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Hospitality Exchange
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September 13 2002: I spent three days in Leipzig - two walking my heels off and talking, talking, talking, and today relaxing and working on the computer. It was great to catch up with Marc, a lifetime friend, who I am staying with these days, after a nice night at Bettina's place. Some of the things I did in Leipzig: I walked into the offices of basically any media there is here, daily and weekly papers, student magazines, radios, TV. The nicest was the reporter at Bild tabloid, he registered for the club and I will be in there again in a few days. Yesterday, I was invited to the studio of the local student radio Mephisto and had a nice talk about the club. Also hung up papers in the two hostels in Leipzig, met with Paul, another club member, went out at night with Marc, told priest Christian Fuehrer of the Nikolai Church about the club, he was one of the leading figures in the peaceful revolution of 1989 in Leipzig, sent out messages to all the student initiatives and organizations there are here, met an AFS girl that just lives a couple of doors down the road. I realized that it will be almost impossible to see quick results of my activities, since the media and internet activities don't automatically bring new members, they might hear about it, and register a bit later. Therefore I will modify the approach of this project a bit in the future... Tomorrow morning I will leave Leipzig towards Goettingen and Herzberg, and from Tuesday on I will be in Wuerzburg, doing an AFS orientation as volunteer.

September 10 2002: The long journey has begun. It took me a long time to get my energies together, pack all my stuff, get ready mentally. But tonight, I left Dresden and hitchhiked easily to Leipzig, my hometown. I lived here until I was 11 years old, we left after the peaceful revolution had won in November 1989. I am staying a night with Bettina Prokert, a 23-year old student, who signed up for The Hospitality Club after seeing the report on MDR television a few weeks back. Tonight she already helped me prepare a long list of places and offices I will go to trying to promote the club. Let's see how it works out...

August 30 2002: The water is gone in Dresden, I will write a longer story about the events of the last weeks soon and post more pictures on the site. I am still in Dresden, but will get going soon - first to Leipzig, so I can reach my goal of 100 members in Saxony. Today, there was an article on the club and me in the Dresden edition of Bild, Germany's largest newspaper and tabloid. BTW, I finally calculated how much hitchhiking I did during my year in Latin America: I covered around 40,000 kilometers by thumb!! One time around the planet. In total I have now hitchhiked approximately 140,000 kilometers in the last six years.

August 14 2002: I am still in Dresden and now I am witness to one of the biggest natural catastrophes in Germany's history - the flood. What is happening in Dresden is unbelievable. Large parts of the city are flooded, including the main train station, the area around the Zwinger and the main shopping street. A hospital is being evacuated, helicopters flying around everywhere, lifting people from houses, fire engines and ambulances racing through the streets. The Elbe river reaches a height that is to be seen to be believed. Many connections to the rest of the country are cut - highways are flooded, the trains don't run. Parts of the city are without energy and telephone. For many people who are direct victims of the floods, the situation is terrible. They are still announcing rising waters for the hours to come - tomorrow morning the peak supposedly will be reached. Yesterday, I went to the center and took pictures. Luckily, we are living on high grounds here in Radebeul at the edge of the valley, so no worries about my grandparents and their house.

July 15 2002: What an awesome first day!!! I finished my thesis in a monster 62 hour session, working alone all weekend in the Transparent Factory. In the morning I could feel that I would manage to get everything done on this deadline-day, so more and more happyness-adrenaline kept me awake. Checking the website of Radio Energy who had done an interview with me last week, I couldn't believe my eyes: I had made it into the top news!! They would repeat it every half hour all day! Around 14:00 three copies of my thesis of 80something pages were safe and hot in my hands, and I could feel the rocks of five years as a student fall from my shoulders. While they were turned into a book at the copyshop I looked around where I could listen to the radio for a while. Rang the bell at the office of the local AIDS-helping organization. Very nice people, we talked for some time about the project, the club, AIDS. I will definitely add this to my journey: writing stories about people and organizations. We were so into it, that I only caught a few words of my own voice on the radio. After a clove cigarette in my favourite place in Dresden - the statue in front of the Semperopera I went home. So excited. I had just finished university!! And the project had started!! Talked to my grandparents, before I dropped into my bed for the first real night's sleep in a long time...

June 25 2002: is connected and online.

June 16 2002: The site is written and designed with a lot of help from my brother Kay.

June 2002: The idea for a project in Europe combining The Hospitality Club, hitchhiking and travel stories takes shape in my head.

Read the stories!

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