The days and weeks are going to fly by in September, considering the busy schedule the Bukas have during our introductory seminar. There are many highlights from the last seven days, so I have a few days of posts ahead of me in order to catch you all up on happenings in Germany.
Last week we started with a conference meeting in Bonn, consisting of a keynote address on climate change, several nice meals at a hotel, and most importantly, presentations by all the Bukas on their projects…in German! We were all very nervous about presenting in German, especially for those who had only begun learning German in May or June of this year. I think everyone was pleased with their presentations. Many fellows had their German hosts in attendance; my host was unfortunately unable to make the trip. Everyone was exhausted at the end of day.
Thankfully we all had the morning free on Tuesday. Despite this, one of my fellow Bukas and I had to wake up early to take care of some errands, including taking care of something at my future apartment, going to the bank, and getting some train tickets for an upcoming trip at the end of the month!
In the afternoon we traveled to the Ruhr region (north of Bonn, including the cities of Dortmund, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, etc.) and visited the Zeche Zollern, an old coal mine from the first part of the 20th century that has been turned into a museum. As some of you know, I spent most of summer 2010 in the Ruhr region, attending concerts that were part of the European Capital of Culture. I learned quickly that many elements of this region’s strong coal and steel history have been reimagined as public places, museums, parks, and concert halls. I felt very at home!
|Zeche Zollern, Dortmund, Germany|
Each time I return to Germany, I learn something new about the country’s history. A new installation at the museum presented the history of forced laborers during the Third Reich. The stories of foreign women who were forced to give up their new babies or to work in brothels for foreign male workers were particularly startling.
|"German Eastern Settlements, 11th to 19th Century"|
Our evening concluded at an event hosted by the Amerikahaus in Düsseldorf. Klaus Scherer, who served as a German news correspondent in Washington, D.C., discussed his new book, “Wahnsinn Amerika: Innenansichten einer Weltmacht,” and offered his own perspective on the upcoming US election. The lecture was very interesting, although I quickly learned how rusty my German political vocabulary is! It was also fascinating to hear what elements of the election campaign Germans found to be significant: religion came up, as well as homosexuality and the various wars and military actions in the Middle East and Africa.
Did you know that Bonn has a United Nations campus? Well, it does! We got a quick introduction to the UN activities in Bonn (climate and environment ministries), and we were able to take in Bonn from above, on the top floor of the building formally used by the German parliament, when Bonn was the capital of West Germany. Continuing with the theme of Germany, 1945-1989, we visited the Haus der Geschichte, one of my favorite museums ever, that presents the history of the Federal Republic of Germany post-WWII, contra the German Democratic Republic. For all who are planning a trip to Bonn (!!!), we will go to this museum!
|Bonn, from above, at the UN Campus|
We also got a tour of Palais Schaumburg, the formal site of the German Chancellor’s office, and nearby, the former house of the German Chancellor. The network of government buildings in Bonn increased during the 1970s, so only a few chancellors actually used the beautiful villa as their control center. Still, the grounds and Palais are beautiful. The Chancellor’s house, however, was a bit too modern for me. Too many windows, too much Öffentlichkeit, not enough privacy!
|Palais Schaumburg, Bonn|
|German Chancellor's Office, the equivalent of the Oval Office, during the 60s and 70s|
|German Chancellor's House during the second half of the 20th century|
I rounded out the busy day by attending a Bible study associated with the American church in Bonn.
Stay tuned for an account of the rest of last week, not to mention this week! I leave you with a new concept, namely, the Gebetomat – a booth that is a prayer ATM. Sorry to those non-German speakers out there; this link is only in German, but you can see some photos!
|Coffee with Emmeline!|