My backpack feels like success

Title=direct quote from Beulah Mosley, right after a thrift store expedition, and post-chocolate shop purchases. Refer to former post and see picture of Beulah with her backpack about twice her size-comparable to today.

Since my last post, things have gotten better/easier, as I feel over the adjustment to living-with-another-family hump.  School is still a little challenging, as many of the kids don’t speak English. The younger kids are excited to have you in their classrooms and try to ask you things, like, “what’s your favorite color?/How old are you?”. They are also expected to greet their teachers when they come in so we are greeted similarly, by being referred to as “madam”. I can dig it. The older kids are also welcoming, but a little intimidating, because they are really tall and really cool and giggle when you walk past. Sometimes I think I’m over worrying what my “students” think of me but it’s harder when people are speaking another language and you have no idea what they are saying.

Yesterday, in grade 9 art class, Lena, the art teacher, asked me to work with two boys who had just finished their project, where they were assigned to create a building design that included stairs, multiple levels, windows, a pool, balconies, etc. (a project that focused on perspective and architecture). The most challenging obstacle of teaching in Germany is exactly the situation I was thrown into. In American student teaching, we had time to plan our lessons, to write them out, and provide teacher samples/rationales for teaching, as well as measure our lessons up to the KY standards, etc. but here we are primarily thinking on our feet. I feel like it’s really wonderful practice, as much as I don’t love doing it. I remembered a project I had done in college and revised it to do with these two fellas; it’s called the Frankenstein portrait. What you do is start by sitting across from someone and you draw one part of their face. We chose to start with the head shape/hair. Because there were only three of us, we began with the person on our left. From then on, we switched back and forth, drawing different facial features, such as the eyes, nose, or ears (i.e. a Frankenstein portrait because you have different parts of everyone’s faces to create one face). Check out our process and the boys’ finished products in the photos! Today I was helping with three fifth grade classes; the kids were creating boats, buildings, cars, or planes, based on sketches they prepared, all stemming from a lesson Lena taught. I was caught off guard by fifth graders using saws and clamps and hot glue guns. I loved seeing all the different ideas that came from this assignment, and the way that each group of kids customized their designs to fit their own style. In English class, Heike threw us into teaching the first day but today, she gave us a little more prep time. I introduced a story where fifth-grade students had to answer questions (in English) and help read the story. We picked out words they didn’t recognize (i.e. sea, captain, waves, reef) and defined them. I have NEVER had such a hard time explaining words (HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE WORD “HAPPEN”?) since I can’t really use synonyms, because the kids are just learning English. I relied on my stellar acting skills and demonstrated a lot of things. It was really similar to playing charades. Charades=teaching vocab.

After school, Shelby, Beulah, and I walked to the town (Werne) where we sought out a latte AND HALLELU, we found one! We also split these pastries that had what we thought were oreo crumbs in them but they definitely were not-still not sure what we ate. I AM sure that my time in Germany could be summed up by pastries. And bread. The array of pimples on my face tell the same story. Beulah ended our time at this cafe by taking out a glass and then being yelled at to not touch the broken glass (or that’s what we think they said but it was in German so that’s just an educated guess).

Jutta and Lily picked me up and we went THRIFTING! My love language. I’m not sure I could have been placed with a better family. Lily found a pair of those ancient skates that attach to the shoes you are wearing and she’s been trying them out everywhere we go, including the asparagus place where Jutta ordered enough asparagus to feed the town because she is having a first of May party on Monday where the meal is asparagus and entrance fee is BYOP(otatoes, boiled, of course). Side note: yesterday we went to Aldi and as an avid American Aldi-er, I was awestruck in the face of the German Aldi. Let me share a brief description: miles of produce, exotic cheese section is 3X its normal size, the bath and body section consists of more than shampoo and hand soap, and there’s WINE FOR SALE (and by sale I mean €3!!). I def try not to compare America and Germany because they both have their pros & cons but German Aldi is currently winning in the grocery store realm.

Another topic: it seems Germany is covered in castles (Jutta actually told me this is the most “castled” area) and there’s one right down the road from us. After the Aldi escapade, Jutta detoured towards the castle and then gave me a walking tour. She told me she lived there for FORTY YEARS! In a FREAKIN’ CASTLE! (pics below, so you can partially enjoy the virtual beauty). Short version of story: Young Jutta was afternoon walking one day past the castle and noticed that the windows were dirty. She figured that no one lived there, since it wasn’t clean, so she asked her friend that knew the people that take own, or rather take care, of it (because an earl owns it?!). They said the place was for rent so Jutta was given a partial wing of the castle. She didn’t have to pay rent for the first year, because it was really run down; the earl gave her permission to fix the place up instead of paying rent. Her creative/innovative self took care of everything she could but her pride and joy was her garden. She showed me the (currently run down) section of earth that she got to love as her own. She also showed me a sweet, hidden garden, across the way, that was always her true love but has been rented by the same lady as long as she can remember (the lady who owns it is in her 80s and rides her bike to the garden every day to care of it!! Thinking that lady is my mother in the future).

Lily and I are sitting in the what I think is the living room and Lily is watching TV but she just brought me lunch (AKA dinner)-she’s great, and really kind to me.


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