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
KulturBrauerei
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
BowlingCenter
Cinemaxx Movie Theater
Indoor Sky Diving
Jump XL Berlin
Kart World
Lasertag
Legoland
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
Tierpark
Zeiss-Gross Planetarium


Swimming

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
Deodorant
Driver’s License or State ID (eCopy and Hard Copy)
“Fancy” Clothes for Welcome or Farewell Dinner
Hair Products/Comb/Brush
Headphones
Insurance Card(s) (eCopy and Hard Copy)
Jacket
Laptop/Tablet/Charger(s)
Lotion
Nail Kit
Passport (eCopy and Hard Copy)
Q-Tips/Cotton Balls
Razors
Soap
Swim Wear/Beach Towel
Tampons/Maxi Pads/Pantiliners
Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss/Mouthwash
Umbrella/Rain Jacket/Rain Boots
Vitamins/Medication
Walking Shoes/Sneakers
Wash Cloth or Body Scrubber
Water Bottle
Writing Utensils/Notebook