Ok, german word for the day: Termine = appointments.
As I said earlier, I had an appointment with Herr Ball to go see some sort of Bio-gas plant. Ok. This ended up being a private hour and tour with the head of one of the largest bio-diesel plants in Europe. I was shocked and flattered. First, we [me, Herr Ball, and I don’t remember his name], sat in a conference room where he talked about the whole process, got out props, the specific plant, the problems and advantages of bio-diesel and the future of it. He gave me some literature and then I got a private tour of the plant. It was incredible. It was hot, the machinery was fascinating, and the head of the plant [I wish I could remember his name!!] was really nice. As I walking through, I was just thinking about how lucky and privileged I have been!! And the fact that Herr Ball would go through all this trouble just to set this up! I thought that he had some other motivation with this trip, like he had to check on something or talk with someone in particular. But no, this was just for me. Just for me to learn and experience.
I thought we were done. Earlier in the week, Sylvia had mentioned something about a meeting on Thursday with the MWG. But then she said that it fell through, and was going to happen later on in July. While we were touring the bio-diesel plant, Herr Ball got a call saying that MWG wanted to take a picture of me, like now. For the MWG newsletter. For an article… featuring… me. As he was telling me this, I was kinda confused, but just went with it. So we get to the MWG headquarters and head upstairs. We end up having a meeting with the head of MWG, who was charming and would throw in random English words that he knew. It was great. He didn’t really know anything about me, and asked straight up, “Why is an American doing this project?” Haha I was like, good question. It was cool hearing Herr Ball talk/kinda brag about me, and describe how I came to find this project. After he named dropped Professor Neumann, it was crazy. The head of MWG immediately seemed to approve of me. So apparently Professor Neumann is kinda a big deal around here. I got the basic history of MWG and we talked about the difference between now and the DDR [typical]. He had to leave a few times and when he was gone, Herr Ball would crack jokes about him, saying he thought he was such a big-wig. Haha I was loving it. All this time I sitting here like… ok, once again, we are at a meeting, completely focused on… me. His secretary brought in water, coffee and a bad of MWG paraphernalia for me, including a baseball cap. Herr Ball was late for another meeting, so he had to rush out. I was left with the head of MWG.
Then we got down to business. It was time to take the picture. So we went outside and took one in front of the big MWG logo. Haha I could tell he felt completely awkward and I was eating it up.
Two things to comment on regarding these events. Everyone is shocked, and I mean really shocked that I am an American and I know German. Like the head of the Bio-diesel plant would tell everyone we ran into that, “She is an american- and she knows german!” The second thing. I have been to three outside field trips/meetings, and every time I am the only woman there. And every time, someone has commented on my looks in a joking or sarcastic way. I have gotten three different words, schoen, hubsch, und attracktiv, which all basically mean the same thing. For example, one guy said something to the effect of, “Oh yea, Herr Ball always arrives with beautiful women”. And the head of MWG made a comment twice that he didn’t want to be alone in a picture with such an attractive woman. It’s like, ok, I’m flattered. But somewhat inappropriate? I assume it’s just a cultural difference.