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Archive of Selected Past Events

February: Black History is America’s History: Celebrating Black History Month in Berlin

Dr. Layli Maparyan, the Katherine Stone Kaufmann ’67 Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women and Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College engaged with diverse youth groups in Berlin on January 27 to discuss the meaning of Black History Month and how it can cultivate social change leadership, not only in the U.S. but also around the world.

“Our differences make us stronger, and everyone has the agency and authority to make a positive difference in the world,“ Dr. Maparyan told a group of young activists who came together at the U.S. Embassy Berlin to discuss how to build cultures of inclusion as part of the Embassy’s celebration of Black History Month.  The diverse group of young leaders, from the Deutschlandstiftung Integration, Zahnräder Netzwerk, JUMA (Young/Muslim/Active), and the Young Transatlantic Initiative, discussed their community projects and the reconciliation methods introduced my Dr. Maparyan during her talk.

Sponsored by the U.S. Embassy Berlin, Dr. Maparyan also delivered a scholarly lecture and engaged in a discussion with students and faculty of the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Free University.  Within the framework of a “womanism” praxis, Dr. Maparyan outlined non-oppositional problem solving tools and illustrated how simple, personal acts can create amity and inclusion from the personal all the way up to the institutional level.

January 22: Ambassador Emerson visits Green Week

Ambassador Emerson and German Agricultural Minister Christian Schmidt in conversation

Ambassador Emerson and German Agricultural Minister Christian Schmidt in conversation

Ambassador Emerson visited the International Green Week in Berlin. Whilst there he paid a visit to the German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt to discuss T-TIP, Joachim Rukwied President of the German Farmers Union, and other important German agricultural representatives.  To finish off his visit the Ambassador visited the U.S. craft beer importer Derer Import GmbH.

U.S. Embassy Berlin Supports 7th Unknown Pleasures – American Independent Film Festival, January 1 to 16, 2015

For 16 days, the 7th American Independent Film Festival will again present Unknown Pleasures at the Babylon cinema at Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 30 in Berlin-Mitte.  The festival aspires to screen largely underrepresented U.S. movies, which, however, account for an equally important American cinematography.  This is not only because these independent productions often lack budgets exceeding millions of U.S. dollars—and therefore have difficulties competing with regular American films that are being released on a weekly basis—but also because they often challenge established aesthetic and narrative cinematographic conventions.  

For the program from January 1 to January 16, 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Berlin supports U.S. filmmaker and Harvard University Professor Alfred Guzzetti as well as Chicago singer and songwriter Willis Earl Beal, who also stars in the film Memphis, which will be screened on Wednesday, January 14, at 19:30 hrs, followed by a question-and-answer period, and again on Friday, January 16, at 19:30 hrs.  After the screening on Friday, Willis Earl Beal will also perform at the adjacent Roter Salon at the Volksbühne, Rosa Luxemburg Platz, starting at 22:00 hrs.

The special program in honor of Alfred Guzzetti will include the following screenings, mainly focusing on his autobiographical cycle, each to be followed by a question-and-answer period (except for the repeated program).

Family Portrait Sittings, which premiered at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1975, and the 2012-released Time Exposure on January 9, at 19:30 hrs.

Scenes from Childhood (1980) on Saturday, January 10, at 19:30 hrs.

Another set of short films will be screened on Sunday, January 11, at 18:00 hrs

Night Vision and Pictures from a Revolution (1991) on Monday, January 12, at 20:00 hrs.


Family Portrait Sittings and Time Exposure: January 14, at 20:45 hrs,

Night Vision and Pictures from a Revolution: January 15, at 20:45 hrs.

More information on the schedule available at: Schedule 

January 16: Members of the Congress-Bundestag Forum visit the Embassy

Ambassador and Mrs. Emerson with members of the Congress-Bundestag Forum

Ambassador and Mrs. Emerson with members of the Congress-Bundestag Forum

Ambassador Emerson met today with members of two Bundestag delegations that were sent to DC and California in fall 2014 as part of the Congress-Bundestag Forum.  The Congress Bundestag Forum is a joint project of the German Marshall Fund and the Robert Bosch Foundation that brings together young newly elected members of the German Bundestag with their counterparts in the United States Congress.  Participants in the forum, which is held every year and alternates between Germany and the USA, study current affairs and talk with decision makers and experts from universities and think tanks. Ambassador Emerson asked the participants in the recent visits about their impressions of both DC and his home state California and talked with them about the main topics covered during their visits.  

