I arrived in Germany unsure of what to expect. In hindsight, I obviously had certain ideas formulated in my head, but this was quick to change!
Many people see Germany as being a highly rigid, sophisticated, timely, almost cold society. Where individuals are driven only to produce and succeed in their respective area of influence. Or at least in hindsight, this was my understanding of many people’s stereotypical views. Obviously, my idea of what the German stereotype was is not completely negative, and there is much that could be said about the progress and success that they have achieved as a nation. Perhaps it was too easy to compare these apparent ideals with my own, and see their capacity to influence a person's ability to relax, have fun, slow one's pace and enjoy life a bit more.
My biased views of almost all places are very quick to disappear nearly each time I travel, and I can't help but enjoy how there is always this commonality in human beings all over the world, despite the influence of culture, religion or ethnicity. Often I was asked by the German friends I made, what I thought of Germany and its people. Interestingly, it seemed almost every time I answered positively it was as if they were expecting the opposite.
We all have the need to be loved and to live a life knowing we belong to a community of people that share life with us. During my time in Germany, I had the privilege to share many experiences with German friends, as well as others who have only recently arrived across the border. It was so special to be reminded that when people come together with an honesty and eagerness to love, to learn and to share life, that together we have the power to not only deeply impact the lives of others, but also enrich our own personal lives.
I was able to meet many refugees, volunteers and organisations alike that give their time and energy to help within the current refugee situations. My highlight in Germany was to spend some time with a local church group that organised a week of serving refugees, organising various activities for kids and adults! There was laughter, tears, sports, movies, dancing, cultural foods and strong relationships formed across the many cultures gathered in one building.
It is truly special to experience unity amongst diversity.
It’s easy to think that if we look at surface level at a society that it does not look all to glorious, but when you give yourself a bit of time to reach deeper into individual’s lives, to love people despite their mistakes, you will be surprised by a whole new canvass that is revealed.
I can’t wait to share some of the images I created doing my time with both the refugees and volunteers, but it is maybe fitting to only tell those stories once I have completed my travels and can let my images tell an honest story of my experiences.
In the meantime I am happy to share my images of my time exploring Germany’s streets, enjoying the subtle joys, ironies, and stories that unfolded as I attempted to identify with what it means to be German. For without the countless hours I spent walking the streets of Germany, my findings altogether would be pretty meaningless.
Follow the link below to view my images of Germany: