Race, Politics and Sports in Germany

I traveled to Berlin and Cologne, Germany with my Dunn Sport and Wellness Scholars program to learn about the role the Berlin Olympics played in the history of the world and also about the intersectionality between sports and society.  We explored the history of the Berlin Olympics and the main role it played during this period of time just prior to World War II by visiting Olympic Stadium in Berlin and the Olympic Sport Museum in Cologne.

In front of Olympic Stadium

As the election period heightened this year, Donald Trump has been compared to Adolf Hitler based on his discriminatory actions towards Muslims.  After going to see the Berlin Wall and visiting the Topography of Terror museum that explained how discriminatory practices against Jews were put into action, I saw numerous parallels to the rhetoric Hitler and his supporters used in the 1930’s to what Trump and his supporters use today.  “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” explains how America has not learned from Germany’s mistake.  Germany is still ashamed of themselves for the Holocaust.  Our tour guide in Berlin showed us an apartment that had German flags displayed outside and she said it isn’t common to see German flags flown outside of residences because of the lack of national pride.  People don’t necessarily say they’re proud to be German because of the negative connotation of what it means.  Germany is ashamed of their past and is trying to right their wrongs while many in the US seem to be proud of the discrimination done in the past and still done today.  I had feared history repeating itself but didn’t understand the full effect of the past and what could be until visiting Berlin.

Being at Ohio State has tainted my view of the love and appreciation we have about Jesse Owens because we have so many buildings named after him.  I was under the impression he was well loved all over the nation due to how well he did in the 1936 Olympics I was surprised to see that Jesse was much more celebrated in Berlin than he was in the US.

Street behind Olympic Stadium named after Jesse Owens

One reason why Jesse was treated so well in Germany was because of the lack of Africans in Germany.  There weren’t segregated bathrooms or living quarters based on race because Germany didn’t have enough Africans to discriminate against.  The racial makeup of Germany still hasn’t changed in that regard.  I could go hours without seeing someone of African descent.  It was a tad bit alarming because I felt like I stuck out due to my race but it’s not much different from being at Ohio State.

At Olympic Stadium, there’s a VIP lounge named after Jesse and a street right behind the stadium.  After reading more in depth about the Olympics, the Germans celebrated Jesse and his accomplishments.  They chanted his name in the stadium, followed him around to get autographs and pictures; where in the US he came back to the same racism as any other black person.  He represented this country abroad but was treated the same when he got back.  This led me to want to make sure no black athlete dies in vain.  Jesse did wonders in the track and field community but when he died, there was barely a peep.  Being able to see the movie “Race” has shed some light on his life but I hope to carry his spirit along with me in all my sport endeavors.

The political atmosphere during the 1930’s in Germany was tumultuous.  Hateful rhetoric towards Jewish people, homosexuals and those with disabilities were the main topic of propaganda.  Sadly, some of this same rhetoric has made its way into our own political atmosphere.  One way politics and sports go together in Germany is many words that have to do with sport have political meanings behind them.  Behind Olympic Stadium there is a field that was used for political marches and parades.  Hitler would use sports to brainwash young people into believing the Nazi Party’s ideals.  Germany’s soccer federation The DFB excluded anyone who was Jewish from participating in the sport including players, owners and journalists. Because of the discrimination, the United States almost boycotted the Olympics but the United States Olympic Committee voted to participate anyway.  Who knows what the world would be like if Jesse Owens wasn’t able to win his four gold medals and showcase to the world that the Aryan race was not as dominate as they proclaimed.

Berlin Wall Memorial

As of late I have been interested in learning more about how discrimination is infiltrated in society.  Propaganda is the way the Nazi Party was able to do so in Germany.  Propaganda is also a way discrimination occurs in the US but the media as a whole has a bigger impact.

After seeing the parallels in the Topography of Terror museum, I want to be more informed about the government and their plans for the next four years.  Being black in America isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be.  People have joked that there’s going to be a revolution due to the election of Donald Trump but I believe there will be and I will take part in it.  I can’t sit around and hope everything will be okay.  There’s a call to action and I must answer.  I’m used to biting my tongue and going with the flow but I can’t anymore because my civil rights are at stake.  I will not let the freedoms Jesse didn’t have growing up be taken away.  I will fight using sports, the same way Jesse did.

Studying at WHU: A Truly Transformational Experience


For my STEP transformational experience, I studied abroad autumn semester of 2016 in Germany.  This was a program through Fisher College of Business’s Office of Global Business, where I was an exchange student at the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany for the entire semester taking business and German language classes.  Being a solely business-focused institution I was able to hone in on my passion for business alongside students from all over the world.

