Yesterday we were able to visit a Waldorf school which was probably one of my favorite things we were able to do on this trip! After visiting the Waldorf school in East Aurora I instantly fell in love with the environment and philosophy of the school. Waldorf schools teach so that the students learn with their head, hearts and hands. I think this philosophy is amazing because to truly learn I personally think you must make a connection what you are learning. Physically doing a task will help students better understand what they're learning and being able to make personal connections will help them retain the information. In the East Aurora Waldorf school, I was placed in a second grade class and yesterday I was placed in a fourth grade classroom. I automatically could see the difference between the grades when I walked in. The second grade classroom had a lot of art throughout the room, there was more singing and the students did many activities on the floor. In fourth grade, we sat through their math class; they were learning about adding and subtracting fractions. The teacher was reviewing the topic and then read a chapter of a story to the students. They sang a song before leaving for handcrafting class. There was a lot of nature in the fourth grade classroom just like the second grade. However, I didn't see as much art throughout the class. You can tell that by fourth grade they start learning more skills they can use academically. We were able to sit in on the music class which was amazing. The students are very talented and we were impressed with their voices.
All the students seemed eager to learn. No child was complaining and too off task during the lesson. After discussing our observations, we all agreed that the students are very confident and determined on their own. They do things such as knitting, wood working and also learn French while learning German and English. I think the students are so confident in themselves and determined because they can see themselves accomplishing things on their own. It's very impressive to see these children have such amazing skills at young ages, they all seemed very happy and "free". I feel like sometimes in schools at home students are way too stressed and aren't allowed to be as creative. After this second visit, I want to visit other Waldorf schools and send my future children to such a school!
Munich was such an amazing city to have the opportunity to visit. I felt very welcomed when we arrived at the hostel and there were free postcards and pretzels waiting for us to grab! The rooms were very cozy and we lucked out with our own private bathroom! We had a nice conversation about the concentration camp we visited on our way to the city, in the lobby. We discussed what parts of the concentration camp that really spoke to us all individually. I personally couldn't get over the fact that the same place I was walking on once contained 200,000 Jewish people. I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that people lost their lives and were tortured on the same stones I was walking on. It was surreal to be actually walking through the camp. We spent so much time throughout school learning about this tragic time in history and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit the camp and see it for myself. It's hard with all the barracks down to believe how many people really were living in the camp. The audio was detailed in explaining everything that went on in each section of the camp; sometimes too much detail.
One thing I appreciated while at the camp was that I didn't see anyone being disrespectful. There were a few people taking selfies with selfie sticks which kind of threw me off, but I was reminded that walking through, we don't know everyone's reason for visiting. You could see the distress in people's faces as they walked around the camp. However, I don't think I or anyone else have ever felt so unsettled until they reached the gas chambers. Walking through I automatically felt complete suffocation and my stomach flipped. As I read the process of moving the people from one room to another, convincing them they were going to get a "shower", I just wanted to cry.
This experience in Munich will be one I will never forget. Even though we didn't have time to view many monumental sites in Munich, I am blessed to have been able to visit the camp. This experience is one that I'm glad I will get to tell my family and friends about.
Never again ❤️
It became very clear when we first arrived in Berlin that we were always going to be on the move! We had so much to see already in the first day; there was a lot to take in. At first the city reminded me of New York City because of the constant rush, subways, and street food. The streets were always busy, you heard live music around every corner and different smells filled the air.
My favorite part about our first day was the Holocaust Memorial. Even from doing research while prepping for Germany I knew it would be one of my favorite things to be able to see. There were children playing on the memorial which I found to be very rude considering it is a memorial. However, since it is in the middle of a city and takes up a whole block, people may not actually know what it sympolizies when they walk by. It was interesting waking through the blocks and really taking the time to appreciate the design of the memorial. It's so important to realize and remember that all the lives lost were different individuals; they weren't all the same, which the artist shows perfectly by this memorial.
While visiting the Jewish Museum, I also walked through another similar memorial; it was called the Garden of Exile. While walking though and listening to the audio, I became uneasy and found it difficult to walk. The slanted floors make you feel like you're struggling to walk up the slant and the cobble stone floors make it uneven. The audio went along great with this Museum because it helped further explain things and the thought process behind the whole set up of the museum. This Museum could've took days to walk through. There was so much information that I did not have the chance to read; it was so well organized and thorough. It was such a great experience to be able to walk through both; to further understand how the Holocaust affected Germany and how they do their best to respect those who lost their lives due to such a tragic time. This is an experience I will carry with me for a life time.
Garden of Exile
The countdown is almost done! In a little over 24 hours I will on my way to Germany for a once in a lifetime adventure. I can't wait to explore Germany, observe in a classroom and finally meet my host! There's been so much preparation happening the last few weeks; finalizing our itenerary, packing and discussing last minute details with my host. I am so excited for the adventures we will be taking on as travel through Germany.
I'm especially excited to see another Waldorf school! After visiting the Aurora Waldorf school here in Buffalo, I've been obsessed with the idea of sending my future children there! Waldorf school allows imagination, creativity and play which some schools are lacking. These schools allow children to be themselves and learn hands on. This is so important since technology is taking over young children's free time these days. I cannot wait to see more while I'm in Germany and be able to take back some strategies to the USA! Here's to an amazing three weeks of exploring Europe!