A Day in the Life of the #FemGeniusesinBerlin by Barbara Bilić and Gabby Rogan

Barbara Bilić and Friend

On the concluding day of our first week in Berlin, we attended a class discussion at the Friedrichshein-Kreuzberg (FHXB) Museum near Kotti (Kottbusser Tor), one of the places in Berlin where I have spent the most time. On the way to class, I was looking at the beautiful, early summer landscape, thinking about Kotti and how many memories it holds for me. During my previous study abroad program, I spent endless hours in Café Kotti, a local writers’ cafe, decorated with my friend Wafa’s art (@waemaharte), beautiful vintage chairs, and bitter Turkish coffee. That led me to think of Gastarbeiters (Guest workers) in Berlin and about their “hidden” position in German society.  The discussion during this session centered mostly on dissecting frameworks of analysis that we are applying to the class in the context of the readings on “hidden” narratives, spaces, and identities. Our focus laid on reflecting on the Jewish History Walking Tour we attended the day before. Although reading the class material was incredibly informative to me, when other students brought up their observations and questions, I gained so much more clarity and insight into topics I am not familiar with given my usual academic setting. The discussion during this class infused me with so much gratitude to be surrounded by such inquisitive individuals who are truly passionate about the course material. I also felt gratitude for having received an opportunity to discover these topics in Berlin and for insight into topics related to intersectionality in Germany that I haven’t yet focused on as part of my courses in German Studies. Although I know quite a bit about this city, every day with the @FemGeniuses brings me a new perspective of it, especially when it comes to learning about different frameworks to apply to analyze experiences of marginalized communities in Germany and Berlin.

Barbara Bilić is a rising senior at Colorado College. She comes from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a small but beautiful country in Southeastern Europe also known as the Balkans. She is double majoring in Integrative Design and Architecture and German Studies. She grew up in Prozor-Rama and received a scholarship in 2018 to attend United World College (UWC) in Mostar. In Mostar, she completed the International Baccalaureate Program, which led her to obtain a Davis UWC scholarship to Colorado College. Some of her hobbies and interests include design, poetry, music, and fashion.  

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Gabby Rogan

Hi all, this is my action-packed Friday in Berlin! Before going to class, Barbara, Ella, Kaléa, and I walked to the café|deli next door to our apartment for breakfast and coffee—I highly recommend their sandwiches. We then took the U to our classroom; today, our class was held on the top floor of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum (the museum of a historical district in Berlin), which was a nice change of scenery! The graffiti and architecture in this area was very colorful, really bringing the neighborhood to life. During class, we discussed our readings and experiences with Thursday’s Jewish History walking tour and the German Resistance Memorial, focusing on how that all connects with Black Feminist, Transnational Feminist, and Critical Race Theory frameworks. One of the main things we talked about is the purpose of memorials, their intended audience, and who they exist for. Although memorials serve as a ritual space for commemorating victims, learning the history behind who built the memorial and when it was built may also suggest that an additional purpose is to absolve guilt. After these important conversations, I got lunch at a restaurant across the street and ordered a curry bowl (unfortunately not pictured). After lunch, it was time to prepare for the SZA concert! Our apartment made food, snacks, and got to hang out for a while beforehand, which was so much fun. Jordan, Kaléa, Emma, Atquetzali, Ella, and I all took the train together, and went our separate ways when we got to the venue (we had different seats). SZA was nothing short of transcendental: her vocals, choreography, and visuals were unbelievable—it was over before I knew it. After this, the group reconvened to go back to the apartment. What an amazing day!

Gabby Rogan is from Evanston, Illinois, and is currently majoring in History and Political Science with a minor in Education at Colorado College. In her free time, Gabby works for after-school programs at Colorado Springs elementary schools, sings with her femme plus a cappella group, and is a board member of the R.O.S.E. Foundation—a nonprofit that aims to uplift school staff in the United States. Eventually, Gabby wants to work in education policy to help create more equitable experiences for students across the globe.

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