An Expat’s Love Note to America

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one sums up the different feelings my husband and I had about moving to Germany. Also, I had bangs. Photo credit Jane Vance, my mother, who also happens to be an amazing gift-giver as evidenced by these going away presents.

Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s in America, I was taught that I was unique. School curricula and public television, like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street, beamed into my young mind the not-so-subliminal message that I should celebrate this uniqueness. This idea was so central to my self-development that I assumed it was universal — I assumed all children, wherever they are, grow up celebrating their own uniqueness.

It was not until I moved abroad and met people from other countries that I learned this was not the case. As children, some were taught to conform, to follow…


So many good points here Melinda, yet I can't help but feel that we have to fundamentally change media at a minimum and human nature as a whole. Maybe the good app could do this!

I remember as a child, watching the news and wondering why there were always stories about bad things. The "good things" moments were typically reserved for a feel-good story about pets or kids at the end of a newscast or a charming segment during the weather forecast. …


Privilege is Invisible, but Only if You Have It

Where we didn’t watch any of this year’s Oscar nominated films. Photo by Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash

Every year, my husband and I watch all of the Best Picture nominations before the Oscars. While living abroad, it has usually been a (mostly-pleasant) challenge: Before this year, we had to orchestrate our movie-watching plans with utmost precision. Some films (like Mank for us this year, which we abandoned half-way through) leave us scratching-our heads, reminding us that we are not film critics. Others, which likely would have languished on our watch lists for years, we force-watch and enjoy. The “effort” pays off when we find our own “best pictures” — those that challenge our perspectives and encourage self-reflection.


My Thoughts on the Eve of Your First Management Position

Picture from a time when I wasn’t afraid to get on a horse. Five years ago, while on a team building event (which, to be clear, I organized), I fell off a horse and broke my back. My leadership journey has been full of times when I fell off the proverbial horse, and like the saying, I’ve dusted myself off and gotten back on. Photo courtesy of my mother.

Dear Former Team Member Whom I Would Now Call a Friend,

Let me start by saying that people will surprise you. The fact that you call me an inspirational leader surprises me. This is, in part, because I feel like I failed a lot as a leader while you were working for me.

I did not spend too much time thinking about leaders and leadership until I came to Germany. I grew up with plenty of role models — influential teachers, coaches and my parents — but I never thought of them as leaders. …


Using a Fake Holiday to Say Some of the Important Things

My sister and brothers, smiling at the camera, while I smile at my brother’s head. Photo courtesy of my parents.

A few weeks ago, I had to give a speech on “what makes the perfect family” in my German class. What I said, or at least meant to say, was that there are many different kinds of families, and as long as the families are full of love, it does not matter if there are one, two or three Papas or Mamas; it does not matter if there are no Kinder or many Kinder; and that sometimes “family” are one’s close Freunden and Freundinnen.

It is an easy statement for me to make because people have made me feel like…


Please Resist the Urge to Rub it in My Face Now

7 April 2020 > 7 April 2021. Photo Credit Chris Summers (L) and me (R).

I was wrong, and I am sorry. I was smug here in Germany, and now I am stuck. I am stuck in an endless cycle of prevention, preparation and stillness.

In the first six months of the pandemic, Germany was lauded for its response (although this success was eclipsed by countries like Vietnam and Thailand, which received much less recognition). Living in Germany, we benefitted not only from the country’s strong response, but also from the remarkably beautiful weather — each day seemed warmer and sunnier than the one before. Our family back in the U.S. …


Reflections After a Month of Alumni Interviews

My high school graduation. Photo credit one of my parents, I assume.

Earlier this year, I had the honor of interviewing prospective college students. As I conducted interviews from my kitchen home office, I could not help feeling both uncomfortable and inadequate. How does a diploma, earned years ago, give me the right to make judgments on the sum of a student’s lifetime accomplishments, and ultimately assess the student’s admission-worthiness? How can I possibly gain enough knowledge from a 45-minute Zoom conversation to write a valuable recommendation? Should the recommendation I write based on one interview influence the course of a teenager’s future?

I chose a style for the interview that reflected…


Hopefully the Final Chapter of Pandemic Hair

March 2020. May 2020. January 2021. Photo credits Chris Summers.

There are some things that I am missing,
Restaurants and bars, even air kissing.

There is one thing I find quite pleasing,
And that’s my brows, which I’ve stopped tweezing.

For twenty years, to look my best,
I’ve put my brows through quite the test.

No doubt the screens obscure my face,
So my brows seem not out-of-place.

My husband cannot seem to tell,
That I’ve escaped from my own hell.

(It’s fair to say he does not care
To dwell upon my facial hair.

“Are squids a mollusk?” asks my man,
“Ask Google that,” I subtly pan.)

So begone…


An Outsider’s Attempt to Draw Parallels between Two Unrelated Topics

What our typical commute looks like. Photo of my husband in the camper van courtesy of my neighbor Marc Schmidt.

Germany is famous for its speed-limitless Autobahns. They are — literally — the stuff of legend. In America, we speak with awe about the potential to zoom down the highway without fear of being pulled over. After living here, we know (thanks to a few speeding tickets) that the places where speed is unregulated are few and far between, and one must stay on high alert to sudden shifts from no-limit driving to speed-controlled areas.

For almost the entirety of my time here, it has felt like there has been a construction project on the highways between my home and…


I Know You’ve Got a Lot of Strength

I love the Kate Bush song “This Woman’s Work;” it demonstrates human need and longing, which are often brought to the forefront in moments of crisis. Photo courtesy of katebush.com.

Other than the fact that it is hauntingly sad and beautiful, “This Woman’s Work” has absolutely nothing to do with Sarah Everard’s murder,¹ and yet somehow it was the first song that came to my mind. Inspired by one of the comments on Julie Cohen’s article, I was challenged to think about what work, exactly, all men could do to make women feel safer as we go about this world.

The first step would be some hard and painful physical changes. Most men would have to amputate their lower legs around the mid-calf area; this would allow men to experience…

Kerry Summers

American living in Nürnberg, Germany. I write about expat life, culture, leadership and marketing.

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