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Fulbrighters Reflect on their Exchange Year

In this video produced by the German Fulbright Alumni Association in 2014 former German and US grantees talk about the relevance of their exchange experience and their reasons to get involved with the Alumni Association. 

The video captures the importance of the Fulbright program quite well. Authentic, personal, no exaggerations. After watching it, you will probably want to get in touch with the German Fulbright Alumni Association or learn how to get a Fulbright grant: For Germans going to US, for Americans going to Germany, for all other nationalities and destinations

The last link takes you to the State Department and promotes the Fulbright Program as "the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. (...) Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide." Most programs with rich countries are financed jointly. The German-American Fulbright program has received 2.6 Mio EUR from the State Department and US Host Institutions, but the much larger amount of 5.6 Mio EUR from Germany's federal and regional governments in 2013/2014. 332 Americans and 408 Germans received grants in that academic year.

The American Fulbright Alumni Association has just released this promotional video:

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Atlantic Review Receives the Fulbright Association's Mulert Award

Many organizations give awards to prominent people, who have already received dozens in the past. Sometimes it seems the purpose is not to honor the recipient of the award, but to use his or her fame to shine a light on the organization that is bestowing the award. Many also combine the awards ceremony with a fundraising dinner.

Not so the German Fulbright Alumni Association, which awarded the Mulert Award on Mutual Understanding 2015 to this blog. I will keep you post regarding the project that I will implement. 

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An Anthem for NATO

The NATO Foreign Ministers have met in Antalya, Turkey, instead of Brussels. Various public diplomacy activities were organized as well. I think this is great, as Turkey is at a NATO “front-line” and has also been drifting away from the West as the AKP policies and public opinion polls by the German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Trends have shown in recent years. Thus, any policy or gesture to reverse the trend is welcome.

What has been going viral from the meeting, however, is something else. A video of senior leaders singing “We are the World,” often with critical comments:

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Britain and the World Love Germany

What a pleasant surprise! Germany is more widely seen as "having a mainly positive influence" in the world than any other country, according to the BBC World Service's Country Ratings Poll. I doubt, however, whether poll participants really meant Germany's foreign policy.

A three-point increase in Germany's average rating returned it to the top of the BBC list, displacing Japan, which saw its positive ratings drop from 58% to 51%, and fell from first to fourth place overall. (...)

In Spain, the recipient of a bailout with tight German strings attached, 68% said they felt Germany had "a mainly positive influence in the world".

In Britain, it was even higher at 78%. In France 81% - the poll indicates that four in every five French people look over the border with approval!

Only Greece maintains its Germanophobia, with 52% giving a negative rating.

Will the poll matter? It might well. It may confirm German ministers in their belief that tough love is true friendship.

Re the last sentence: I doubt that people consider tough love in the euro-crisis as a true friendship.

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Best Music Videos for the US Elections

I have tuned out of the Republican presidential debates. Too much pandering, too much silly campaign rhetoric. I wrote about their statements on Europe, for instance in Gingrich, Romney rely on Eurobashing to "define their America" and "Europe" is a Dirty Word in the United States. I do, however, tune into official and unoffical campaign music videos.

Here are my three favorites so far in this election cycle: The best music video for a presidential candidate (Rick Santorum), the best video against a presidential candidate (Newt Gingrich), and the most bizarre one from a (former) candidate (Herman Cain).

1. While I don't agree with Rick Santorum's political views, I consider this the best music video for a presidential candidate. It helps me to better understand why so many Americans like him and why his campaign is so successful at the moment. The music video "Game On" by the band First Love, praises Rick Santorum's stands on faith, abortion, and manufacturing:

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Johnny Cash: 80th Birthday

The Man in Black was born 80 years ago today. From About: "In 1950, Johnny Cash was stationed in Landsberg, Germany as a radio operator with the U.S. Air Force. While in Germany, his hearing was permanently damaged by a German girl who had playfully stuck a pencil in his left ear. But it was also in Germany that Cash bought his first guitar and put together his first band, the Landsberg Barbarians."

Below is a video of his performance at Wetten Dass 30 years ago. 

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"What Germans Don't Understand About America"

On Wednesday, January 25 at 7 PM (German time, which means 1:00 PM EST), US Ambassador to Germany Philip D. Murphy will deliver a keynote speech at the American Academy in Berlin entitled "What Germans Don't Understand About America."

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Germany is the New Bad Boy

I am quite excited that Germany participates in the Eurovision Song Contest with an original, charming and funny artist, who can actually sing and is a bit crazy and therefore represents the new Germany very well. Lena Meyer-Landrut will perform the song Satellite at the Eurovision Song Contest, which was written by an American-Danish duo.

Although for the first time in years, Germany deserves "douze points," I don't think Lena Meyer-Landrut will get them from the other European countries. Animosities against Germany are too strong. Most Europeans have stronger emotional ties to other countries.

And Germany's current economic and fiscal policies make us the new bad boy. The NY Times writes "Germany Begins to Shed Its Role as E.U. Integrator":

Resisting a bailout for Greece, digging in over economic policy and opposing parts of a strategy for Europe's growth, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will arrive Thursday at a European Union summit meeting ready to play an unfamiliar role: the bloc's naysayer. Once the invisible glue that bound the Union, German policy is now being dictated by less idealistic priorities rooted firmly by national interests.

I guess, we act now like a "normal" country. Well, so be it!

Germany's previously strong monetary and political support for EU integration did not make us popular enough to win the Eurovision Song Contest either. It just paved the way for German unification, but we got that now and have to focus on bigger national interests, like the Eurovision Song Contest and the Soccer World Cup.

My statements to the Russian English language TV station Russia Today probably cost us a few votes from Greek's Eurovision Song Contest community as well. The 10 minutes live interview took place last Friday. The video clip is from a weekly round-up and mentions just a few short statements of mine: