Europe as home – Berlin as start

Arturo Bjørklund Winters

As the son of a German father and a Swedish mother, who grew up in France, I was born in Italy. Visiting my family has always taken me all over Europe: my uncle is currently living with his Spanish wife in England (Durham), my Danish aunts in Copenhagen, while my grandfather was living in Paris.

I received my Italian-German Abitur in 2015 at the German School in Milan and thereafter left for Berlin to study. Today, as then, I understand the latter city as one of the European capitals, as well as the cultural and political avant-garde of our continent. At the TU I received my education in “Physical Engineering”. My love for my study specialization, namely thermodynamics (energy theory) and computational mathematics set my future path ahead: I am currently employed as PhD student on thermodynamics and material science at ETH.

Even if my current employment is research, I always was intrigued by the diverse world around me. This curiosity led me to past work experiences in companies, such as an energy consulting company, but mainly I felt and feel the call of community involvement and politics. The most fascinating aspect of this discipline for me is its universality: Every decision must ponder an infinity of aspects.

Fortunately, I have had opportunities to experience these diverse perspectives by holding various positions. In Italy I was active with the Italian Social Democrats (PD) in the school committee of the small commune of Arese. Later, in the Berlin metropolis, I was the chairman of a local SPD association and of the PD Berlin-Brandenburg. Currently, I am vice-president of ETH’s Scientific Staff’s association.

Maybe my belief that the “best solution” is found by pondering different aspects, is the reason why I believe so much in the EU and its motto “united in diversity”. For sure, I have no doubts about which experience of my engagement was the most identity-forming: my role as the Berlin SPD replacement for Gabriele Bischoff 2019–2024. Thus, being again a candidate in Berlin, despite my temporary employment in Zürich, touches me personally and strengthens my sense of belonging to the SPD and this unique city.

As long as I can remember, I was asked where I came from and what nationality I belong to. For a long time, I could not really give the answer: I had to describe my whole family history and my life again and again. Secretly, I envied those who could safely and quickly respond by stating their nationality. Those who knew where they were at home. However, one day I understood that my statement could be short and concise: “I am European.” The need to protect our “House of Europe” against the revival of right-wing and national ideologies has moved me to stand up for this ideal. And let me confess, I call Berlin my hometown.