Kaffee mit einem Journeyman

The story of Fabian Sixtus Körner caught my attention at the TEDxBerlin talks. His tale of traveling the world, working for room and board, and coming home a wiser, kinder man resonated strongly with me. I think this is the dream of my generation, and I don't consider it strictly an "American dream" by any means. People came up with all sorts of terms and expressions for this concept, but it all boils down to the same thing. Fabian calls himself the "Modern-Day Journeyman." National pollster John Zogby calls it "Globals." I call it "Odyssey."

I spent two hours with Fabian in a colorful café right next to Görlitzer Park. Interesting guy. I wish some more bits of the conversation made it into the post, but alas, I had a word limit. Wie schade!

There is one thing that Fabian said that stuck with me. When I asked him about why he stopped traveling after two years, he said, "I didn't want to become like one of those lost travelers. I'd met a lot of them during that time."

That made me wonder whether my generation was lost. Or maybe, we are just trying to find ourselves again.




'Crossing Borders' With Fabian Sixtus Koerner At TEDxBerlin 6:08 pm Mon November 26, 2012

By Euna Lhee

The day after the TEDxBerlin talks, Fabian Sixtus Körner sits at The Nest, a Kreuzberg café that Körner frequents when he wants to write. He sips his cappuccino and also orders an Apfelschorle, something he missed during his years of travel. This and dark bread, he explains.

To me, Körner symbolizes the "Globals Generation," a term coined by national pollster John Zogby.

Zogby believes the new “American Dream” for 20 and 30- somethings is the accumulation of experience through living and working abroad.

But the concept also goes beyond America, or perhaps it isn’t new at all. In 14th century Germany, there was also the tradition of the journeyman. Tradesmen left their homes and traveled to faraway lands for three years and one day. During this time, they worked for board and lodging, instead of a salary, and then returned home as wiser master craftsmen.

And that’s exactly what Körner did for two years and three months; he worked as a designer, architect, and photographer around the world in places like China, Egypt, and Ethiopia in exchange for food and a couch. Calling himself the “modern day journeyman,” he tells stories of his clothing faux pas as the International Ambassador for Kuala Lumpur Design Week, of the time he protested against an obscure dancing ban in Bangalore, and of how he met his current girlfriend, who is now based in Zimbabwe.

These stories will all be a part of his new book, which is expected to be out in stores throughout Germany next year.

This is also consistent with the tradition, Körner says, as journeymen would have to account their most important experiences to their guild.