Urban Gardening in Delmenhorst

by Liz Bodenman ’20

Over the course of the Spring Semester, I had the pleasure of participating in an Urban Gardening course called “Projekt Seminar Wollepark,” in which students would travel to the nearby town of Delmenhorst once a week and participate in a project to help improve the conditions of the public park. 20 students in total, we were expected to break up into groups and come up with projects according to our interests. My group was interested in the perception of Garden Culture, and what certain people idealize when imagining their perfect garden. The idea behind this was to go to Delmenhorst and ask its residents (who are a very diverse group of immigrants and refugees) to draw what they pictured the perfect garden to be. Every week for 12 weeks we would go and ask different people to draw for us; the end result was a published photo book containing pictures of the drawings and participants, as well as a summary of our findings.

I enjoyed this course because it was a break from the normal university curriculum and offered an opportunity that Dickinson does not offer. I was able to go out into a community I was unfamiliar with, practice my German, and befriend other “Ausländer” like myself who were starting a new life here. It was also very interesting to learn about permaculture, building structures to attract certain insects desirable for the garden in the town center that the class helped maintain, and develop a basic understanding of urban planning. In the future, I highly recommend students take this course if it is added again. Otherwise, for those with an interest in gardening, urban planning, or simply volunteering with children and the elderly, take the 10-minute train to Delmenhorst and stop by the Nachbarschaftszentrum Wollepark. You will surely be welcomed with open arms. Wollepark Website: http://www.wollepark.de/

Internship at Clinic

by Sandi Kadric ’20

I did a an internship at for the last two weeks in March and every Friday from April to July. I shadowed a nurse anesthesiologist. They are very nice, and they are very helpful in explaining procedures during surgeries. I had the chance to prepare the patient before surgery such as setting up the medications, blood pressure, EKG, and IV bag. I actually had patient contact and interaction, which is difficult to do in America especially in a hospital setting. Everyone spoke ONLY German with me (except for a couple of words here and there), and yes, I had to ask questions to the patients, and it helped me to learn to be confident.

I learned different methods of certain surgeries. For example, patients lose more blood during knee replacement surgeries than in America. I had the option to choose what surgeries to watch, so I saw a variety of surgeries such as spine surgery, joint replacements, general surgeries, etc. I learned the differences between the German health care system and American health care system, and I would recommend anyone who is pre-med to do this internship because – aside from learning so much – you can receive a letter at the end and put it on your medical school application. It will help you look diverse and stand out from other applicants.

Community Service at Retirement Home

by Sandi Kadric ’20

Every Tuesday at 3pm, a group of Dickinson students visited the retirement home in Bremen to talk to four over 90-year-old women. The women came from different areas in Germany such as Bremen, Berlin, a town in now present-day Poland, and a town in the vicinity of Dresden. They talk about their times growing up in the Nazi regime, running from the Russian soldiers, or any consequences that resulted from the second World War. They are not afraid to give insight on personal, tragic stories as they are instantly comfortable with sharing with you since you walk in the door. However, the content is not always heavy as sometimes they fast forward to present day and talk about their families, pets, cooking, etc. The environment is always open and friendly as we always treat ourselves to coffee and cookies.

The women are still mentally sharp for the hour and a half, sometimes two-hour meetings. They want to get to know us well, so it leads to free-flowing conversations. Sometimes it is difficult to understand their German by not knowing some of the words; however, there is a worker that accompanies us who helps us understand the content and is able to translate us in English if ever needed. Speaking to these women gave an insight into the German identity, and it always put a smile on their faces as well as the Dickinson students.

Internship at BIZME

by Molly Burger ’19

Kneipenquiz

Messe DRAUSSEN

Over this past “Semesterferien,” the two months break from classes in February and March, I interned at the Bremen Information Center for Human Rights and Development (biz). I knew I wanted to have an internship in Bremen even before arriving here and was lucky enough to find out about biz after skyping with Janine Ludwig and telling her about my interests. Biz ended up being a perfect match for me. Everyone there was super friendly and willing to explain something if I didn’t understand it (usually because of the language barrier). I spent most mornings in the main office area attending meetings, or assisting with various tasks, and most

WeltWeitWissen-Kongress, May 2018 in Bremen

afternoons I was in the information center/biz library where I assisted visitors and worked on small projects. Even though there was a certain pattern that I fell into, there were always events, such as a “Kneipenquiz,” the “Messe DRAUSSEN,” and the “Weltweit Wissen-Konferenz” taking place. Through my time at biz I was able to learn more about international development and what working for an NGO would be like, as well as improve my German.

Further info: https://www.bizme.de/

Working in Bremen

By Katelyn King ’18

During my time in Bremen, I decided to look for a job to help supplement my travel addiction. I asked Dr. Ludwig for some help and she remembered seeing an e-mail come through her inbox about a student assistant job with Faculty 10, the language departments. Janine Ludwig inquired about the job for me and I applied by submitting my German resume and cover letter, which I had just learned to write in my language class. During the interview, I was offered the job as the student assistant for the ERASMUS office for FB10.