When I used to picture myself studying abroad, I anticipated that I would eventually adjust and have wonderful adventures, but only a few weeks of a lot of fear and culture shock.  Yes, I had a bit of that the first few weeks living in Germany, but with the help of my fellow exchange students and German friends it was much smoother than I anticipated. The first lesson I learned was to use my network, and to not be afraid to ask for help.  Months leading up to my departure, I started reaching out to friends who either live in Germany currently or spent some time there, even if I hadn’t spoken to them in some time.  After some digging I even found out that my friend Dominic who was an exchange student at my high school currently attends WHU (Crazy coincidence!).  In other cases, I had friends who heard I was going to Germany and contacted me.  Talking to people with experience was the best preparation I could have had, from learning more about WHU, to simple things like how to navigate the grocery store.  By putting in the effort to meet German students at my university I also felt much more integrated, and they helped me along the way as well.  There were many situations, from figuring out my mail to needing to call Deutsche Bahn using German, where I was able to recruit some of my kind German friends to help me.  I used to see my study abroad semester as much more of an independent and often lonely experience, but this was certainly not the case!  I met so many wonderful people from all over the world, and we helped each other in so many ways in addition to our wonderful traveling adventures together.

A unique aspect of WHU that I was able to take part in at WHU are company presentations.  Just about every week a different company came and offered a presentation and networking dinner.  Many of these presentations were in German, but I was able to attend the Oliver Wyman (a consulting firm) company presentation which was in English.  During the networking dinner I had conversations with representatives from the company (many of them being graduates of WHU) and I enjoyed how casual and honest the conversations seemed.  Often times I find these sort of encounters to be quite scripted, but when it came to events at WHU it was not at all the case.


To be honest, consulting was not something I seriously considered before coming to WHU.  But due to the fact that a large percentage of WHU students enter that sector after graduation, there was a huge consulting firm presence on campus.  Through talking to firms at both company presentations and the career fair I started to realize that it really might be a great fit for me.  I’m now quite excited about the idea, and it’s amazing to think that had I not gone abroad for a semester at WHU I may not have explored this option.  It may be due to the fact that I stepped back a bit from my normal life in the US allowing me more space to think about what I actually want after graduation, or simply because there’s a huge push towards consulting there, but either way I’m very pleased about this! Even though I was away from Ohio State, I still interviewed and was accepted to the Fisher Emerging Consultants class next semester, and am excited to continue exploring this option.


Beyond the university-sanctioned events, attending an exclusively business institution also had its benefits.  I thoroughly enjoy the fact that Ohio State has a plethora of majors available, with that comes such a diverse student population in terms of talents and perspectives.  But there’s also something to be said for WHU, where you could talk about business internships, aspirations, and issues with everyone you met.  There was certainly a unique drive and ambitious character to WHU students when it came to business.  Never before had I been in a room with 4 other young college students, speculating over dinner about the future of the labor market as digitalization improves.  To be around those students was truly inspiring! Additionally, the exchange student population was comprised of business students from top-notched business schools across the globe, so there was such a diverse set of backgrounds and business perspectives represented.  My network definitely became much larger and more international while abroad!


Moving forward, I can see myself having a much more open mind when approaching problems or interacting with people different from myself, and have seen myself become much more flexible and calm under pressure.  These were essential qualities to have when traveling and living in an unfamiliar environment for four months, qualities that I definitely didn’t consider myself having before leaving the country. Additionally, I was able to face so many of my fears while I was abroad.  From living far away from my family to traveling alone, I certainly have so many crazy stories to tell. But now that I’ve survived many of my greatest fears, what do I have to be afraid of anymore? Fears that used to hold me back in so many ways have now lost much of their validity, giving me such a freeing feeling as I know I will face many more challenges in the coming transitional years.

So yes, it’s safe to say that I was able to travel and have a ton of fun while abroad.  That’s to be expected, but my time there became much more valuable than simply bragging rights due to places I’ve traveled and something to stick on my resume, hoping that companies will see that I have an “international perspective”. I truly learned so much, both personally and professionally.


If you’re interested in hearing more about my time abroad, check out my blogs with the Office of Global Business:


Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark


Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark


My STEP Signature Project was a six week study abroad program in Copenhagen, Denmark. I took two three credit hour classes through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. The classes I took were The Social Brain: Neuropsychology of Social Behaviors, and Cognitive Neuroscience of Fear.

This study abroad experience was one of the most impactful experiences in my life up to date. The reason I chose this program was because it was relevant to my major, and I only had minimal knowledge on Scandinavian culture. Not only did I learn in the classroom, for classes that counted towards both my majors, but it also taught me how to live independently in a foreign country, a country that has now become one of my favorite areas in the world. It also showed me how to be more culturally competent, especially when traveling to places I know close to nothing about.

