Sonntag, 28. Juni 2009

Things Learnt at a Class Reunion

Yesterday, I went to my 20 year Abitur school reunion.

The principal of the school gave us a tour of the building, and kept complaining about deterioration and decay. According to him, they urgently need several million Euros to fix the worst problems, but the city has no money, so little will happen. When I mentioned the stimulus funds specifically earmarked for education-related investments, he said that it doesn't help, because the city needs to make a contribution as well, and simply has no money. (We are talking about a reasonably prosperous mid-sized Bavarian city with - so far - little unemployment)

Though later, I talked to an ex-classmate who is now involved in municipal politics in a Munich suburb. He said that everybody there is really happy about the stimulus funds, because 85 % of investment costs are paid by Berlin, with only 15 % to be contributed by the municipality. According to him, there is large demand for the funds.

Regarding German demographics, it might be interesting to note that out of a class of 56, not a single person is currently residing abroad. A handful apparently lived abroad for a few years, but all have since returned. Roughly 90 % live in Bavaria. All of the others have moved to Hessen or Baden-Wuerttemberg.

While lots still don't have any kids, the number of families with 3 (and in one case even 4) kids was surprisingly large. But overall, I doubt that the fertility rate has reached the national average of 1.4 - there were too many people with no kids at all. Well, I suppose there's still a bit of time left to get there.

One ex-classmate who hasn't moved away and who now has two kids in elementary school told me that in their school in our once "purely Germanic" small town (there was not a single "migrant" in my elementary school class, and the Abitur class of 56 people had one ethnic Croat and 55 Germans), nearly half the kids do not have German as their native language. Russian is by far the most common foreign language, but apparently there are now also significant numbers of Polish, Czech, Turkish, Iraqi, Lebanese, Afghani, Pakistani and Vietnamese kids.

As far as I could figure out, nobody had so far lost his/her job due to the crisis, and nobody felt in any immediate danger. Though the various engineers did unanimously report that their companies had pretty much eliminated business trips altogether over the last 6 months, some were on Kurzarbeit, and in one case, a company was postponing salary payments by one week to be able to be able to meet financial convenants.

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