It was sometime late last year — after the election and before Christmas — that Ute, a correspondent for the Hohenloher Tagblatt in Crailsheim, inquired about the Worthington contingent traveling to the sister city in the summer of 2017.
“Are you coming?” she asked. It’s the 70th anniversary of the Worthington-Crailsheim sister city partnership. “You’re welcome to stay with me,” she offered.
Ute planted the seed — the idea for me to return to Crailsheim three years after my first visit, report on the 70th anniversary celebration and perhaps find a few more stories to share with our Globe readers in the process.
Once that seed was planted, everything seemed to happen so fast. Ute provided a lengthy list of story ideas, my editor helped me pare down the list to a workable load, and my name joined the list of more than 100 local travelers eager to visit our beautiful sister city in southern Germany.
Periodic emails back and forth this spring led to an onslaught of daily communication in the two weeks prior to the trip. Ute, who would not only be my host, but my translator and chauffeur, had lined up interviews and story sources and packed a whole lot of education into eight and a half days.
My German vocabulary has more than doubled, and after a trip to the store on Saturday, I nearly said “danke” to the guy who held the door open for me. Greeting my boss Monday morning with “guten morgen,” caused him to ask if I’d said “Captain Morgan.”
I want to say “mit” instead of “with” and kartoffelsalat is just so much more fun to say than potato salad.
Many years have passed since my eighth grade German class with Herr Pearson, so I had a lesson from Ute on der, die and das. And, when I said auf wiedersehen to one of the individuals I interviewed, I heard some giggles. Apparently “Tschuss” is the modern way to say goodbye in Germany these days.
I can, by no means, complete an entire sentence in Deutsch, but as I learned three years ago, we can talk with our hands and our feet. Shrugging shoulders, smiles and laughter works, too!
This week, in between the 4 a.m. “ready to get to work” insomnia, afternoon catnaps and evening yawns, I get to write about the people of Crailsheim in a series of stories. At the very least, I hope you will get a sense of what makes our sister city relationship with Crailsheim meaningful, important and one to be proud of.
In 2019, people from Crailsheim will once again visit Worthington — some may be traveling here for the first time, while others have made multiple trips. In 2020, Worthington will again plan a trip to Crailsheim. These trips are fostering new friendships while offering incredible experiences and boundless opportunities to learn from one another.
We celebrate 70 years of friendship — the longest-running sister city partnership in the world — and we are ready to journey through the next 70 years together.