Kick-off in October 2018
From Strasbourg to Berlin: Norman’s Review
17 eventful and grand days running through Germany lie behind me. From Strasbourg to Berlin. In between 750 kilometres, 13 talks, numerous press appointments as well as countless conversations and encounters with young people. Rarely before have I experienced a tour as intense and multi-faceted as this kick-off stage of 7 CONTINENTS.
When I set off from the courtyard of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on October 4th, 2018 at just before 11:00 a.m. and took the first of a total of 20.000 kilometres, it was a special and at the same time strange feeling. For months and years have I prepared myself for this moment and longed for it. Now it had come.
From the many experiences I would like to pick out one, because I always think back to it with great joy. It is already day 3 of the kick-off stage through Germany. The longest stage is on the agenda – from Ettlingen to Heidelberg. 63 kilometers. What makes me particularly happy today is that I’m walking through my hometown of Karlsruhe. In bright sunshine I pass the Karlsruher Schloss, which was the residence of the margraves and grand dukes of Baden until 1918.
In the afternoon I reach Leimen, about seven kilometres south of Heidelberg. As I walk along the main street, I see two boys sitting on folding chairs on the right side, directly behind a bus stop. In front of them is a small square table on which they put some colorful earrings, a brown leather wristband and a red mobile phone case decorated with pearls. They greet me with radiant faces and a friendly “hello”.
“Hi, I’m Norman,” I reply. The two introduce themselves as Finn and Muser. “We’re making a flea market here. Do you want to buy something?”, Muser asks me curiously. Muser and his three siblings came from Pakistan to Germany many years ago. “I really like it here, and I like going to school,” he tells me. Finn proudly reports that he would like to become a professional footballer and that BVB is his favourite club. “What are you doing here? Where do you come from? Why are you running?”
This half hour with Muser and Finn is one of my personal highlights during the run through germany. These are the kinds of moments in which I know exactly why I am doing 7 CONTINENTS. What fascinates me about this experience and the other days of the run and what keeps me going despite physical exertion are the conversations and encounters with the young people. To hear about their points of view and opinions. To feel their enthusiasm and curiosity. The extremely positive feedback and the manifold answers to the seven questions motivate me.
Solely on the kick-off stage, we received about 1.500 votes. I am very impressed how open the young people are to the project and how they deal with the questions and answer them.