The event, billed as a conversation with Obama and Merkel at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, on the topic of “Being Involved in Democracy: Taking on Responsibility Locally and Globally,” is scheduled for Thursday.
The German Protestant Kirchentag, a forum and a festival that attracts thousands, is sponsoring the event with the Obama Foundation as part of celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the foundation said.
The two Chicago-area women are participating in an exchange program between Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side and a Protestant organization in Germany.
They include Sierra Sims, 24, of Dolton, a social studies teacher at Providence Englewood Charter Schooland a congregant at Trinity United Church of Christ, the foundation said. Sims, who attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is pursuing a master’s degree from DePaul University in educational leadership, also is a volunteer tutor and mentor to youth, the foundation said.
Imani Abernathy, 26, of Chicago, a musician and singer who graduated from Denison University with a bachelor’s degree in music and theater, also will attend the event in Germany, the foundation said. Abernathy, a congregant at Trinity, has trained with The American Theater Wing and now works at SMS Assist, a property management company, the foundation said.
“I believe that, to be a good citizen, you need to know what’s going on in the world and try to do your part,” Abernathy said in a recording released by the foundation.
She said she encourages people to think small and not just fixate on “the biggest thing.” She said that can include being involved with a community garden or helping someone on the street.
“Maybe if you affect one person, then it’s another person and another person,” Abernathy said. “Try to make a difference whatever way you can.”
Two German participants include Benedikt Wichtlhuber, a 21-year-old student from Mannheim, Germany, who studies Information Technology, the foundation said. He will be studying abroad at Northeastern Illinois University beginning in September, the foundation said.
Filiz-Marleen Kuyucu, a 25-year-old social worker from Mannheim who does consulting for refugees and helps them with their administrative procedures upon arrival, also is scheduled to attend the event, the foundation said.