The last few days of the fellowship were busy. It was sad to say goodbye to the kids and my host. My hosts and I went to the Baltic sea as a farewell trip. It was so fun! I'll be sure to keep in touch with my hosts, and hopefully with the kids as well. It was a really great 4 weeks.
So, my third week included lots more English lessons. I visited the 6th grade class and did a few "question and answer" sessions with them, mostly about their personal interests, myself, and the USA. Then I helped the teacher with her English lesson that she'd planned for the day. In my own 3rd grade class, the 3c, I have been helping with math assignments and other daily activities as well as English. Its lots of fun.
On our third research day, we visited some sights of the "Biennale", a contemporary art festival in Berlin. The exhibitions were strange but interesting. Some were far-out and ridiculous, others were pretty assessable.
On the weekend, I went out with the others from the program to a bar called Cafe Zapata. We had a good time listening to the band, discovering art exhibitions and dance floors hidden in the several different floors, and just sitting outside by the fire and chatting. On Saturday, I went to another art opening with my hostess and her husband. It was for his sister, and was fun. There was cake, so that's always a plus. :)
After that, we went to Brandenburger Tor to see Christopher Street Day, the gay pride celebration in Berlin. It was really awesome! As we parked the car, my hosts and a friend got out and heard a distant roar coming from the Tiergarten, a city park in Berlin. My friend and I looked at each other and thought it was a loud airplane or bulldozer or I don't know what. Then my hosts said that that was the festival. When we got through the park onto the street, we saw a parade, all with big loud floats blasting dance music, and a huge concert at B. Tor. People were in costumes, and it was just great. Christopher Street day is big in Berlin, even the wikepedia site has pictures of Berlin on it. Look:
The Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, is out and proud himself and made the opening address which we unfortunately did not see. On the way home, I saw one of the government buildings flying a rainbow flag, which shows how Berlin not only accepts but also supports its gay and lesbian citizens.
Wowereit is known for his comment, "Bin schwul, und das ist gut so"
"I am gay, and that is good."
This week has been busy. The theater festival at the school is now over, so I have had a chance to see some classroom learning. I gave my first lesson in English, and it went very well! I talked about where America is, where Minnesota is, and passed around an American flag and a Minnesota flag. I also brought a map of MN with pictures of different historical buildings and animals and things. Then the kids had to find things on the map and say them in English. Then I brought a CD with a really cool song on it that the kids could act out. I typed out the lyrics and printed them out for each child so they could sing along. It was really fun! I think they really enjoyed it. I did the same lesson with the other two third grade classes as well.
On Tuesday the kids had swimming class, which was a blast. Then on wednesday we had a talk at the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation. It was about forced marriages; namely among Turkish and Arabic immigrants in Berlin. It turned into a heated discussion about immigration and national identity in Germany. It was interesting but also frustrating.
Today was our second research day. We went on a museum tour in three different museums: Akadamie der Kunst, a museum about physical disabilities, and the Martin Gropius Bau, which had an awesome exhibit with installations. Awesome. I'll post the photos someday when I actually get this blog together. :) I got in a little trouble while taking the photos! oops!
Tomorrow after work there is a birthday BBQ for one of the teachers at the school (who is also a dear friend of my hostess). I'm looking froward to it. Tomorrow is also the opener of the World Cup. Everyone is really excited. I hope to spend the rest of the weekend with my friends and my boyfriend.
So, our first excursion was to a tie factory in Kreuzberg. It seemed like an odd thing to do at first but was actually quite fun and interesting. Afterward the group all went out for a drink. It was a good chance to get to know each other better.
Today we had out first research day. It was near the Gendamenmarkt in Mitte. We discussed our research projects with Dr. Suhr, who was very friendly and helpful. Then we all had a picnic in Tiergarten, a very nice park in Berlin that is kind of like central park in New York. The weather was wonderful!!! We did a little sightseeing in the afternoon, and sat in the sun at a beach bar on the Spree river until late afternoon. It was a nice day.
I arrived with my host family on Saturday. My hosts, Birgit and Gerhard, picked me up from the train station in the early afternoon. On the way to the house, we picked up some fresh asparagus and strawberries from a roadside stand. We came back and got all settled in. We sat outside in the yard and had coffee and cake and chatted for a while. Then we took the dog for a walk in the nearby woods. It was so peaceful! I'm looking forward to going jogging there sometime. We came back and cooked our asparagus and chicken and potatoes for dinner, with strawberries for dessert. The weather was so nice that we ate outside. After dinner, we went to the Französische Buchholz (our part of Berlin) Spring Festival with some neighbors. The neighbors were really friendly, and we all had a good time. We got home late, and stayed up to see the results of the Eurovision Song Contest. We watched and waited as the points came in for Germany. At about 12:30, we found out that Germany won! The singer, Lena, is now a big-time superstar in Europe. Pretty exciting first day!
The next day was Sunday, and we all slept in and took it easy. We had a late breakfast, drank coffee, and spent the afternoon working and chatting. My hosts have a super-awesome coffee machine (as the Europeans do). You just push a button and out comes any kind of coffee that you want- regular or espresso. In the late afternoon, we went to the USA Goes to Berlin welcome barbecue. It was fun to see the other students and their families. Afterward, we took a little car ride through Charlottenberg, another borough of Berlin. I saw the Charlottenberg castle, something I had always meant to see but never did while I was living here. It was quite lovely! I'd like to go inside sometime as well. It wasn't open on Sunday, and it was rainy, so it wouldn't have been very nice to walk around in the gardens even. Maybe next weekend.
Today is Monday, and it was my first day at school. The children think that I don't speak German, so that I can speak as much English with them as possible. We'll see how well that works out, as they've already caught me a couple of times! The kids and the other teachers were all very friendly. I've seen so many new faces and learned so many new names, I don't think I'll ever remember them at all! It was a very busy first day, and as Birgit and I came home we were both totally wiped out. We stopped by the vegetable market on the way home and had intended on making a vegetable stir-fry tonight, but both of us were so tired that we decided that we'd order Chinese for dinner instead. We can make stir-fry another day. :)