My job included answering emails in German or English, filing paperwork, organizing applications for outgoing students, creating transcripts as credit certificates arrived from professors, and helping incoming students to create their class schedules, dealing with altogether 200 students. I worked 6 hours a week, at the times that fit my schedule and that were outside of my boss’s schedule (we shared the office and the only computer).

The position really helped me out financially and helped me to improve my formal German, as I had to communicate professionally via email. It gave me professional experience in a foreign country to put on my resume, which not only backs up my computer and management skills, but also substantiates my listed language proficiency. I also learned to appreciate all the support that we get from Dickinson, Janine Ludwig, and Verena Mertz, because the ERASMUS students are on their own for a lot of things. I would highly recommend seeking employment in Bremen. It might seem intimidating at first, but it is definitely worth it.

Dickinson-in-Bremen students donate money to local refugee organization

The current Dickinson-in-Bremen students decided to donate money to a refugee organization in Bremen. Read here the accounts of two of them:

Rachel:

After receiving some cash back from their health insurance company, the Dickinson Students in Bremen sought to give back to the community that has hosted them for the last nine months. Their search and hearts led them to the non-profit organization “Fluchtraum,” housed less than twenty minutes by foot from the students’ apartments. Fluchtraum works according to one simple ideal, all people deserve guidance and companionship, and works with the Bremen community to bring guidance and companionship to those who need it the most and are denied it quite often; minor refugees without parents or other guardians. The nonprofit’s main goal is connect those youth refugees with the service and mentors they need, often picking up where the state can no longer provide. They work together with the centers that house the young refugees to connect those refugees in need of help, especially with legal matters where the minors cannot sign for themselves, with a Mentor. The mentor can help the child or teenager with a wide range of issues and will do activities together such as visiting museums and exploring the city. Above all, Fluchtraum strives to help these young people feel like members of the Bremen community, from their mentorship program to getting the kids together for a round of football (soccer) to connecting the refugees with language programs.

“Like all refugees, these minors are searching after protection from war, persecution, forced migration, hunger, natural catastrophes, human rights violations, and violence, or simply are searching for a humane life” states the front page of the Fluchtraum’s website. Around 550 minor refugees without guardianship arrived in Bremen alone and this number is 14 times more than in the year 2010. The centers are over capacity. When we sat down with Fluchtraum to discuss their program and its goals, they told us there are around 800 young refugees currently in Bremen whose parents died, disappeared or are unreachable. The organization simply wants to show these children and teenagers that they are welcome here in Bremen and they are not alone. Fluchtraum would love to grow further in their mission by expanding the artistic and cultural activities offered and by working on training former participants in their program tFluchtraumo be mentors. The money donated by the Dickinson students will help these new members of the Bremen community find a new safe home, whether it is here in Bremen or a city somewhere else along the road. We hope that this bit of luck will be the start of a strong relationship between the Fluchtraum and the Dickinson-in-Bremen program.

Ezra:

My fellow Dickinsonians-in-Bremen and I received a pleasant surprise in the mail: our health insurance company had decided we would get extra money. Enclosed in the envelope was a check for 100 Euros! We reported this to our coordinators, Janine and Verena. Was it a trap? Did the money belong to us or to the Dickinson-in-Bremen program, which had set up our health insurance? We came to a compromise. The students who had received the money would come up with an appropriate way to spend it. After much discussion, we put it to a vote. We would donate half the money to a good cause and use half for cultural events. Now how to donate the money to the best cause? We came up with the idea of using the money to help refugees. There even happened to be an organization called Fluchtraum within walking distance from our student apartments. We organized a meeting over email, so we could see exactly what would happen with our money and learn more about Fluchtraum.

I went with two other Dickinsonians-in-Bremen to visit this organization. The administrators we met at Fluchtraum were extremely excited to receive our donation, because they were in the midst of applying for money from the state and unsure if they would be officially funded in the near future. They talked to us about their main mission: pairing immigrants with volunteer guardians or mentors. They said refugees are often young men from Africa between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. A guardian/mentor had many benefits for a refugee. They could help them learn German, show them around Bremen, and/or serve as a legal guardian to sign important documents (for example, for education, housing, or health services), increasing the refugees’ integration into the city.

Where would our money go specifically? Most of the money would be spent on campaigns promoting information and training sessions for future mentors. This organization also provided new shoes for refugees (normally teenage males), who loved soccer (or as it is known in the rest of the world, football). I liked the idea of my money going to fund this specific cause, because it represented a physical object (the shoes) but so much more as well: enabling the refugee to have fun playing a sport after troubled times at home and an extremely long journey to reach Germany (one administrator mentioned that one of her mentees had been away from home for over two years before finding a permanent location to live in Germany). I had the feeling that teenage refugees who come to Germany often do not have the same luxury of being a child and a teenager as I did in America; in many countries, there is no time to “hang out and play sports.” The shoes also represented making friends and connection in the refugee’s new home in Bremen, Germany. I played many pick-up games of soccer in Germany, and is it a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world— everyone in the whole world loves soccer (except silly Americans like me). I saw soccer as an important tool for the integration of refugees in Bremen; giving a refugee Fußball shoes granted them an opportunity to play more comfortably with other refugees or native Germans, allowing them to build connections within the Bremen community.

