On day two of my fellowship in Germany, our group of 12 American journalists learned more about the organization sponsoring our trip, the RIAS Berlin Kommission.
RIAS stands for "Radio in the American Sector" and is a former radio station based in Berlin. The original office still stands but it now functions differently than in the past. Currently RIAS has taken on a role of exchange coordinator for American and German journalists. Since the fellowship program's inception in the early 1990s, more than 1000 journalists have had the opportunity to visit another country and explore it first hand.
I am fortunate to be one of 12 professionals doing just that, right now in Germany. I'm joined by 11 very impressive colleagues on this journey who come from a variety of media outlets and diverse backgrounds. Here is a list of those on the trip:
1) Azadeh Ansari, CNN International, Atlanta, GA, Editor
2) John Branch, CNN, Atlanta, GA, Editor
3) Heather Frierson, KCTV-5, Fairway, KS, Anchor
4) Robert Horton, KUOW-FM, Seattle, WA, Reporter
5) Waliya Lari, KTRK ABC, Houston,TX, Producer
6) Sonia Narang, Freelance Multi-Media Journalist, Los Angeles, CA
7) Tonya Papanikolas, KSL-TV, Salt Lake City, UT, Anchor
8) Shoshana Rubin, FOX NEWS, New York, NY, Producer
9) Derrall Stalvey, WRBC-TV, Chattanooga, TN, News Director
10) Shanda Sundstrom, KFSM-TV, Fort Smith, AR, Executive Producer
11) Erika Thomas, KMEG 14 News FOX 44, Dakota Dunes, SD, Anchor/Reporter
Probably the most exclusive and perhaps, important, interview of the trip took place at the German Chancellery in Berlin. This is the equivalent of the White House in the United States. It is the building where German Chancellor Angela Merkel conducts the nation's business along with a group of advisors and appointed deputies.
Our group spent an hour with one of those German leaders on the morning of Tuesday, September 4th. We met with Eckart von Klaeden, Minister of State in the Federal Chancellery and in charge of Federal State Coordination.
The general public is not permitted to enter the Federal Chancellery without an appointment, so we gained access to a restricted government building and more importantly, the chance to speak privately with one of the top 5 German leaders during a time of extreme importance in European history.
Mr. Klaeden immediately began discussion of the so-called "Euro Crisis" and was quick to point out that the Euro (the currency used in much of the European Union) is actually more stable than the Deutschmark, which was Germany's previous currency.
Germany, he said, has three principles guiding their Euro policy: