Grant County People: Former exchange students connect in Germany

Philipp Otter and Ben Moeckel stand with the Blue Mountain Eagle in front of the Bradenburger Tor.

Philipp Otter and Ben Moeckel were exchange students in Grant County and the young men's experiences in Eastern Oregon, USA, obviously had an impact on them. They recently sent this picture to share a little history of their hometown and say "Hello" to their friends here.

The following letter comes to us from Philipp:

"I have been an exchange student from Berlin, Germany, in Grant County from the summer of 2000 until the summer of 2001. I lived with the family of Mr. Mathew Jones in Mt. Vernon. During the year, I met Ben Moeckel, also from Berlin, who lived with Mr. Hal Arbogast in Long Creek. After visiting Grant County last spring, Ben and me got in touch and decided to meet somewhere in Berlin.

"I brought the most recent Eagle I had. That way the attached picture came to be. It is in front of the Bradenburger Tor (Brandburg gate). Exactly 13 years ago Germany was reunited with a big festival on this place. During the 40 years of separation, the gate became a symbol of the tension between the Western and the Eastern Block. The wall crossing this place made it to one of the hardest controlled areas in the world. Trying to escape from the Eastern Block basically meant to get shot at.

"Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Berlin and because of its historical value it is always special to pass it. The American Embassy is going to be built on the lefthand side, the location where it used to be before World War II.

"Maybe you will be able to publish this picture in your 'traveling with the Eagle' section of the paper, although it is not a real journey I am on right now. I am so thankful that I had the chance to stay one year in Grant County and really miss it to be there. At the same time, I know that I will keep coming back. Best wishes to all my friends over there, especially to the Joneses and Larssens and the Burton family, which made my stay last spring another great experience."

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