Saturday, May 15, 2010

My First Post!!!

Liebe Gruesse aus Berlin! Let me first comment on how awesome our new location is, where we've been staying since Thursday. Can anything beat having an Italian eatery that offers medium pizzas for just a whopping 3 euros??? And a cafe downstairs with my favorite coffee drinks (latte macchiato anyone) for a good half a euro cheaper than most other places? Oh and let me gush about what I love about this city: PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION that's well planned of course, the cultural scene with theater by the river, theater nestled near trees, theater in the city center, just theater galore. Cafe culture is amazing and there are museums to draw people from any background of interest. Berlin is a place to be, let me say that.

Anyway, I have had a really rewarding and also eye-opening experience with the tutoring. First of all, I absolutely love the cute kids that I tutor! It's so nice to finally get to hang out with someone from a different age group after being surrounded by your peers constantly at college. And I've always loved hanging out with younger people. But this time, I was their "English teacher". The thing is, we were all assigned to groups that already had a volunteer tutor working with the kids. In my case though, I had to tutor two of my groups on my own because their "Schuelerhelfer" (tutor) was absent for certain personal circumstances. At first I was a little worried how I was going to handle this on my own as I was a little nervous to begin with. But in the end, I kind of managed! What I did was have them play a game to practice forming sentences and then designed a really rough version of a mini lecture that went over topics such as talking about our countries of origin, special celebrations in our families, hobbies, and vacation. Oh and some grammar. Honestly, it was super cool being able to conduct a bilingual tutoring session. It was fun!

After meeting these kids, though, and realizing the fact they their schools aren't exactly the most committed to their education really made me feel sad for them. And hopeful that circumstances won't hold them back. Of course, anyone would feel that way thinking about it theoretically. But to really see such a situation in reality for yourself...that definitely gives a more accurate perspective. I'm just impressed that there are people coming in from different areas from Berlin volunteering their time to help these young people in whatever way they can to give them the means to a better future. That, to me, is really meaningful, and I'm very fortunate to have had the chance to experience this first hand.

Other than that, I've also hung out with my tutees over the past week. The first time was with two girls, Ceyda, who's Turkish, and Naomi, who's Polish, and went to a local fair. "Rummeln gehen" as the term goes. It was so cute! They were literally dragging me to the rides and Ceyda made me ride bumper cars with her. Poor Naomi, got bumped around so many times but could barely land a hit on anyone else! Then they squished me in this ride that goes around and around in a ring. Then on Thursday I hung out with Mohamed, who's Lebanese, and Ejazali (or Ali), who's Pakistani, at the same place. Their tutor, Martha, who is just a bit older than me and also a student and Mohamed's younger brother also came along. They, too, were very enthusiastic about getting Martha and me to ride with them. The boys are also very outgoing and entertaining! I'm really amazed at how open the kids have been to someone who is a complete stranger to them.

Last thing I'd like to comment is the theater piece I saw last night, "Die Stunde die wir nichts von einander wussten" (the hour we knew nothing about each other). It was actually a play with no dialogue and was very much a string of random occurences happening one after another. to describe and interpret this? Well, imagine it somewhat as being a parody of film-making since there was a camera man following the actors in different sets that were set up on stage. It was very bizarre and at times appeared to be trying to capture glimpses of people's lives in a particular city, the stressed office worker, the druggie in the dumps, the local criminal, etc. I've never seen anything like it before, so it was a new experience. Although, I felt it was too jarring for my tastes at sometimes like the brief spurts of violence here and there and loud noises. Yes, I tend to be faint-hearted at times. But it was a neat concept, especially the whole no talking idea and the filming on a set theme.

Anyway, that's all for me. Tomorrow is bright and early and off to Dresden, a UNESCO recognized city for its culture. Can't wait! Toodles!

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