brunet asks the hot question, 'Who is a real Berliner?'. 'Echter Berliner!!! Ihr nicht fuck you' is a documentary theater production which addresses the curious tension between expats and immigrants, as if these categories were ever clear or even exclusive. Putting the product of 60 interviews on stage is brilliant, hanging prejudices out to dry when the last place we need them is in the camp of the outsiders... [Read More!]

Lens: Coming (home)

I'm pretty sure it was the 1st grade. We were drawing pictures of our families and I carefully wrote Mami under the lopsided stick figure cast as my mother. A kid next to me leaned over and inspected my work. "That's not how you write 'Mommy'!" he squealed. "Yes it is!" I responded fiercely, confident that this was exactly how my Mami had taught me to spell it. Our teacher overheard the bickering and swooped in for the rescue. We were both right, she explained patiently. Mami was just "Mommy" in a different language... [Read More!]

Lens: Going (away)

Human beings are mobile, in part due to the wonder of air travel, whose planes make relationship and imagination possible in spite of vast distances. Preparing to leave Berlin for my other home far away, I could not help but reflect on how mobility has changed what it means to love, to belong, to connect. Will my father’s face have aged? My mother’s mind? I turn toward the security line, into the place I am going. Umbrellas and the smell of moist newspapers, dreary winters full of long conversations near the sea... [Read More!]

Lens: Becoming Berlinerin at the Bürgeramt

Bureaucracy is there to keep the rules in check, to decide who can be a part of the stacks of paper and benefits that make up either citizenship or the ominous category of legal (or illegal) residency status. Oftentimes, the line between these two categories is arbitrary, not reflective of individuals but of rules and their guardians. This is my story in a two-part lens about how blood and ink can define who you are in a city, how, as a German citizen, a ruler was used to cleanly draw a line in my passport across my former American city of residence, replacing it with a German one... [Read More!]

Interview: Ali, Zoe, and the Gentrification Debate

Meet Ali and Zoe. You may have heard of them. Zoe takes pictures of Ali while walking down the street and posts them on her tumblr called What Ali Wore. They share a special connection, one reflective of a city in flux and a district in crisis. He, the assumed-Gastarbeiter (politically-charged term for 'guest worker') fighting against stereotypes and categorizations since arrival // she, the ex-pat fighting off armies of criticism for displacing the very people one considers a neighbor: difficult situations that have arisen not out of malice but out of circumstance, no matter the scale... [Read More!]