Name: Marvin Nowak
Where you’re from: Pretty much my entire (30-people-strong) family lives in a small village called Ofden, which is close to the historically not insignificant city of Aachen. I’ve always envied people who get to visit relatives all over Germany, but meeting half your family while walking the dog certainly has some upsides. I feel fortunate to have grown up there.
Where and what you’re studying: I’m currently finishing my master’s in North American Studies at the University of Bonn – so getting to intern in DC was a much appreciated opportunity.
What is one project or activity you enjoyed at the Embassy?
Having worked closely with the protocol department to organize and help carry out pretty much every event at the Ambassador’s Residence over the last three months has provided me with a close-up look of diplomacy at work. To see how international relations are eventually translated into relationships between individual people was inspiring and has helped to put things into perspective. Being here for the visits of Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Maas definitely felt like a privilege. I’ll never forget anxiously waiting for the Chancellor’s motorcade at the Residence while receiving arrival updates from Secret Service.
What do you think is one of Germany’s main foreign policy challenges and what should Germany do about it?
You’ve probably read several passionate pleas for a unified Europe in this section. But yes, we’ll have to continue working hard to convince people of the added value of a strong European Union that gets to speak with one voice on the world stage. Excuse the political jargon – I’ve spent too much time in DC!
What are some cultural impressions you gained of the United States?
I first arrived in the States as a 16-year-old exchange student. Having been back several times, I’ve come to appreciate the general positive vibe and the optimistic outlook of the American people. All stereotypical superficiality aside, Germans would do good to take in some of that “it’ll work out in the end” mindset.
What has been your biggest surprise with regard to living in Washington?
I didn’t expect DC to be so colorful – and I don’t just say that because I arrived in the midst of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Washingtonians can be rightfully proud of the richness of the many diverse neighborhoods that expand beyond the mall. Strolling through the streets of Dupont & Logan Circle, Georgetown or Adams Morgan was a refreshing escape from the political bubble.
What do you miss about Germany?
Good coffee. Sorry, America.
What has been your biggest lesson learnt during your internship?
To prioritize, organize – and most importantly, to remain calm while you reprint that misspelled place card at the very last minute. Working for the Ambassador’s Social Secretaries and his Chief of Staff has been an intense experience I wouldn’t want to have missed.
What has been your biggest challenge living here?
Dealing with the unpredictability of the D6 – the bus line that takes me to the Embassy.
Where do you plan to go or what do you plan to do after your internship?
After another brief internship with a member of Bundestag, I’ll have to sit down and write my Master’s thesis. Then it’s on to looking for a real job – preferably in a transatlantic and/or parliamentary environment.