January 15: Intercultural reception to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. day held at the Ambassador's residence

Mrs. Emerson speaking to the guest at the intercultural reception

Mrs. Emerson speaking to the guest at the intercultural reception

Ambassador Emerson hosted an intercultural reception to mark Martin Luther King, Jr. day (January 19) and the issues of tolerance, diversity, equal rights, and freedom for 170 distinguished guests from the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities, as well as German, Turkish and Arabic business, political and community leaders actively involved in integration.  The date of the reception was especially relevant given the tragic events in Paris and Belgium. The audience included Ambassadors, Archbishop Dr. Nikola Eterovic, Apostolic Nuncio and Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps;  heads of Islamic religious groups and interfaith leaders from all over Germany, and five Members of Parliament.   Leonard Bernstein's daughter Jamie Bernstein was a special guest of the Ambassador.  (Leonard Bernstein was involved with human rights activism and is well known for changing the word "Joy" to "Freedom" in his concerts celebrating the Fall of the Berlin Wall.)  Also the short film “West Side Berlin,” the product of an anti-violence project with minority youth groups based on themes from Bernstein’s “West Side Story"  was screened.

A pianist performed songs of Leonard Bernstein and from the Civil Rights movement.

January 14: Civil Rights Activism of MLK, Jr. and Leonard Bernstein

Jamie Bernstein speaking at the World Café event

Jamie Bernstein speaking at the World Café event

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the U.S. Embassy hosted a World Café event for 30 students from various schools in Berlin and Brandenburg to explore “Civil Rights Activism of MLK, Jr. and Leonard Bernstein.” The students discussed the topic with Jamie Bernstein accomplished narrator, writer and broadcaster and daughter of Leonard Bernstein; Kimberly Marteau Emerson, member of the International Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch, and Craig Urquhart, accomplished musician, former assistant to Leonard Bernstein and Senior Consultant Press and Promotion The Leonard Bernstein Office.

Ambassador Keith Harper, U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council visits Berlin

Ambassador Keith Harper, Permanent U.S. Representative to the UN Human Rights Council, visited Berlin and met with German counterparts to discuss issues of common interest. 

Ambassador Emerson hosted a lunch in honor of Ambassador Harper with members of the Bundestag, members of the German government and leaders‎ of human rights NGOS. The lively discussions on the full range of human rights focused on US and German priorities for the Human Rights Council.

Later in the afternoon Ambassador Harper visited the Humboldt University for an in-depth discussion on human rights issues with students of the law faculty.


In this video interview,  Ambassador Harper addresses human rights successes, the need for human rights advocacy after the tragedy in Paris, the balance between privacy and security concerns, the question why the U.S. still has a death penalty and explains why the U.S. judges other countries on their human rights record.

U.S. Embassy Berlin Sponsors Minority Youth Leadership Workshop

NILE Group photo

Photo (c) Gün Tank

The U.S. Embassy is proud to sponsor the 2014 Network Inclusion Leaders seminar held this week in Berlin, in cooperation with Each One Teach One (EOTO) e.V., the Berlin-Brandenburg Migration Council, and the Integration Commission for Tempelhof-Schöneberg. The 4-day seminar aims to strengthen minority advocacy by supporting young leaders seeking to enhance diversity and inclusion, thereby strengthening society as a whole. The 18 participants represented minority communities, student unions, associations, and non-profit organizations from across Germany. American political scientist and civil rights activist Dr. Terri Givens (University of Texas, Austin) delivered the keynote speech on strategies for developing anti-discrimination policies.

December 5: Going Green Awards Ceremony

Prize winners present their action plans at the Going Green award ceremony

Prize winners present their action plans at the Going Green award ceremony

"Going Green" is a major national campaign geared at secondary schools and builds on experts, teacher trainings and web 2.0 innovative teaching tools.

On December 5, 2014, Ambassador Emerson presented awards to more than 200 German high school students for their sustainability action plans at the final event of the U.S. Embassy Going Green Project at the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Berlin.  The goal of the Going Green project is to compare environmental sustainability approaches in both the United States and in Germany, to examine U.S. initiatives on the local and state level, and to consider green initiatives in the students’ own regions.

