The final part of my project was interviewing someone who actually received a bike from Rückenwind. Strangely, this was the hardest part of reporting. All of the people that mechanics suggested we talk to wouldn’t respond. So, we went in one last time, and were lucky enough to meet a Syrian woman and her husband. They had just started working on repairing their bikes, so we stuck around and documented the entire process. The woman spoke perfect English, and was very outgoing and willing to talk with us. After she fixed her brand new bike, we found a quiet hallway and sat across from each other, knees touching, to talk about why she thought having a bike in Berlin was so important. I purposely avoided the normal questions you hear asked of refugees: Why did you leave? How did you get here? What will you do next?
I find these questions to be pitying. I wanted to know how this woman was doing in her knew home, why she liked bicycles, and let her decide what she wanted to tell me about her past. She eventually did tell me about her reasons for leaving and how she traveled to Germany, information I won’t disclose on the internet per her request. What I can say, is that I never thought I would have the opportunity to sit across from a woman, my age, who had fled from terrible living conditions and talk to her about her brand new blue bike…. (go to the website to hear more!).
The last week of the program I edited my stories. It was a long, long week. We were all tired, getting only a few hours of sleep a night, as we worked up to the deadline. It was a relief to mixdown my project and turn it over to the website crew. But, it also meant that it was time to say goodbye to Berlin. That farewell was difficult. It was such a blessing to spend three weeks exploring a complete new part of the world, not as a tourist, but as a student and a journalist. The trip helped me improve my language skills, my confidence in recording and producing audio-stories, and my ability to jump outside of my comfort zone. I’m back in Germany now for the next year and am planning on visiting Berlin, our translators, and the woman I got to interview about her bike.
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Thanks for reading! Tschüss! (Ba-bye!)