July 10 – Effie
I never thought that I could have so much fun covering roads in chalk dust and baking “cakes” (kuchen) out of dried sand, but today, I did just that. My host sister Sophia brought me to her aunt’s house, where we played with her one-year-old daughter Hannah. Together, Hannah and I pored over German picture books, learning the Bavarian translations for different words (such as mieze for ‘cat’) while we pretended to eat the cakes Sophia had molded from the sandbox. Interestingly, while I do not actually remember any of the German words I had hastily searched on Google Translate before meeting my host family last week, I do remember all the words I learned with Hannah. I think this demonstrates that fun activities provide for better immersion, which facilities the language learning process. I’m eager to find more activities like that throughout the rest of the trip in order to learn more German!
Another thing I realized during the day was the importance of art in bringing people together. While I couldn’t actually speak to Hannah or Sophia in German, we were able to collaborate wordlessly, effortlessly, when we were drawing with chalk. Despite having no initial agreement about what we would draw, we were able to easily pick up on each other’s ideas once we began drawing, using non-verbal signals to understand each other. Soon, the floor was decorated with vibrant peace signs, stars, and an attempted (emphasis on attempted!!) depiction of Sophia’s aunt. I guess when it comes to art, language is not a significant barrier; rather, art on its own can become a form of communication.
July 11 – Alexa
Today our group went on a day trip to Passau, a city near the border of Austria. When we arrived at Passau we headed to the offices of Gemeinsam in Europa, a non-profit organization, that’s main goal is to help introduce people to new experiences and to help people adapt to their new cultures. At the offices we met with one of the national volunteers who told us about the organization and his personal experience working there. In addition, we also met a man named Mo, who is a Syrian refugee, who migrated to Germany. He told us his life story and the events that entailed that caused him to have to flee Syria. Mo explained how before the war he lived a happy life with his family. When chaos broke out he felt the need to take action by documenting these horrific events. As a result of his advocacy, the government arrested him and tortured him and his friends. He has had horrible actions and things happen in front of him. His powerful and moving story helped everyone, especially myself, realize how privileged we are every single day.
July 11 – Gabe
Our host families organized a barbecue at an old brick factory. Before we started eating, the former mayor of Winzer of 18 years gave us a tour of the factory. We learned many interesting facts, like there are many different frames for different bricks, such as the long skinny Bavarian brick frame. Then we learned that the brick ovens could get up to 1200 Centigrade, which is probably a lot in Fahrenheit. The enormous brick oven’s roof was made without a single nail and by fitting specially bricks together. A single worker would make 700 bricks in a day and at one point, there were 1100 brick factories in Bavaria. There are now 10. The tour taught us of the importance of preserving this critical piece of Bavarian history. I found it interesting that such a seemingly mundane building material could have such a deep rooted connection to the culture of Bavaria. I got a picture with the mayor tour guide.
July 12 – Marco
Today, we split into groups to present about our homes states to the German students at our homestay school. Me and Adriana did our presentations on Texas and California, and the students were very receptive and asked many questions. The teachers found it very interesting as well.
Marco and Adriana presenting to an 11th grade class of German students
Linnea, Alexa, and Kagan presenting to a 5th-grade class.
Then after school, we hung out with our host siblings once more before we left. Me and my host sibling Felix and Niko and his host sibling David made tacos and had dinner as we listened to Niko’s rap playlist on the stereo. Then we watched cars 3 upstairs but I fell asleep and didn’t watch tv with them the whole time when some other students came over. It was a good last hang out though.
Marco and homestay family
July 13 – Homestay Farewell
Waiting for our train to return to Frankfurt.