On Wednesday, September 29, 2021, my first period German class and I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Consul General David Gill ,who has been consul general at the German Consulate in New York City since 2017, and Consul Marks arrived at Dingman Delaware Middle School around 7:40 a.m.
We were very excited and had prepared. The day before, we had put together a list of questions that we wanted to ask them. We had learned a lot of interesting things about Consul General Gill and his professional life. One of them was that he was a plumber before becoming Consul General. I think most of us, myself included, were very impressed.
Beginning with a few personal questions we asked him about favorite foods and movies, one of his answers included his favorite German food “Spaetzle,” a homemade pasta dish. A similar question, his favorite American food, he says, “I always like a good cheeseburger.”
Although I was nervous in the beginning, Consul General Gill was very laid back and normal with us. This comment especially showed me that even though this day was out of the ordinary, the Consul General himself was just like us, even though he is from a different country.
We also learned a bit about his past while he was here. He was born in Schönebeck, Germany. He grew up in East Germany. He then went to college to study the only thing he was permitted to study, theology. But then after the reunification, which was the reuniting of West Germany and East Germany, he worked as a Federal Commissioner for the Stasi records. After that he became the press secretary of a high-ranking German politician named Joachim Gauck. He had built his way up from a plumber to then become a Consul General.
Consul General Gill had told us that he had met a lot of interesting people throughout his years as Consul General. He had also told us of one of his more inspiring clients. A woman came into his office one day. She was 90 years old. After having moved to the USA a long time ago, she wanted her German citizenship back. Because back then, if you moved to one country, you couldn’t keep your German citizenship. So here she was, even though Germany had gone through some rough times in its history, this woman was still German, and she still wanted to be German.
But these opportunities to hear about these amazing stories, and these questions answered, don’t just come up regularly. The only reason Consul General Gill was even able to come to our school was because he toured this area as part of his consular assignment. Before leaving, my class also had a picture taken with Consul General Gill, and we received German-themed gifts like a Beethoven music box that plays “Für Elise.” We were very excited and grateful for these gifts.
My first period German class and I will never forget this special visit. Overall it was a very captivating experience. The interview with the Consul General showed me that no matter who you are, or where you come from, you can accomplish something great.
Keenan McHenry is an eighth-grader at Dingman Delaware Middle School.