Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Blog > Postcrossing Spotlight: rainerebert, in the USA!

Earlier this year, we started noticing a lot of tweets about articles featuring Postcrossing, published in newspapers like The Saturday Star in South Africa, or The Citizen in Tanzania… but also in a lot of other publications, from Ethiopia to Bangladesh. Our curiosity was piqued! Turns out, this was the work of Rainer (aka rainerebert), who was doing his best to spread the word about Postcrossing in these “rare countries” by taking the time to interview local postcrossers in each country, and then writing articles with their experiences for all these newspapers. We were in awe of his efforts and enthusiasm (which earned him the Ambassador badge) and decided to interview him for the blog. 😊

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?
Posting a postcard at the Southmore Post Office, Houston, Texas, USA

I have been fascinated by the mail for as long as I can think. All you need is a stamp and your letter or postcard will be carried to (almost) any corner of the world. If you think about the logistics of it, the coordination and agreements between countries and private companies, the technology, and the vast network of planes, helicopters, trains, trucks, cars, boats, ferries, bicycles, and feet required to make the system work, it is simply amazing. I remember, as a child, whenever I went on a trip somewhere with my parents, I sent postcards back home. I wrote to my grandparents, my uncles and aunts, friends, my teachers, and the old lady who ran the little grocery store in my grandparents’ village. I imagined how finding the postcards in their mailboxes would put smiles on their faces. My postcards often arrived back home long after I did, but that did not matter. What I wanted is for the people back home to have a physical token that proves I was thinking about them while I was away.

This fascination for the mail persists to this day, and I got hooked immediately when I came across Postcrossing in 2015. How I came across Postcrossing, I do not remember, but I probably googled something related to the mail.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

I am curious about the world, and I love to travel! To date, I have had the privilege to visit about fifty countries. A distant dream is to have visited all of them someday. If I can make it at least halfway to achieving that dream, I think I will be satisfied.

My greatest adventure so far was a three-month motorcycle ride with friends in 2011, from my hometown of Adelmannsfelden in Southwest Germany to Cape Town in South Africa. We covered a total of approximately 13,000 km (or 8077 miles), crossing twelve countries: Germany, Austria, Italy, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa. We made many friends along the way, and we found that Africa is home to some of the world’s warmest and most welcoming people. I have written about the motorcycle trip here, and here, hoping to inspire others to go and make friends in Africa as well.

Rainer in the Sahara Desert in Sudan in 2011
Rainer in the Sahara Desert in Sudan in 2011

There is much to learn and experience on all continents, but I am particularly fond of Africa and I think more people from other parts of the world should travel there. Too often, people think of Africa as if it was a single country, rife with disease, poverty, hopelessness, and corruption. This tiring image is at best misleading, and has little to do with reality! In fact, Africa is all but monolithic, and arguably the most diverse continent of all. Africa is full of hope, joy, and energy, and incredibly rich in history, culture, language, food, wildlife, and natural beauty.

I have been trying to capture some of the beauty of Africa, and the other places I have been to, with my camera, and photography has become another hobby of mine. You can see some of my photos on my website.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your post office or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

Besides Germany, where I was born and raised, there are three more places that I consider home: Texas, where I live and went to graduate school, Bangladesh, where I have family and friends and try to go once or twice every year, and Tanzania, where I taught philosophy at the University of Dar es Salaam from 2017 to 2019. I have sent postcards from all of these places.

University Hill Post Office, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
University Hill Post Office, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
My PO box at the University Hill Post Office, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
My PO box at the University Hill Post Office, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

In Tanzania, my post office is the University Hill Post Office in Dar es Salaam, where I still have a PO box. I went there so often that the two nice ladies working there, Leah and Winnie, treat me like family. The same is true for Romana, who works at the Jigatola Post Office in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s bustling capital. I will print copies of this interview and mail them to Leah, Winnie, and Romana! I hope they will be inspired to help promote Postcrossing in their communities, and maybe even join Postcrossing themselves.

Jigatola Post Office, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Jigatola Post Office, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Whenever I go to Bangladesh or Tanzania, I try to send as many postcards as I can, as both countries are sadly still underrepresented on Postcrossing. In Texas, the post office closest to where I live is the Southmore Post Office, where I usually go with my bicycle to send greetings from Houston to wherever the Postcrossing website tells me to send them!

