Barack Obama and American Studies Leipzig in Berlin

After much preparation and debate, the day had finally come. In advance, German politicians as well as the German media have focused much of their attention on the visit of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, debating the potential location, the nature, and the impact of the visit and the speech. Prof. Rundquist’s “Presidential Elections” seminar group, of which I am a member, also prepared for the Obama visit, planning a class trip to Berlin to attend the much anticipated speech. After numerous e-mails trying to organize transportation and a meeting place, about twelve students meet up with Prof. Rundquist on Pariser Platz at 5 pm.


I arrived a couple of hours beforehand. Browsing through the newspaper and magazine store at Friedrichstraße, I was amazed by how intense and exhaustive the coverage of Obama’s Germany visit was. Every major newspaper and magazine, even Zitty, had a picture of Obama on the cover. From Friedrichsstraße I walked to the Adlon Hotel at Pariser Platz, where Obama stayed. And again, the sight was surprising if you consider that it was a major U.S. American politician, who visited town. The crowd, including hundreds of curious people from a number of different countries as well as the media folks, waited in the front and in the back of the hotel for Obama to show. It resembled a scence you would expect from a Madonna visit… but not the visit of a politician.


After meeting up with the seminar group, we all walked towards the Victory column. On the way, we walked by a voter registration drive. The atmosphere, as the video shows, was much like a festival, positive and electrified. And the excitement grew the closer the time of the speech came. The speech itself was much as expected, but the expectations were immensely high. World citizens, soft power, hope, and change all had their place in the speech. A few of the reactions to the speech are in the video as well. Overall, the seminar participants found it worthwhile to make the trip.


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