November 9th, 2009
05:26 PM ET

An old man, an angry crowd and the Berlin Wall

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/11/09/berlin.wall.anniversary/c1main.berlin.wall.afp.gi.jpg caption="World leaders gathered in the German capital Monday to mark 20 years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall." width=416 height=234]

Sean Yates
AC360° Senior Producer

Before I was a TV producer, or had even thought about making journalism a career, I was a 20-year old exchange student in England spending a semester abroad at Reading University, outside London.

My friends and I had started the weekend early and we were on a Friday morning train, heading from London to the beach in Brighton, when the businessman across from me opened his newspaper with the headline, “Berlin Wall Falls”.

I slumped in my seat to get an angle to read the details of his paper until finally in a very proper, and very annoyed, British accent he said, “Would you like to read my paper?” (It still makes me laugh thinking about it.)

At the next stop I got off the train, headed back to London, threw some clothes in my backpack and flew to Berlin with no idea where I was going to stay or what I was going to do but I recognized a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of history.

One memory stands out.