Reporters on the Job

• STRAINED HOSPITALITY: It was a sign of the destitution of the migrant workers interviewed in Ben Lynfield's story (this page) that they were not able to offer up a chair or the black coffee that is an integral part of the Palestinian ritual of receiving guests. "Nor were they able to extend their characteristic hospitality by offering fruits," says Ben.

"A few days later, however, my host for a story in a southern West Bank town – a fruit farmer – sat behind two large piles of plums and said: 'I'll give you as many plums as you want, but you have to go pick them.' Due to Israel's strict military closure, the plum farmers in that town cannot get their produce to market, Ben explains, so much of the fruit is left on the trees.

• CHILDHOOD MEMORIES: In reporting a story on efforts to lift low birth rates in Germany (page 1), reporter Isabelle de Pommereau thought of how different her own family's situation is back home in her native France – and how different approaches to childrearing can be.

Isabelle grew up with six siblings, and all of her brothers and sisters now have at least four children. "And they don't hesitate to leave them at a friend's house or in day care – which Germans rarely do," says Isabelle. "In Germany, there is a tendency to believe that it's not good to leave your child anywhere. It's just a different mentality."

The other big contrast? Size. "A family with four children – you just don't find that here in Germany," says Isabelle.

– Margaret Henry

Europe editor

Cultural snapshot

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