Romy Hübler understands why there are a lot of misconceptions about her kindheit—
or childhood—in Communist East Germany. She grew up in the small mining town of Borna in the years preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
And while she admits some of those assumptions are valid, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have fond memories. “I would spend a lot of time with my dad out in the park riding bikes in the spring or sledding in the winter. We lived in a very small but very tight-knit community,” she says.
In summer 2022, Hübler came to TU as the new director of the Office of Civic Engagement & Social Responsibility. But she is still relatively new to the country, arriving in the United States as an immigrant in 2005.
When packing for her new life, she wanted to bring a few items that kept her connected to home. This included hand puppets that belonged to her grandfather, who used them to entertain kids in her coal mining town, and the only doll she had during her childhood.
Growing up about 30 minutes outside of Leipzig, one of the country’s largest cities, Hübler didn’t have a lot of toys. She vividly remembers visiting her first Toys “R” Us in 1991, when she was 10. “Everything was pink,” she says, laughing. “I don’t think I had seen pink in my life. I was just amazed that everything, from Barbies to roller skates, was this bright pink color.”
Her doll’s clothes also have a special meaning since her grandmother Margarethe knitted them. In fact, that’s something Hübler has in common with the doll. Her grandmother knitted a lot of her clothing as a child, as it was hard to find the right size.
“My grandma knits clothing for me to this day, and I have a lot of scarves, hats and socks to prove it,” Hübler says. “But I held onto that doll because it reminds me of my humble childhood and how important my family is to me.”