Change of view direction . First meeting with my exchange partner Eddie Scott . 2015
As part of my job as head of the public order and security service of the City of Aachen at that time, I was selected to participate in the international work exchange between the municipalities of Aachen and Cape Town on the topics of safe and clean city. At the age of 29, I had no idea that this would have a lasting impact on my life and my professional life.
Thanks to the extremely positive initial contact and the gracious support of Gabriele Schütz-Lembach over many years, I have not only learned a lot through the partnership, but have also been able to change my view of many things. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for this, especially towards Gabriele, but also towards many other members of the partnership association.
Let us now turn to my first meeting with my colleague from Cape Town. In the development cooperation between Aachen and Cape Town, a delegation trip to Cape Town was planned for November 2015. Before that, a visit of some colleagues from the Cape Town Municipality to Aachen took place in June 2015. This was also the first meeting with my exchange partner and now fatherly friend, Eddie Scott, who is the manager responsible for district development of the Improvement Districts at the Cape Town Municipality.
I was keen to meet Eddie before the official start of the work exchange in Aachen, which was scheduled for Monday morning. Without further ado, I organised a meeting in the afternoon of the official start and picked Eddie up at his hotel at Aachen’s Marschiertor. After a short greeting and a chat about the beautiful weather in Aachen, Eddie got straight to the point and informed me that he was shocked „how dirty“ it was in Aachen. He asked me if I had seen that the tree grates were not well maintained, that there was a lot of rubbish on the street and that there was unattractive graffiti on many houses. All that would be unthinkable in the inner city of Cape Town. „Bang, that hit home!“ This extremely nice person travels 9500 km from Cape Town to Aachen and has nothing better to do than to badmouth my beloved home town. Somehow I had imagined diplomacy differently. After I was speechless for a moment (which happens rather rarely), Eddie immediately had a few good ideas on what I could change and always managed to get me thinking by asking critical questions. At this point, our meeting was about an hour old. I then walked around Aachen with Eddie for about 4 hours, including a short escort by my colleagues from the public order office, and was thus able to give a passable impression of Aachen after all.
What became clear to me even during this first meeting was that Eddie would change my view of my work and the environment in Aachen, and that he had shown me things in this short time that I had never noticed before. I was able to do the same during my return visit to Cape Town. The focus on „learning from each other“ was the greatest benefit of working with Eddie Scott.