A Day in the Life of the #FemGeniusesinBerlin by Noor Issa and Nova Yu

Noor Issa

For my day in the life, I explored the Botanischer Garten (Botanical Gardens), the area around the Spree River, and Wedding. The images I chose and the reasons they impacted and interacted with my views of Berlin, the course, and foundational frameworks of Critical Race Theory, Transnationalism, and Intersectionality are many. First, in the image of me, I am at the Botanical Gardens Greenhouse, where I visited with my Haitian American friend. The greenhouse was split into the regions of the world that the plants where derived from. They wanted to see the Caribbean and Haitian plants, and I explored plants of North, West and East Africa, as well as the Arabian Peninsula. Whenever I get the opportunity to make myself more familiar with the nature of my home or regions near it, like the Sahara, I feel a little bit closer to being there, having grown up in the U.S. and adopting that background. As a diasporic individual, visiting my home in Libya, which can be pricey and effortful, finding these connections is important to me. That is also the reason I ate at Esra Lebanese, where there was Halal food and Arabic speaking owners. Being an outsider in Berlin and not knowing German, I went to an Arab restaurant so I could speak Arabic and experience some of the hospitality and kindness I’ve come to know from the Arab and North African community. It felt good conversing in my native tongue. Next, my image of signage and graffiti, particularly “I got 99 problems but my skin ain’t one,” “Fuck Putin, love Ukraine!” and the Muslim dating site advertisement showed me the real and “out there” presence of racial and religious minorities, and immigrants, the ways they express their presence in a place they are minoritized.

Noor Issa is a Libyan Muslim born in Northern Colorado. She loves food, her family, and exploring cultures, both her own and others. Her first language is Arabic, and she’s the eldest of four. She’s pursuing a Psychology degree, as well as a double major in Race, Ethnicity and Migration studies at Colorado College. In her free time, Noor enjoys art, music, and weightlifting. In the future, she hopes to travel and learn more about Arabic, Pan-Africanism, and Islamic Studies.

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Nova Yu

Welcome to my #DayintheLife! Wednesday, June 7th, 2023 officially marks only the 4th day I have been in Berlin, and this day began with a slightly stressful train ride, and the second day of class. In class, my peers and I discussed our experiences from the previous day of exploring the famous Neues Museum, specifically the Egyptian and Papyrus Collection. This dialogue had me holding onto the idea of critically thinking about who you are centering in conversations about colonialism, restitution, and racism in general. In the Neues Museum, it was a visceral experience to see the sheer number of profound artifacts, knowing many were taken from communities to be put on display. The background from this week’s reading material undeniably shaped my mindset for the morning walking tour of German Colonialism and my personal experience in the museum. It became a consistent balance in my mind to recognize the appropriation of identity and culture, but also take more time to appreciate, learn, and be welcoming to the beauty of the pieces. After class, I spent my time trying to learn more about Berlin, beginning with a quick trip to the thrift store with my classmates Cecelia and Elliot. Although nothing was purchased, this short adventure was my first taste of the more touristy areas of Berlin. After thrifting, I was able to go off on my own and met up with my boyfriend’s family visiting the city. We went to Café am Neuen See, a local beer garden situated in the middle of a large park and next to a pond. I then spent the entire evening there as I met up with my classmates for a joint birthday celebration. I ended the day with good drinks and even better company.

Nova Yu is a Chinese American student from Grand Junction, Colorado. She is currently going into her final year of college majoring in Economics. Nova is the daughter of two Chinese immigrants and the middle child of three. She was born in West Virginia, and at a young age, she moved to a rural town in Colorado where she has lived most of her life. This is Nova’s first time in Europe, and she believes she has picked the best first stop: Berlin!

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