I knew only a couple of people from OSU going on the same trip, but for the most part I had to do everything independently. This scared me a little because I can be a very dependent person, and with living in Ohio my entire life, I was never far from home and would always lean on family and friends. With the support of my family and peers, I embarked on this journey alone, which was frightening at times, but it also taught me a lot about self-sufficiency, especially in a foreign culture. Whether it be traveling to a different part of the country by myself, or having to deal with a stolen bike, it was definitely a growing experience having to handle everything independently. Even coming back from my study abroad, I definitely view myself as being more independent and less reliant on others, which for me is good because I tend to be an extremely dependent person. Living in Scandinavia for six weeks was the longest I have been away from home in my entire life, and it was a growing experience that I needed to have.

The curriculum of my two classes aligned well with my studies in Neuroscience and Psychology at Ohio State. During the first class on social psychology, we were asked to observe Danish behavior and part of our assignment was to interact with locals. This really helped me get out of my comfort zone and meet new people native to the area. It also helped with tying in understanding a new culture while also learning in the classroom. I have traveled to Western Europe, so I assumed it would be fairly similar. However, I was definitely surprised to learn how separated and homogenous the Scandinavian region is compared to the rest of Europe. I was mildly afraid of how race and lack of diversity would contribute to my experience, as it has to my other travel experiences, and I was shocked by how welcomed I felt by the local people. I talked extensively to different Danish people about their perception of foreigners, and gathered information about the historicity of the region. After assessing all of my observations and interactions with the people of Denmark, I gained a greater understanding of the dynamics of the country, which proved my preconceived assumptions as false. Along with meeting the Scandinavian locals, I also got the chance to meet and learn about other students around the United States from different colleges. Honestly, this was also a slight culture shock, as I never interact much with other college students around the country often. Their perception of the culture varied from mine, and we all compared different viewpoints and observations. Overall, this was a twofold cultural learning experience for me.

During the fifth week of my study abroad program, Our Cognitive Neuroscience of Fear class took a study tour to Munich, Germany, so now I was studying abroad while studying abroad. This part of the trip was the most impactful for me because we toured different research facilities and met with different Neuroscience researchers. After graduation, I dream of getting a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, so meeting these professionals and reviewing their research was a phenomenal experience for me. The presenters discussed a program offered in Munich, which definitely piqued my interest for the future. Each assignment challenged me academically, while also serving as a reminder for my career goals.

Munich, Germany

Munich, Germany

Throughout the trip, I had a lot of different conversations with Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian locals that taught me what a textbook about Scandinavia could not. A specific interaction that stuck out to me was when I was on a eight hour train ride traveling to the northern part of Denmark. My friends and I sat with a Danish person, and talked to him the entire time about cultural differences and perceptions of our respective homelands. I learned a lot about Danish mannerisms, and he even gave us lessons on how to speak the language! Something that he said that was interesting to me is that everyone in Scandinavia is expected to speak English, which is something that us Americans take for granted. Everyone can speak our language, but most times we cannot reciprocate that. Denmark to me seemed like a dream country, but America to him seemed very unrealistic and magical to him (although most Danish people I talked to had no idea what Ohio was and only knew of New York City and Disneyland). This casual interaction, among many that I had with the locals, impacted my perception of the culture greatly, and taught me about the Danish way of life.

Nyhavn, the canal and waterfront area of Copenhagen, Denmark

Nyhavn, the canal and waterfront area of Copenhagen, Denmark

Since Denmark is close to other European countries, my friend and I decided to travel on different weekends to other countries briefly. We ventured to Sweden and The Netherlands, just us two for each trip. Each trip was amazing and a new experience for me, but the planning processes were complicated, and many problems arose along the way. I have never traveled to another country with just a friend, so I had to make sure I planned everything precisely, while also keeping up with academics. Keeping up with budgeting and all of the logistics of each stay was tiring, but worth it at the end. It was yet another time I was forced to rely on just myself to avoid any blunders or mishaps while we traveled. In the end, each trip was amazing and worth all of the detail planning. Not only did I sightsee and learn about more countries and cultures, but I also had to organize, travel, and plan independently.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Throughout the trip, I had memorable experiences and created lifelong bonds with other OSU students, students from different colleges, and local Danish people. I also was reminded of what I want to pursue as a career through the different academic tours offered by the Study Abroad program. I also gained valuable experience regarding independence, whether it was living by myself in a foreign place, or planning and different trips in order to get more out of my Study Abroad experience. I can confidently say that I this was the most rewarding experience I have had in my lifetime. Moving forward, this study abroad experience has definitely impacted me positively and I am grateful that I decided to embark on this journey with the help of the STEP program.

Taken from the Church of Our Savior in Copenhagen, Denmark

Taken from the Church of Our Savior in Copenhagen, Denmark