My bicycle in front of the Southmore Post Office, Houston, Texas, USA
My bicycle in front of the Southmore Post Office, Houston, Texas, USA
Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

Each postcard is as unique and special as the person who wrote it. But if I have to pick one postcard, I will pick the one and only one I got from Hungary, in 2016 (HU-111390).

Postcard from Hungary HU 111390
Postcard from Hungary, HU-111390

It is special to me because my grandmother was born in Baranyajenő in Hungary, and lived there until being expelled by the Hungarian government in June 1946. She then had to start her life all over again in Germany… When I was nine years old, our whole family went to visit my grandmother’s village home in Hungary, and the postcard brought back good memories of that trip.

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

There are not many Postcrossers in Bangladesh and Tanzania, so whenever I go to these countries I try to convince new people to join, with some success. I especially encourage my students to join, as I think Postcrossing is a wonderful way to learn, about other cultures and places.

Postcards I have sent from Tanzania via Postcrossing
Postcards I have sent from Tanzania via Postcrossing

A few months ago, I spoke to some of the most active Postcrossers in Bangladesh and Tanzania, and also in Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Africa, to find out what keeps people in these countries from joining Postcrossing. One reason that I was given again and again is cost. Postage rates are relatively high, which is very unfortunate, as those living in low-income countries rarely have the opportunity to travel abroad and would benefit the most from exchanging postcards with people in other countries. My conversations with these Postcrossers were published in a number of newspapers in their respective countries, and I hope some readers were inspired by my articles to join.

Is there anything that you are passionate about?
Rainer s PhD graduation at Rice University in Texas in 2016

I am a moral philosopher by profession, and I believe that philosophers should not confine themselves to the ivory tower, but spend at least some of their time actively working to achieve a broader presence of philosophy in public life. Philosophy can make a meaningful contribution to society, not least in that it can help people to think more clearly and critically about important social and policy issues.

I try to do my part and apply philosophy in the columns that I regularly write for newspapers around the globe. I have written on topics such as same-sex marriage, homophobia, transgender rights, veganism and animal rights, everyday racism, anti-refugee sentiment, open borders, religious tolerance, free speech and censorship, capital punishment, children’s rights, illiberal populism, and effective altruism. A common theme of much of my writing is the importance of individual freedom, about which I am particularly passionate.

on

Tags: , , ,

54 comments so far

riapons11, Netherlands
Great story, thanks for sharing!
on


MerlinM, Germany
I like the story very much. Thank you for sharing with us.
on


TanyaOtt, Germany
What a great interview! I have family in Houston, and having visited there several times, I can only think how unusual Rainer must look on his bicycle in a city where seemingly everyone drives a car!
on


ezredax, United States of America
Amazing story! Would love to travel more. Enjoy the day! Demaris
on


bigred398, Canada
It was very interesting to read about the places you have travelled. I have just joined and await my first post card. I love to travel as well, and when we go some place different we send ourself a card home as well. This way we still have the great memories.
on


dotsiisu, Ghana
Awesome story 💛
on


Wyolady, United States of America
I love your story - very similar to mine about the mail - love getting and love sending. I see that you ride a BMW? My husband has two but hasn't had the international rides. Are you a BMWMOA member?

charbusk@gmail.com
on


duck2006, Germany
Awesome!
on


mounten, Italy
Wow what an amazing story keep on going.
on


maud560, Netherlands
What an amazing spotlight about such an interesting person! I hope he will achieve his dream of visiting every country in the world.
on


nicetry, Germany
Very good idea to spread the idea to those countries. We definitely need to learn more about them, their history and culture; and their nature would certainly look great on cards. :)
on


firstdi, United States of America
I love your photographs
on


mysweetlife63, United States of America
Impressive! Thank you for sharing!
on


greenskull, Russia
I ❤❤❤ Postcrossing!
on


juliakay, United States of America
A fascinating story about a fascinating person. I haven't received any cards from anywhere in Africa yet, but I'm sure that one day it will happen! Thank you for this!
on


Chenoah, Germany
What an interesting and beautiful person! I love the interview.
on


sacdalton, United States of America
What an inspiring story. May you add the fifty or more countries to you traveled list so that you can continue to spread your good word.
on


InTheDoghouse, United States of America
What a great story! Thanks for being a Postcrossing ambassador.
on


Hawwa, Spain
It was a joy to read this interview.
on


Cassisia, Germany
I enjoyed reading it too. Thanks for sharing the story, the photos and the spirit of Postcrossing with us! 😊
on