Unfortunately, this year’s Dickinson-in-Bremen program is drawing to a close. Working together with an organization like Fluchtraum would give future Dickinson students in Bremen the opportunity to be a mentor for a refugee. I believe this to be an important experience, as a Dickinsonian-in-Bremen could help a refugee with English and German (learning German together) and discover German cultural events together (one future goal, mentioned the administrators, involved incorporating more cultural experience in their mentor programs, such as visiting museums, galleries, or concerts with refugees). I recently saw a video online where the speaker challenged the audience members to “engage with someone with whom you have very few shared experiences.” Work as a mentor would accomplish exactly that for Dickinson students during their year abroad. I would definitely be a win-win situation: the refugee would gain a friend and important connection in Bremen and the Dickinson student would also gain a friend and the opportunity to help someone less fortunate than him- or herself. Being a mentor would represent an important step on a Dickinson student’s path to becoming a global citizen.

Internship at Schulzentrum Walle

For my internship in Bremen, I worked with the Schulzentrum Walle, a high school in an area of the city. For this project, I teamed up with a student who had been a teaching assistant at Dickinson as well as many student teachers.

In the school in Walle, my job was to assist a student teacher who was currently enrolled in the University of Bremen. Together, we helped students who struggled with writing. In our group were around six boys, many of whom spoke German as a second language. Many nationalities were represented in our group, including German, Turkish, Russian, and Sri Lankan. As I (an American) also spoke German as a second language, I got to be a student and a teaching assistant at the same time! Together, the student teacher and I helped the students prepare for their end of year tests and their Abitur (the German equivalent of the SATs/final exams of high school to determine placement into universities.) The specific area of focus for our group involved Erörterung or forming cohesive arguments. Together, we discussed the difference between premise, thesis, fact, opinion, and conclusion. The students in the group read articles with topics such as “The Internet has an Overall Negative Effect on Humans” or “European Union Inaction Toward Refugees is Purposeful Murder.” From these articles, the teacher and I helped the students pick out pro- and counterarguments from these academic papers and to argue for one side or the other. This was practice that would then come in handy for their upcoming exams.

The students were very kind to me and asked me many questions about America. One student called me “American Boy!” whenever he saw me in the hallways. Another student even asked me questions in English after one session, because he had to interview a visitor to Germany for a class project.

Ezra Sassaman

Internship at the Heiner Müller Society

image[8]

Rachel (left) and Madison

For the month of February I was an intern along with Madison Alley at the Internationale Heiner-Müller-Gesellschaft, or the International Heiner Müller Society, of which our Academic Director, Dr. Janine Ludwig, is the Chair of the Board of Directors. The IHMG is a non-profit literary society that constantly works to preserve and further the works of Heiner Müller and the discussions surrounding his life and plays. The society focuses on a wide range of work related  to Müller  including the spreading of his work internationally, initiating translations, following the conversations about his work, initiating projects and documentations, as well as hosting colloquiums and workshops about Müller. Recently, the IHMG organized and hosted a conference in Berlin about Müller’s continued relevance in contemporary society which the full year Dickinson in Bremen students attended, (http://blogs.dickinson.edu/bremen/2014/10/06/berlin-excursion-and-transatlantic-conference/) including myself. Heiner Müller is considered one of the most important German playwrights of the second half of the 20th century.

image[1]For the first three weeks of the internship Madison and I worked together on the composition of IHMG’s first newsletter of the year and then completed a multitude of translations including the newsletter, biographies of the members of IHMG and the descriptions of the past Müller Monday events, an event that IHMG hosts each month in cooperation with the Literaturforum at the Brechthaus. As we completed these translations we got a better idea of both the work that IHMG does and the members of the society. Finally, at the end of the month, we put this information to use when we traveled to Berlin for a week to work alongside the Chief Executive of the IHMG, Anja Quickert. For this week we worked on more translations, assisted with the preparation and running of February’s Müller Monday panel discussion, and discovered the city of Berlin as we handed out hundreds of flyers about IHMG’s events and the society in general.

image[2]This internship was great for me simply because it helped improve both my knowledge of German and even English through the work with translation. Working with IHMG was, however, most rewarding, because of the opportunity it gave me to work closely with the head of a non-profit organization. After Dickinson I hope to go into the non-profit sector and work to advance literacy around the world. So the short introduction I got in the inner workings of IHMG as well as receiving practice both networking for the society and thanking the donors are invaluable moments for me. I look forward to taking my experience at IHMG and applying it to my work post Dickinson. >Rachel Schilling<