Luke Blakeslee '11: Today, our second-to-last day of touring, we spent exploring the diversity of Berlin. Unbeknownst to many, Berlin is a highly diversified international hub. The city underwent great diversification after World War II, when a national guest workers program invited laborers from other European countries, especially Turkey, to help rebuild the country after the War. The original program called for skilled male workers to come, work, and leave within three years. However, the men often settled in and made Germany their permanent home, immigrating their families up to join them. Today more than 2 million Turks live in Berlin, making up the largest non-German group in the city.
A large portion of the city's diversity is concentrated in Kreuzberg, a borough in the very center of Berlin. The giant Turkish population lives and works primarily here. Many of the people in Kreuzberg speak only Turkish, making communication for us an interesting experience. Fortunately for us, we were joined by a native Berliner and friend of Dr. Tucker, who gave us a personal tour of Kreuzberg. She navigated us through the busy streets directly to the Kreuzberg Museum. There we learned the history of Turkish migration to Germany. In visiting their community and culture we were able to enjoy an outdoor market and authentic Turkish restaurant. Our meal at the restaurant consisted of a wide array of different kabobs, spices, and breads, finished off with a Turkish dessert tea.
Kreuzberg is an interesting part of the city for another reason, too. Being on the far eastern side of the former West Berlin, it was a border town edged by the Berlin Wall. In the Kreuzberg Museum we also were able to see how the borough had changed since the era of the Cold War. Before and after photos revealed how the once harsh confrontation zone between East and West had changed into a bustling city center.
We left the borough footsore and belly-full, but excited by the day's new cultural experience. The trip's second-to-last tour was a top-notch day.
-Luke Blakeslee '11
Pictures: Top - Group shot in front of the Kreuzburg Museum, Bottom - Turkish market.