Since September about 1,000 teachers and their students all over Germany have been working on green issues by using tailor-made classroom materials on an e-learning platform established by the U.S. Embassy in close cooperation with LIFE e.V. and Leuphana University Lüneburg.   The year-long “Going Green – Education for Sustainability” blended learning project included teacher training seminars in 14 German states.  Some teachers partnered with U.S. schools and collaborated with them via e-mail, skype, chat rooms, and internet platforms.  The entire project was conducted in English. For more information on the campaign

December 5: Dr. Claude Fauquet spoke at Humboldt University about his fight against viruses affecting Cassava in Africa.

Dr. Fauquet gave a talk about the importance of Cassava in sub-Saharan Africa and how viruses destroy large parts of the production every year. 

In this video Dr. Fauquet talks about the fight against cassava viruses

The USDA, working with the Department of State, scheduled a program for a speaker - Dr. Claude Fauquet, director of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century – to discuss his work on cassava and how biotechnology is helping African farmers fight disease in a staple crop.  As part of the tour, Dr. Fauquet came to Berlin on December 5th. Dr. Fauquet visited the economics of horticultural production faculty of Humboldt University to inform students in the international course “biodiversity management and research”.  Dr. Fauquet presented for about 1 hour about the global cassava partnership for the 21st century and explained how biotech helps to fight a against Cassava viruses in Africa.

December 2: Both Sides of the Coin: Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Investment Banker in One

Erik Magdanz

Erik Magdanz

Erik Magdanz, a former entrepreneur and banker who is now a U.S. diplomat based in Berlin, spoke to 100 entrepreneurs, investors and business consultants on December 2nd at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.  Kimberly Martineau Emerson, a former Clinton Administration official, lawyer and civic leader from California, and wife of Ambassador John E. Emerson, kicked off the event. During the event, entitled “Both Sides of the Coin: Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Investment Banker in One,” Erik shared his insights on all aspects of entrepreneurship. He emphasized the importance of networking, even for successful entrepreneurs, and the lessons learned from failure. Beyond Berlin, others participated virtually, including three incubators from Finland and Latvia. The German-American Institute in Leipzig also hosted a watch party for local entrepreneurs. Several other viewers from around the world also watched this program live online. The audience in Berlin enjoyed the opportunity to network with each other at the follow-on reception. They left the “Both Sides of the Coin” discussion feeling excited and passionate, and urged even greater Embassy involvement in fostering an entrepreneurship culture in Germany.

This event follows up on the “Idea and Innovation Forum” hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Emerson at U.S. Embassy Berlin earlier in 2014 and the free, Embassy-supported “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship” massive open online course (MOOC) run by Dr. James V. Green of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, University of Maryland, from May 19 to June 29, 2014. Ambassador and Mrs. Emerson met with a various start-ups, including participants in a Google Launchpad Program, during a visit to The Factory in Berlin on October 2nd. The couple has made connecting the energies of young entrepreneurs and innovators in the U.S. and Germany one of their priorities during their time in Berlin. You can find more information about the US Embassy’s activities in the field of entrepreneurship at

December 1: U.S. Embassy Literature Series Featuring Brittani Sonnenberg

R. Jay McGill and Brittani Sonnenberg at the English Theatre Berlin

R. Jay McGill and Brittani Sonnenberg at the English Theatre Berlin

American author and Berlin resident Brittani Sonnenberg read from her debut novel Home Leave at the English Theatre Berlin on December 1. She shared the experience of an expat family moving between countries and cultures and dealing with change, loss, and the search for a home. R. Jay McGill, American Academy, moderated the lively discussion and allowed the young audience a glimpse into American expat life in the age of globalization--one aspect of American culture.

December 1: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Checkpoint Charlie

Mrs. Emerson, Ambassador Emerson and Alexandra Hildebrandt at the tree lighting ceremony

Mrs. Emerson, Ambassador Emerson and Alexandra Hildebrandt at the tree lighting ceremony

Ambassador John B. Emerson and his wife Kimberly lit the Christmas tree at Checkpoint Charlie on December 1, 2014. The annual tree lighting commemorates a 1961 event when a thousand Christmas trees were erected along the Berlin Wall to express solidarity with the people who lived in the former East Berlin. The illumination symbolizes hope, peace, and unity and also commemorates the Allied Forces who stood guard at this site and could not spend Christmas with their families. 25 years after the fall of the Wall, Ambassador Emerson said that “for Americans, the fall of the Wall and the unification of Berlin are symbols of the commitment to freedom, peace and prosperity that our two countries share.”