1984, a year usually associated with the dystopian novel of the same name, was anything but dystopian for 48 American college students.
It was the year Steve Jobs rolled out the first Macintosh computer, a box-like machine that had no memory built in. Total sales for cell phones were 7,000, up from 0 in 1983. Ghostbusters, starring Bill Murray, was the top grossing film. As a duet, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson topped the pop charts, as did a man from my home state of Minnesota, Prince. Ronald Reagan was reelected, and the Winter Olympics were held in Yugoslavia, a country that no longer exists.
My 47 “classmates” and I were the pilot participants in a new program, the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals.
Young and idealistic, we were wide open to what would come from the program that had chosen us, which had promised us each a year of school, work, family life, and adventure in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. The BRD, also known as West Germany.