Some Final Thoughts on the 2019 #FemGeniusesinBerlin

Top (L to R): Matthew FitzGibbon, Bella Staal, Kelsey Mattox, Cam Kaplan, Samuel Vang, Maggie O’Brien, Avia Hailey, Nizhooni Hurd, Alexander Jobin-Leeds, and Lauren Hough; Middle (L to R): Miles Marshall, Professor Heidi R. Lewis, Cameron Bacher, Nicole Berlanga, and Eileen Huang; and Bottom (L to R): Caroline Livaditis, Maysie Poland, Mekael Daniel, Dana Maria Asbury (Course Associate), Mimi Norton de Matos, and Zivia Berkowitz

have to start by saying that the five-year anniversary of the course started out with a bang for a few reasons:

  • It’s the first time the course has been full. In fact, we exceeded the maximum enrollment limit of 16 by one student;
  • two of my students were able to secure funding to come conduct research—Judy Fisher, Feminist & Gender Studies Major ’20, 2019-2020 Triota President, 2018-2019 Shannon McGee Prize winner, and Fall 2017 #FemGeniusesinBerlin alum came to conduct transnational studies of American Indigeneity; and Mekael Daniel, Feminist & Gender Studies Major ’20 and 2019-2020 Triota Vice President came to conduct transnational studies of Blackness;
  • and we were joined by my niece-cousin-boo from Memphis, TN, Kelsey Nichole Mattox, who turned 18 and graduated from high school recently. So, her presence was especially meaningful. In fact, she had never gotten on an airplane until she traveled here, excitedly letting us know, “I decided to go all the way!”

Judy and Mekael arrived the same day I did, and we trekked to Radebeul (near Dresden) to attend the Karl May Festival so Judy could observe, think about, and examine Native American participation in predominantly white festival culture in Germany, as well as white Native American hobbyism. Imagine the raised-eyebrows of every single one of my friends and comrades in Berlin when I told the about this—haha. Judy and Mekael also went to the Great Indian Meeting at the El Dorado theme park in Templin the following weekend to continue Judy’s work. Shoutout to my colleague, Dr. Santiago Ivan Guerra (Associate Professor of Southwest Studies at Colorado College), for introducing Judy to the significance of hobbyism in Germany, illustrating the collective efforts necessary for critical theory work.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that it’s been a while since the #FemGeniusesinBerlin were so full of #BlackGirlMagic (2015 was the last time, to be exact), and I couldn’t have been more excited about that. One adorable and powerful manifestation of that was Avi(a) leading several rounds of “Deep Truth, Truth,” a game that allowed her to bond with her classmates, especially her roommates, but also with Dana and I one day during lunch. “Deep Truth, Truth” starts with someone asking another person if they’d like to share a deep truth or what one might refer to as a “regular” truth. A “regular truth” could be anything from sharing your favorite color to a song that you hate; however, a “deep truth” is usually something that one might not share in a group like this, because lots of us don’t know each other well enough to be comfortable with that kind of vulnerability. Then, once the person being questioned decides what kind of truth they want to share, the questioner asks a question. After the question is answered, the person being questioned then gets to ask another person in the group a question. I got to ask and answer twice (one truth and one deep truth), and learned a lot about the students that day. Neat stuff.

In “short,” the 2019 #FemGeniusesinBerlin were such a great bunch even though we most certainly hit a few snags along the way. Here are some (definitely not all) of the most memorable moments:

