This is the last camp standing that housed prisoners during this time. This camp was not a death camp however, many people did die here. I decided to get the audio guide to learn more as I was walking through the camp. The holocaust as been an topic of interest for several years now, I took a class in high school and learned a great amount of information as well as visiting the holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.. Being on site is like nothing I have ever experienced before, the feeling is very powerful. There are two parts of the camp; the museum and the building. In the museum there are different documents and stories of several prisoners, as well as a few items that were found and what they were used for, several pictures of the prisoners, and what happened throughout a day there. Standing in the courtyard, knowing that is where roll call was held two times a day, created this chilling feeling all throughout my body. The roll call would happen in the morning before work and once at night. If someone were to die during the day, their body had to be taken to roll call because then the camp could report the body to the government as present. Eventually the prisoners were getting sick, weak, and even dying due to malnourishment. There was a doctor on site, however, the doctor said the more the die, the better. This was said because then the camp didn't have to provide for the prisoner anymore and then the camp would get new, stronger prisoners to work. When a prisoner was sick, depending on their condition, they would often sit in the doctors office to wait to die or the prisoner was poisoned. What I found was interesting is the record of items each person brought in. There were a few instances the prisoner was released and given back all of their items. If the person died, the possessions became property of the government.
I have two words to say about the Black Forest…breath taking!! Driving through the mountains into the forest was one of the best parts. You are able to see the forest at different levels and views. Once we arrived at the museum we got to explore and learn about houses that were built in the 1600s. The design and set up of the houses were simply amazing and ingenious. It showed how smart the people were and how their lives depended on it. There were several factors that went into thinking about how the house was built and where things went. For example, the family lived with the animals within the same building. This helped to heat the house on cold winter days. Also, the food storage room was built separate of the house, this was to ensure the safety of the food if the house ever caught fire. The people then would only make or harvest food once a month, if anything happened to it then it could possibly mean death for them.
We often had to take the train to get places and well it wasn't always with our expert John. So we quickly had to learn how it worked and try to remember the German name of our stop. We remembered our stop by making it sound like a TV show or something we were familiar with. There are two trains; the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn. These were in different places, so if we had to transfer from one to the other we had to go to a different platform or even up to the road, down the road, up a flight of stairs just to get to the next train. I cannot even explain how much time we spent on trying to figure out what was the best way to go somewhere and then trying to figure out if it was correct! We figured we would get on a train going one way and if it was in the wrong direction that we could just get off at the next stop and hop on the next train in the other direction. Eventually we became experts! Its amazing how fast you'll learn something when your life depends on it!
Teaching- The school systems are set up completely differently than it is in the states. For example, elementary school goes from kindergarten to fourth grade. The elementary school I went to had their days broken up into periods. The student wouldn't have the same classes every day. The classroom I was in had english class every Tuesday and Wednesday for forty five minutes. This is how the rest of their classes were also. The students also took religion in class and learned about Judaism and christianity. Also, the desks and the classroom set up was over all different. The students say at tables with their book bag next to them with all of their items in it. The teachers moved rooms and the students generally stayed in one place unless they took a special class that required them to move. Also, after every period the students had a five minute break where they could get up, walk around, and go in the hall and do what they wish. Then they are also given a fifteen minute break during the day, the students ate a snack during this time or they were able to go into the courtyard and play. The students don’t eat lunch in the school because their school day only goes until about 1pm.
After elementary school the student then goes to one of three schools. The three types of schools are broken up into the different skills and content the student will then learn for their career.
"(1) Gymnasium for bright students headed for college, (2) Realschule for the next step down, kids headed for average or better white-collar positions, and (3) Hauptschule for the bottom tier, generally aimed at the trades and blue-collar jobs. By the age of 10 most pupils in Germany have been put on one of these three educational tracks. Although it is possible to switch tracks, this is not very common."
