My husband and I enjoyed attending local festivals while we were in Germany (1988-89). Among our favorite events were axe throwing competitions and chain saw demonstrations. Of course, we enjoyed the food and local beer, too! As we were sitting across from a German couple at a long table, we started talking. Hearing that we were American, they described the night of February 15, 1945–the day I was born in Illinois. They had been sitting on the very same hill, overlooking the valley. Their memory was of watching the bombing of the local city and the subsequent fire and destruction. I thought they would have negative feelings towards us, since those had been American bombers. Instead, they told of the caring and helpful American GIs in the time after the war. This was just one of the many chance encounters with locals that were profoundly important to me, showing that one to one contact is what truly forms international bonds.
Nancy Kuechelmann – Fulbright to Germany 1989