  1. The weather hitting 90F degrees, something I’m pretty sure never happened in years past, and doing so several days each week.
  2. Bella’s cube bear.
  3. Mekael, Judy, and I being photographed by a stranger (with consent) at the Karl May Festival and finding the very poorly-filtered but very cute photograph on social media (posted with consent).
  4. Lauren’s RBF and fierce modeling skills.
  5. Avia’s phone fan and ridiculous pranks.
  6. Zander playing Captain Save ‘Em, and gettin’ hollered at all along the way.
  7. Eileen’s “hey.”
  8. Nicole being almost entirely silent then shakin’ up the space with the loudest, most hilarious laugh you ever did hear.
  9. Vang asking to sit on our roof (which would most certainly result in his untimely death), asking about transporting beer back to the U.S., telling us he got “hemmed up by 12” (which turned out to mean he was approached by some ticket-checkers on the subway and allowed to continue his trip with a mere warning…side eye), telling folks about sex stores, and gettin’ hollered at for almost every single thing all along the entire way.
  10. Discussing the advantages and risks of comparative analysis.
  11. Mimi’s sneakin’ in and slam-dunking the graffiti workshop brainstorming session.
  12. Miles’ hair flips, especially because they don’t even have a lot of hair, and lessons in lipstick.
  13. Caroline “showing off” her knowledge of the German language (see below).
  14. Matt trolling the entire class almost the entire time and then agreeing to draw a troll during our graffiti workshop.
  15. DeAira Cooper, 2015 #FemGeniusesinBerlin alum, coming to visit.
  16. Dr. W. Christopher Johnson, Assistant Professor of History and the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto and husband of our Course Associate Dana Asbury, coming for a visit and joining us for a few sessions.

I could go on and on and on. I will never forget this group. Such a great summer through it all, which led to my new phrases: Must be June. Must be Berlin.

2019 FemGeniuses in Berlin Podcast Index:
Click here to view a slideshow, and follow us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see more pictures and videos!

Jewish Berlin Tour” by Nizhooni Hurd
Topography of Terror” by Zander Jobin-Leeds
Jasmin Eding” by Avia Hailey
German Colonialism Walking Tour” by Mimi Norton de Matos
Each One Teach One e.V.” by Maysie Poland
RAA Berlin” by Nicole Berlanga
RomaniPhen e.V.” by Samuel Vang
Pořajmos Walking Tour” by Cam Kaplan
Synchronicity with Sharon Dodua Otoo” by Maggie O’Brien
Rebellious Berlin Walking Tour” by Bella Staal
FHXB Museum” by Lauren Hough
The Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism” by Cameron Bacher
Queer Berlin Walking Tour” by Miles Marshall
Schwules* Museum” by Eileen Huang
Trans*sexworks” by Zivia Berkowitz
Graffiti Workshop with Berlin Massive” by Mekael Daniel
Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art” by Caroline Livaditis
Street Art and Graffiti Walking Tour” by Matt FitzGibbon

To read and/or listen to the finales and view the indices and slideshows for previous FemGeniuses in Berlin, click here

#FemGeniusesinBerlin Update

As some of you may know, I’ve been in Berlin since May 30 teaching my study abroad course FG214/RM200/GR220 Hidden Spaces, Hidden Narratives: Intersectionality Studies in Berlin. You may also know that this year my students are producing podcasts again about all of the mandatory course sessions.

However, my final thoughts post, which will include an index of the podcasts, won’t be published until Wednesday, June 26. So, in the meantime, please head over to SoundCloud and follow us there so you can keep up with the podcasts as they’re published.

You can also follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to see fun pictures and videos.

Hope to see you there! Have a great summer!

Heidi R. Lewis, Ph.D.
Director & Associate Professor
Feminist & Gender Studies
Colorado College

Things to Do in Berlin!

Arts, Culture, History, & Politics

Ballhaus Naunynstraße
Begine Intercultural Women’s Center
Berlin Dungeon
Castles and Museums
House of Democracy and Human Rights
Künstlerhaus Bethanien
Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Photography Museum
SAVVY Contemporary
SUSI Intercultural Women’s Center
Werkstatt der Kulturen
Xart Splitta
Young African Art Market (YAAM)

Festivals & Parades
*There are other festivals in the city that do not usually occur during the typical course dates.

