Last year has probably been the most exciting one in terms of the stories I got to cover and the people I got to speak to. Here’s a list of 15 English and German pieces on love and sex and age and Berlin and trauma and refugees and so much more. Would love to hear your thoughts below. Happy reading!
How do you deal with the aftermath of war? With having witnessed bombs, death and destruction first-hand? Many soldiers and veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder when they return home. I talked to one of them, and his story really changed the way I look at the challenges soldiers face when deployed in conflict zones.
And then there’s sex slavery. Human trafficking is still carried out today on a massive scale. I portrayed the story of a girl that dreamed of a better life in Europe and ended up being enslaved and forced into sex slavery. She was rescued after 26,297 hours – the trauma and the pictures still live on with her.
This has been one of the more challenging and personal stories: I went to dance and talk with some Israelis my age in Berlin as part of the 50th anniversary of German-Israeli relations. When writing the story up (and reading the last story of We don’t forget, we go dancing), I had a major writer’s block because the whole story suddenly felt so personal – and my deadline was the next morning. Funnn!
Mein Kiez in Wedding ist ganz besonders toll. Von wegen heißes Pflaster! Bevor ich Mitte des Jahres ein paar Straßen weiter weggezogen bin, habe ich noch schnell eine Hommage an meinen Lieblingsspätijungen geschrieben, mit dem ich im Laufe der Zeit ziemlich viel Zeit verbracht habe. Ziemlich unglamourös dieses Wedding, aber von und mit Herz! Und Tütensuppe ist voll ekelhaft, Akan. Echt jetzt.
Im Frühling gab es Kopfchaos en masse. Ich floh zur Leipziger Buchmesse, um die Fragezeichen wenigstens temporär durch Konfetti zu ersetzen. Sibylle Berg, Lizzie Doron und André Herrmann et al verzückten diesen Kopf besonders. Echter Leipziger Döner tat das ebenso wie ein charmanter Bub im Bus sonntags morgens. Danke für so viele Farben im Kopf, die mich das ganze Jahr begleitet haben. 2016 komm ich unbedingt wieder zur Buchmesse, du schönes Leipzsch.
Das war vielleicht der wichtigste, vielleicht der persönlichste, und vielleicht der dringendste Text, den ich dieses Jahr geschrieben habe. Geflüchtete in Berlin, Geflüchtete in meiner Wohnung, Geflüchtete in meinem Herzen. Ein Protokoll. Den Boys geht es übrigens gerade ziemlich gut. Der eine ist schwer verknallt, der andere hat in Frankfurt einen Job gefunden, beide waren an Silvester vereint und schmissen eine kleine Sause.
I portrayed several refugees (and their most treasured belongings from home) for the DW series “My piece of hope”, and the one that stuck with me most is Farsad’s story. He was born in Iran to Afghan parents without having ever seen his home country. He has been a refugee for all his life. He genuinely doesn’t know what home means – yet manages to be so smiley and hopeful whenever I meet him.
Mountains, oh you better psychologists! What started as a week-long press trip to South Tyrol, Italy, ended in a very therapeutic adventure of hiking, cycling and eating lots of great food. This trip was perfect timing and I have been awestruck so many times (just look at the pictures, you’ll understand). I didn’t think South Tyrol was worth the hype, but it is.
Eeek, my first radio piece! Hurray. I spoke to Carlos, the self-proclaimed “naked horse” from Australia, who is busking and street performing in Berlin all year round (yes, even now at -8°C) and who gives out so much passion and energy. He told me about whether there’s a recipe for making a living out of singing on streets (there is, kinda).
Discovering the organic and vegan farm Storchenhof at the beginning of the year in Brandenburg has been one of my favourite (surprise) press trips of the year. I felt so welcome, appreciated and looked after during the weekend and can’t actually wait to visit this bunch of powerwomen in spring. Bring on yoga on a crystal blue lake!
Talking to Rahel Mann has been one of the most meaningful conversations of this year. This 78-year-old is incredibly wise, incredibly unconventional and incredibly funny. I spent an afternoon with her talking about all things love and sex advice, and turned this into a little letter for the young. If you’re based in Berlin, Rahel is talking about having survived the Holocaust on every first Monday of the month at Rathaus Schöneberg.
You know what you should do? Talk to your family about history, their way of seeing the world and what they’ve learned during their many, or not so many, decades on earth. When I chatted to my father and grandfather about patriotism, I learned more about them than I ever thought possible, and many things I always wondered about, like, why on earth can’t he imagine moving to another town, suddenly made sense. Thank you Life Links, for continually giving me the chance to push, challenge and find myself.
I had a hilarious (I had major crack-ups every two minutes!) phone interview with a Danish sexologist, Anne Marlene Henning, who also happens to be a former model, a book author and a TV host. Sexology… Best job ever, hey? Henning challenged stereotypes we have and gave a lot of very practical responses on how to spice up one’s sex life. Most important rule: Chill out and have fun. Feel stuff. Duh.
Polyamory isn’t exactly a concept that I was ever keen on trying out, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. I visited a polyamorous couple in Berlin and observed how they love, talk and think about love and society. Merci for letting me in ladies!
Famous last words. The American philosopher Susan Neiman challenges the ideas society fosters and youth and age. Do we idealize youth to the extent that our children refuse to grow up and actually take responsibility? Food for thought – and an inspiring radio piece to listen to on a quiet and rainy Sunday morning.