Are you curious? Here is the link to a reading example of Reflections of the Other: Being Black in Germany
Before I arrived in Tübingen I knew what my teaching schedule would be. I had proposed to the Council on International Exchange Commission to research the political momentum of Afro Germans. The only Afro German I met was Tina Bach, a student in one of my classes, who was the only person I saw, who looked anything like me. Berlin or Cologne would have been better venues to work on such a project. I kept good records about my experience, and trusted the writer in me to know that I would have something to write about after my years’ experience.
In the meantime I wanted to write. Writing is different when you’re away, and I couldn’t have been more away. Since Germany was in the middle of Europe, I was free to travel and see the new world I had been awarded. And Tübingen is about 30 minutes from Stuttgart, which is considered a gateway to the world by many Germans.
My host professor had telephoned me early one Friday morning, six months before I was to arrive. It was 8:00 a.m. for me and 2:00 p.m. for him. “Hallo, this is Bernd Engler, the person you’ll be working with in Germany.”
“Oh. Good morning.” Hoping I didn’t sound as sleepy as I was.
“Did I wake you?”
“No. Not at all. You see, I live alone and you’re the first person I’ve spoken to. That’s why I sound sleepy.”
He laughed. At least he had a sense of humor. All I’d been told was that Germans were orderly and arrogant. Although my old boyfriend, Helmut had been orderly, but he wasn’t at home in Germany, instead he had been in the States trying to fit into American culture.
“I am calling to introduce myself and say welcome. I also wanted to see what your needs are with regard to housing.”
“I am looking forward to being there. Thank you.” He didn’t sound German. His accent was only slight, more international. What did Germans sound like? Helmut hadn’t sounded German either, unless we got into a fight.
“After this call, we can then communicate via email.”
“That would be fine.”
“Your needs,” he said.
“I need a bathtub.”
“Sure, but that’s a main need.”
“What about a kitchen?”
“I figured there would be a kitchen.”
He laughed again. Did I have a better sense of humor than I thought? I didn’t think asking for a bathtub was such a big deal, at least not laughable.