Carnival of Cultures
Christopher Street Day Berlin PRIDE
CuTie.BIPoC Festival
Kenako Afrika Festival
Lesbian & Gay City Festival

Fun & Games

Berlin Dungeon
Berlin Kart
Blacklight Mini Golf
Cinemaxx Movie Theater
Indoor Sky Diving
Jump XL Berlin
Kart World
Mission Accepted Escape Room
MobiKart Fun Racing
Mount Mitte Rope Climbing
Skate Hall Berlin

Science & Technology

AquaDom Sea Life
Archenhold Observatory
Berlin Zoo & Aquarium
Botanical Gardens
Castles and Museums
Game Science Center
Magic Museum
Photography Museum
Spectrum Science Center
Zeiss-Gross Planetarium


Sommerbad am Insulaner (Outdoor Pool w/ Slide)
Stadtbad Lankwitz (Indoor Pool w/ Slide)
TURM ErlebnisCity (Indoor Pool w/ Slide)
Wannsee Lake & Water Sports
Wellenbad am Spreewaldplatz (Wave Pool)

NOTE: We do not include individual links to most museums and castles.

Things to Pack for Berlin!

Dinner Cruise

The 2017 #FemGeniusesinBerlin

Adapter Converter(s)
Camera/Video Recorder
Cell Phone/Charger(s)/External Battery
Driver’s License or State ID (eCopy and Hard Copy)
“Fancy” Clothes for Welcome or Farewell Dinner
Hair Products/Comb/Brush
Insurance Card(s) (eCopy and Hard Copy)
Nail Kit
Passport (eCopy and Hard Copy)
Q-Tips/Cotton Balls
Swim Wear/Beach Towel
Tampons/Maxi Pads/Pantiliners
Umbrella/Rain Jacket/Rain Boots
Walking Shoes/Sneakers
Wash Cloth or Body Scrubber
Water Bottle
Writing Utensils/Notebook


What the #FemGeniusesinBerlin Said!

Image #5

The 2018 #FemGeniusesinBerlin during a Convergence Class with Professor Rebecca Brückmann at the University of Kassel

The following comments were pulled directly from course evaluations for FG214/RM200/GR220 Hidden Spaces, Hidden Narratives: Intersectionality Studies in Berlin. If you are a Colorado College student interested in applying to enroll in the course, click here.

To read what our comrades in Berlin have written about the course, click here.


If you don’t take this course, you are really going to be missing out on a great adventure and a magnificent learning experience. Not to mention, you get to travel across the world with one of the best professors CC has to offer.

When you’re in another country, the expectation to act maturely and responsibly is even greater than when we are on campus. Be very conscious of this going into any course abroad, especially with this professor.

Really think about what you want out of this and make sure to revisit that throughout the course. You’ll be getting so much content in a short amount of time, so it helps to have a goal.

Heidi knows so many amazing people in Berlin, and you will feel so lucky to have had the chance to listen to them.

There is no room for bullshitting. Keep up and actually do the readings. Look at the questions picked for the quizzes and use them as a template for writing your questions the following week.

Image #8

The 2017 #FemGeniusesinBerlin during a walking tour about Porajmos and Sinti and Roma History & Culture in Berlin led by Sinti & Roma Youth

Very engaging way to learn about the concept of intersectionality. Relatively accessible to people who have never taken an FGS course.

Engage with the material both inside and outside of class. Discuss it with your peers and engage with it during the sessions. Don’t be intimidated by the sessions. These women are brilliant and wanting you to engage with them. The worst thing you can do is take your intimidation and shut yourself off. Ask lots of questions, too.

This course is great even if you don’t feel like you know a lot about Feminist & Gender Studies. As long as you’re willing to engage and be curious, you’ll learn so much.

It is not easy. There isn’t much work (a few quizzes, a couple blog posts), but it may be one of the toughest classes I’ve taken at CC.

This course is the most emotionally demanding course I’ve taken at CC, but it is so rewarding and crucial to the fabric of our society.

The course was exhausting, but in a very good way. The amount of important and amazing content we got to explore was something that probably no other CC course could provide.

You must have high expectations for yourself. This is not a normal class, and you must push yourself to learn and absorb information. You cannot just expect to learn what you need by just being in an environment. You must search out the answers to what you are looking for from the people and places you visit.

You need to take it. You think you know what’s going on in the world, but this class will really open your eyes.

Still have questions about the course? Click here!