The last gathering of the Burch program
After an exciting alternate tour of Berlin focusing on street art and gentrification, students were given about five free hours to explore the German capital city. Students dispersed in small groups to view the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, city center and the Tiergarten, Berlin’s largest inner-city park. After exploring the city students headed out to meet the professors for the farewell dinner reservation at 5:45, a couple S-Bahn stops away.
Professor Gangi and Radamker chose a restaurant called Ständige Vertretung, which means permanent or steady representation. Upon entering it was certain that the restaurant had an archive of history hanging on its walls. Black and white pictures of politicians, historical icons like the Berlin Wall and various photographs of political groups covered all available wall space.
As it turns out, “Permanent representation” has a significant political meaning. After WWII, and the fall of the Nazi regime, the German country was controlled by two main political sectors. The Western Allies held the western side of the country while the Soviet Union covered the eastern side. Tensions began to grow between the east and the west territories which eventually led to the cold war. Citizens on the eastern side began to flee to the west for a safer life. In response to this migration, in 1961, the Berlin Wall was constructed to officially divide the two territories. Crossing was possible only at certain checkpoints, as for instance Checkpoint Charlie, though only people from West Berlin were able to pass through to the East. These two sides did not have regular embassies, but “steady representations” in the regions of Bonn and East-Berlin. When the Berlin wall was torn down in November 9th, 1989, a bitter fight commenced between the west and east capital cities. Eventually the city of Bonn lost and Berlin became the capital of the united Germany, after which the city expanded greatly. Therefore, forty years of Bonn as a German capital was consigned to history. This is why Städige Vertretung restaurant was born! A French news agency previous wrote – “The ‘StäV’ is not an ordinary pub, but a political reading-book … The past decades’ history is brought back.”
Students were seated at two tables with the professors, Emily Gangi, and Gina Difino, the Burch program head administrator. Professor Cor Radamaker gave a heartfelt toast to the group, saying “it’s been a pleasure getting to know all of you, and I hope to keep in touch.” The menu offered various traditional German meals, like curry-wurst sausage and flammkuchen, a German style flatbread pizza. Over the delicious meal, everyone traded food and reminisced on the top memories of the seemly quick six-week program. Some best memories included the castle day, where students hiked up hills in the French country side, or watching the sunset on the beach every night in The Hague. A bittersweet atmosphere filled the room as deserts were ordered and students realized their summer adventure was coming to a close.
As the tab was paid and everyone moved outside the restaurant, the program was officially concluded. No more eight o clock program day mornings and no more train rides through the beautiful German countryside. After hugs and an official goodbye from all the professors, two students snuck up behind Dr. Gangi and started a program wide group hug in the downtown district of Berlin. There could have been no better way to end such and amazing six-weeks abroad.