Jesterday, Netherlands
Thanks for sharing, keep living the good life! 🌸
on


GayeDoreen, United States of America
Wonderful! I learned about Postcrossing from a clerk at Wild Birds Unlimited. Going on 3 years now. Love it!!!! 😃
on


mapa, Belgium
Great story! Interesting life!
on


ned44440, Ireland
Wonderful and inspiring story. Keep up the good work.
on


Ashby48, United Kingdom
Heart-warming and inspiring story. Thank you for penning it for us. Now to look at your photos!
on


PilotOne, Portugal
Fantastic stories and a nice card received from Rainer in 2017.
https://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/US-4913376
on


bertcarson, United States of America
I don't read every blog post I cross paths with, so I'm really grateful that didn't miss this one. To say Rainer is an inspiration would not only be an overused cliche, it would be totally inadequate. This post is always special, today it is BIG TIME SPECIAL - how's that for an overlooked cliche? Don't miss Rainer's photos - here, https://rainerebert.com/photos/ and on flickr - that alone is worth this trip - Thanks
on


Gen24, United States of America
Amazing story! Thank you for all you do, Rainer!
on


Giansa, Italy
Incredible story!! I like it!!!🏍️🏍️🖖🏻
on


Flippie, Canada
Thank you for sharing your story. I enjoyed it.
on


estersplinter, Netherlands
It was a joy to read your story! Thanks for sharing it. Keep up the good work!
on


betslets, United States of America
Postcrossing certainly has some amazing members. . . and it's also fun to "meet" someone through the blog that has an address fairly close to mine. I especially admire Rainer's energy and enthusiasm. What a great Ambassador for all of us. Thank you for another wonderful interview.
on


Gummu, India
So fascinating! Your story as well as the fact that you pointed out all the amazing things that work together to get the mail done. Such a great read, Postcrossing, and inspiring :).
on


Geminiscp, Portugal
What an interesting story! :) Thanks for spreading the Postcrossing amazing experience from all over the world! :)
on


Demmi, Romania
Impressive & Inspiring!!!
Thanks and good luck in future adventures!
Stay Safe & Healthy
... and keep sending postcards!
on


CharmaineZ, South Africa
I am from South Africa and have been privileged to correspond with Rainer as he did an interview with a couple of us for his newspaper interviews. He is such a warm person and I love the fact that he is crazy about Africa and her people. We are often judged by the world media and he is one of the few people that sees us for who we are. I love his quoted text: "Africa is full of hope, joy, and energy, and incredibly rich in history, culture, language, food, wildlife, and natural beauty" and "Africa is home to some of the world’s warmest and most welcoming people" I would like to invite all of you, whenever the world returns to normal and travelling is allowed, please come visit us and see for yourself. Or I may just get to send you a postcard. Thank you Rainer, it was lovely to meet you. Happy travels
on


NIDUSKA, Finland
Thank you
on


liesbeth_france, France
Indeed Rainer, mail is fascinating. Still today in 2020. Imagine what it would have been like 200 years ago to receive a letter in Europe from a family member who had emigrated to America! That must have been magical. Receiving colourful mail is always a joy in the day. Even more so during the lockdown. La Poste kept their services running a few days a week. And I thank them for it.
on


Bluebirds1, United Kingdom
I think Rainer is correct about the mass perception of Africa, but he knows differently and says how it truly is.Fascinating insight, thank you.
on


PedroSantos, Portugal
I like this story. Good job.
on


bayernfabio, Germany
hello Rainer and Ana,
thank you the very interesting interview, and all the best to you and your loved ones! Birgit
on


Luziaceleste, Brazil
And all these things are possible due to travel mode, well, of course this special motivations from Rainer counts a lot, but till few years ago, this would not be enough.
on


alison41, South Africa
What a wonderful story and how unusual to find a traveler writing such complimentary things about Africa. He is absolutely correct on all the points he raises. He gets my vote for Ambassador of the year, 2020!
on


rssr56, United States of America
This was a lovely piece about a fascinating and intelligent person! Very uplifting to read. Thanks for the bounce for the day.
on


Myrake, Belgium
Thanks Rainer for sharing your life with us!
Very lovely pictures on your website.
Wishing you and your loved ones all the best in these horable corona times.
on