My Teaching Experience in a 3rd grade class- I was able to teach the students about the 4th of July. I felt this was an appropriate topic because July 4th just past while I was there. I read the class a book about our traditions in the United States for the 4th of July, the teacher checked for understanding because the class had limited english skills. Surprisingly the students were able to use context clues from the pictures and words they knew to figure out what the book was talking about. Then, the class made a “liberty hat” which was patriotic obviously. The students were so excited to make this hat, which made me excited! I cut paper plates in half, cut out triangles for the spikes, and then bought foam sticky decorative pieces they could use. Some students colored their paper plate while others got very creative with the stickers and spikes.
I did not have one meal I didn't like throughout the trip. I was very open to try new and interesting things that I may not have in the states, because after all I was in Germany! One interesting thing I found was that french fries were often seasoned with a light curry and salt combination, then for a dipping sauce they would use mayonnaise and ketchup…yes I said mayonnaise. When I first saw this I questioned it and thought to myself…mayonnaise is for hamburgers, sandwiches, and macron salad! But after looking around I saw it was a thing, so I figured I’d give it a go. It turned out to be pretty good!!
I enjoy fish fries, so I had to try the fish and chips! Which was very delicious and very different than home. The breading was slightly thicker and crunchier. I know Germany is not known for their fish and chips, but after all I was closer to Britain so I thought it was a good try.
Sausage! So many kinds and everywhere you could think of. If you go out to eat and can’t read the menu, it was always a safe bet to get the sausage! It was interesting to me how many restaurants had so many possible dishes they had with sausage.
Traditional breakfast- a roll, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese and meat. Fruit, yogurt and cereal were also common options. At first I wasn't sure what to do with the roll. Do I put jelly on it, do I make a sandwich out of it with he meat and cheese selection, do I just eat it how it is? After eating breakfast for a few days I kind of figured it just depended on your mood for that day.
Bread and pretzels! There are pretzels everywhere, most restaurants sell them and generally most meals come with some type of bread. For example, a salad came with a nice size piece of bread on the side.
Overall, I have to say everything was great and you can rarely go wrong ordering something from the menu...which was generally interesting because there weren't always menus translated in english!
Berlin wall- this is only a short section of the wall that still stands. We walked along the wall to the other end. As I was walking along the wall I felt that it was very long, then I realized that was actually only a very little section of the wall compared to what it once was. Seeing this and walking along the wall it puts the reality of the past and the east and west side into perspective. Also, the sides were very different as you may guess. The west side was the free side that was graffitied. The east side of the wall was painted by different artists. It was divided up into sections as as you walk along the wall you can see the story each artist wanted to tell. Also, if you look close enough you can see the bullet holes. This is such a huge part of Germany’s history and it is truly a sight to see.
Today was my 3rd day in Berlin. I think it is safe to say this is the most I have walked in a very long time! However, it was very much worth it. The group got to see some schools along the way. I found the playgrounds to be very different than the ones we typically see back in Buffalo. The playgrounds here were more focused on the child exploring with more basic things, requiring them to work on their gross motor skills.
John is an amazing tour guide, with lots of goals in mind for each day (which is great because it keeps us on task and not so distracted by taking pictures of all sorts of stuff). We were able to see and learn about most of the major parts of Berlin…all in three days. On the down side I do not remember all of the buildings names, however, I can tell you what happens at the building, the purpose of it is for or how Germany acquired it. I am slightly disappointed in myself for forgetting the names, but in my defense I learned a lot in a short period of time!
The culture and atmosphere of Berlin is so different than I have experienced before. I was expecting this but not to this extent. Experiencing this just opens the mind, to new possibilities of the “norm” for other people. I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Most of what I know is apologizing for everything, laughing and talking whenever we want or can for that matter, and all of the cars. I believe it is safe to say that I have seen more bicycles than vehicles throughout my whole time in Germany. This is such a healthy life style that more should live by. Healthy for the environment and our bodies!
Food! All of the food I have eaten has been delicious. I have tried mayonnaise and ketchup on currywurst (sausage) and french fires. When I saw this, my immediate thought was gross! However, I came to Germany with an open mind and decided to try it…and it was amazing!
I am looking forward to the time I will be able to spend within the schools, working with the kids, and experiencing first hand the way their education system is set up.
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Till next time.