Young Journalists Learn through German Fulbright Program - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Young Journalists Learn through German Fulbright Program

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You can see the German capital city of Berlin by bus tour, by bicycle, by walking, or even by hot air balloon; but thanks to the German Fulbright Commission, 15 young American journalists saw Berlin in a whole new way.

Reporter Emily Welsh was humbled to be one of them, and from the moment the plane landed in Germany, the group embarked on a week of cultural and intellectual discovery, living history and professional networking.

"Exchange provides the opportunity to learn about other cultures, first-hand and personally," said Dr. Rolf Hoffmann, Executive Director of the German Fulbright Commission. "It's not learning from the Internet, it's not just learning other languages at home, it's learning about different people and how they think how they behave."

Germany gives scholarships to 350 recipients annually, for programs of varying lengths from a week to a year, to promote international understanding and cooperation.

"Understanding other cultures is a prerequisite for peace and understanding," said Hoffmann, "it's a tool that we need to build bridges to establish dialogue."

Berlin is one of Europe more modern looking cities, but throughout its winding streets, old tradition peered through the new architecture.

The travelers didn't have too much time for bratwurst and strudel though; their days were packed with sessions, with everyone from members of Parliament, to German media outlets, like at the ARD, one of Germany's largest television networks.

Listening to both sides brought to light a nation whose past is intertwined with its present, and continues to shape public perception today.

Discussion topics expanded to current national issues, like diversity and immigration. The journalists met with German students of various backgrounds to share experiences.

"We had the chance to sit down and talk with a Turkish, a Kurdish, and Egyptian and a  Palestinian German," said program participant Katherine Cheney, who has worked for publications like Politico and Al Monitor.

"You get to see the way that Americans and people in your country are actually perceived by others," said Michele Aweeky, a program participant who works for Nick News in NYC.

Although the main purpose was for participants to expand their world view and immerse themselves in European culture, just learning about each others' careers and backgrounds was equally as stimulating.

It was for participant and TV news veteran Crystal Hilliard. "To see other young professionals operating at such a high capacity, it's inspired me to go back home and do even better things," she said.

After seven days it was already time to say "auf Wiedersehen" to the millennium city, but the contacts and the experiences will have lasting impact.

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