Sprinkledonut, Canada
Such an inspiring profile and person! Thank you, Rainer. Your motorcycle trip across Africa sounds quite EPIC!! Hope you come to meet lots more interesting and kind folks in the countries still on your list to visit. Where will you go next?
on


pucky, Netherlands
Such an interesting story! What a wonderful things you have done/are doing and your photo's are amazing!
Thank you!
on


triplightly, United States of America
I would love it if we had a postcrossing fund where we could donate a few dollars to help people around the world have money for postage. Possibly through Venmo, maybe? If you come up with a way, post it. I bet a bunch of us would contribute. We just need the venue.
on


syl, Germany
Thanks for sharing your life with us, great story and wonderful pictures :)
Best wishes to you!
on


srwtm060, Thailand
Thank you for sharing the wonderful story with us.
on


Pacomole, France
Thank you for this experience and this source of philosophical inspiration, rooted in reality. Wonderful website and photos.
on


cerres, Estonia
Thank you! I love this way of traveling and whole story.
on


MissiveMaven, United States of America
Wow! This is so cool!
on


rainerebert, United States of America
Thank you for interviewing me, dear Ana! It was a real pleasure talking to you. And many thanks to everyone who left a comment. I’m glad you liked my story, and I’m happy to be part of such a positive and uplifting community.

If anybody would like to surprise the good people working at my favorite post offices in Tanzania and Bangladesh with a postcard, send me a message and I’ll give you the addresses.

Triplightly suggested we start a fund to help people in low-income countries with postage for Postcrossing (see her comment above). I think that’s a wonderful idea! For example, we could organize Postcrossing events at schools in such countries, and provide students with postcards and stamps. If anybody is interested in exploring this idea with me, please send me a WhatsApp message at +1 469-657-7455. Thank you.

@TanyaOtt: You’re very right about cycling in Houston. It’s quite an “adventure”! Let me know next time you’re in town. It’d be nice to meet for a coffee.

@bigred398: Welcome to the Postcrossing community! I hope you’ve received your first postcard by now.

@dotsiisu: Thank you again for helping me with my article about Postcrossing in The Spectator, and thank you for the important work you do teaching underprivileged kids in your community. Please convey my warm regards to them. If you send me your address, I’d be happy to send them a postcard from Texas!

@Wyolady: That’s right! I ride a BMW R1150GS. I’m not a member of BMWMOA, as my motorbike is in Germany, unfortunately.

@maud560: Thank you! Still many countries to go…

@nicetry: Absolutely! There’s so much we can learn from other cultures, religions, and traditions.

@juliakay: Fingers crossed that you’ll receive your first postcard from Africa soon!

@PilotOne: That card shows Heidelberg in Germany, which is where I did my undergraduate degree. Good memories! Thank you. I hope you’re doing well, and keeping safe.

@bertcarson: Thank you for your very kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed my photos.

@betslets: I see you’re in Victoria, Texas. If you ever make it to Houston, please let me know. It’d be nice to meet a fellow Postcrosser for a coffee.

@CharmaineZ: It’s so good to hear from you. Thank you again for answering my questions for that newspaper article. Thank you also for being such a great ambassador for your fantastic continent! I hope you’re keeping safe, and I wish you all the best, always.

@liesbeth_france: I can only imagine what it must have felt like to receive a letter from far away 200 years ago. I just visited the National Postal Museum in Washington, DC, and learned a lot about the fascinating history of the post office in the United States. I highly recommend the museum, in case you’re ever in DC!

@Bluebirds1: It’s sad that so many people have such a distorted view of Africa, and that is exactly why traveling is so important, if one is lucky enough to be able to afford it.

@alison41: Thank you! That’s very kind. But I think the real ambassadors are people like you, Africa’s Postcrossers.

@Sprinkledonut: Thank you! I’m not sure where I’ll go next. But I’ve been wanting to go on a bicycle trip through Africa for a long time. Subscribe to my blog at https://rainerebert.com/blog/ if you’d like to know where I’ll end up…

@triplightly: I think that’s a wonderful idea! Maybe we can make that happen. If you’d like to explore the possibility, please send me a WhatsApp message at +1 469-657-7455. I’m in touch with Postcrossing societies in Bangladesh and Tanzania, and I bet they’d be happy to work with us on this.

I’m sorry I didn’t respond to everyone, but please know that I really enjoyed reading through all the comments! Thank you, and happy Postcrossing!
on


Back to top

Leave a reply

You need to sign in to leave a comment!