“Passion. Direction. Frugality.” That’s what Team Bravo is all about. Although we made our core values in almost jest, those words actually played an immense role in our first day exploring the sites and streets of Berlin.
Despite being vague and probably cliché, “passion” kept us going. At Treptower Park, our group was evidently all-in, soaking up every drop of the experience from the reliefs, statues, symbols, and greenery. The relationship that Germany maintains with Russia even to this day truly amazes me. Of course, I’m probably a little biased, but how could a nation maintain those relationships after years of oppression in East Berlin? How can Germany see past the Soviet Union’s past with such ease? Personally, I find that motivational. I know from experience how hard it can be to let go of difficulties in relationships with other individuals, but entire nations conquering that relational obstacle? It blows me away. On a totally different side of the coin, Bravo demonstrated passion in even the smallest things throughout the day. For instance, in our strolls through Alexanderplatz, we stumbled upon mini trampolines built into the sidewalk and simply hung out with the kids playing there for a while. We let our “children at heart” sides emerge as we propelled ourselves into the air alongside the natives (and some Japanese businessmen as well–no one can resist a trampoline after a long day).
I was honestly surprised by how well our entire group handled direction throughout the day. Time and time again, we have been told, “You’re going to get lost. Don’t worry.” So, naturally, I went into the day thinking that we would be turned around quite a few times. However, Bravo navigated the streets, S-Bahn, and U-Bahn stunningly. Our direction was not only physically on track but also mentally. Our conversations in each location were more intentional and meaningful than most any typical interactions. From conversing with a native of West Berlin, who experienced the construction of the Berlin Wall as a thirteen year old, to analyzing the political and social significance of the murals along the East Side Gallery, a remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall converted into an outdoor art gallery, we learned so much both from and about each other through our differing perspectives of each site we visited. One person may have connected with one aspect of a piece of history that others may have completely missed. The ability to come together as a cohesive group to discuss these topics allowed for an incredible amount of growth in only one day. (I can only imagine how much we will learn, grow, and change in the next 24!)
Frugality–I know you’ve been waiting for what I’m going to come up with for this one. In a very literal sense, Team Bravo was financially the most frugal group of the day (mostly due to our schedule, but we like to think otherwise). We managed to complete a full day in Berlin without spending a dime–pretty impressive, right? However, money wasn’t the only thing we spent wisely; we honestly concentrated even more on time. We spent every minute with intentionality. Whether that was soaking in the progression of events in post-World War II Berlin, such as the immediate construction of memorials to honor fallen Soviet soldiers rather than the renovation of the Tiergarten or other major landmarks of the city, or discussing our perspectives of murals along the East Side Gallery and the behavior of locals around those paintings while riding the S-Bahn, each of us made sure to not take for granted any single moment we had in such a historically rich city. On a both comical and serious note, Team Bravo discovered frugality in yet another activity–draining our feet. To prevent our feet from giving out only days into the experience (notice I did not say “trip”), Bravo has draining nights following each long day to rejuvenate our feet and prepare them for yet another 13-mile day of walking.
Our first day in Berlin was certainly full of a multitude of cultural revelations. Surrounding ourselves with Soviet culture was a change, a big change, from the typical perspective of the Soviet Union that we Americans tightly grasp. Through these experiences, Team Bravo grew not only in our cultural knowledge but also in our relationships with each other, moving every day closer to that notion that maybe one day, one day soon, we will truly be a familia.