The wife of the government official
A fascinating glance at the life of Germany's First Lady Elke Büdenbender during the pandemic, her roles as the First Lady and her life as the wife of the head of state.
Elke Büdenbender has been Germany's First Lady since March 2017. In the annual meeting with Willkommen in Berlin (WiB), she spoke about her life at Bellevue Palace in Berlin. The event was the last WiB meeting for this club year and was held virtually due to the ongoing Corona global pandemic. Büdenbender's life has also been affected. "Of course I miss traveling and seeing people, but I continue to stay in touch with colleagues by phone and through online meetings."
People shaping society
Close contact to people is important to Büdenbender. “To me, the best gift of my job is meeting many wonderful and impressive people, learning from their stories - the good and the unfortunate ones, and discovering many great initiatives that shape our society." Olivia Nikel, a journalist and longtime WiB member, led the conversation and asked about the difficulties Büdenbender's faced in her current job. Büdenbender explained: "I haven't encountered difficult moments, but maybe the challenging ones. It's like starting a new job. You just have to get used to it, especially when it comes to public life. However, it is rewarding when those challenges are overcome.”
Büdenbender was a judge for many years and takes a leave of absence while her husband is in office. Her return to the bench is depending on whether her husband will be reelected for another five years. "I do miss my old job, but I also love my present job very much.” Working closely with her husband, Elke Büdenbender enjoys spending much more time with him. "I find that he is a good partner in discussions concerning professional issues. I learn a lot from him and at the same time he finds that it enriching when I share my point of view with him. We like discussing things."
Education, a path to a good and happy life
In addition to innovative projects such as the “Kaffeetafel,” that the presidential couple initiated in order to bring people from very different backgrounds together, education is Büdenbender’s passion. "I fight for equal opportunities for every child. We can not afford to lose even one of them," she says. In Germany, she wants to underline particularly the importance of vocational educational training. She believes, that it is a “university” that serves as “a guiding path to a good and happy life”.
The power of connecting
Being a spouse of an official is an experience that Büdenbender has in common with many WiB members. During the question and answer session, everyone was glad to share experiences on this matter. Büdenbender highlighted the skill of networking. “I have learned that the power of connecting with people is very important especially for women.” Supporting one another is one of the main objectives of WiB, just like friendship and solidarity. Surely these goals will be achieved more easily at the next annual meeting at Bellevue Palace when we hopefully can meet again in person”.