Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"I left my heart in Berlin"

Dear All,

our Fourth of July festivities were a huge success. All host families were in attendance and contributed to a gorgeous potluck feast. Even the students prepared home-style dishes and most host parents were careful to honor the colors red, white and blue. It was wonderful to see (and eat). The students serenaded the audience with the American national anthem, some "minimalist" poetry and carols - we really had a large time.

That night our students were supposed to get rest, because we were due at the central train station in the wee hours of the morning, in order to embark on our three-day journey to Berlin. Regardless of the little sleep our students apparently had, they were so excited throughout the four-hour train ride to our nation's capital. It was a blast. Upon our arrival, we first checked into our youth hostel on the Wannsee lake (simply gorgeous, with sail boats and a beautiful view) and settled into our rooms. Soon after, we hopped back on the train on our way into the center of the city and boarded a city-tour bus that took us around the entire city. It gave us a great overview and first impressions of one of the largest cities in Europe. Afterwards, our students had some free time and liberty to explore the area around the Potsdamer Platz for themselves. As a finale to the long day, we enjoyed a show by the Blue Man Group. It was a hit and the students were howling with amusement. Afterwards they confessed that this was one of their favorite experiences in Germany.

The next day, we visited the Jewish Museum (designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind, whose design for the Freedom Towers was also accepted as plans for the memorial for September 11th) and it made for one serious history lesson. Our students behaved wonderfully and with the utmost respect and curiousity - nothing else a teacher could ask for. Afterwards, we walked to Checkpoint Charlie, where the students were free to eat lunch and roam about. Afterwards we walked further along the main roads and eventually made our way to the Reichstag (our parliament building), but not before stopping at significant points of interest, such as the newly premiered outdoor installation "Topography of Terror" and the Holocaust Memorial. Finally, we reached the Reichstag and climbed atop the fascinating dome and caught a wonderful view of the city. It was a fortune that we did not have to wait long in any lines, because as we were climbing the dome, the fan mile was already filling with hundreds of thousands of people in anticipation of the Spain/Germany semi-final game. We opted to watch the game near our hostel, but not before we were decked out in German shirts, war paint and flags and twigs of oak trees. We do not have to go into the details of how the game ended - the German octupus Paul had warned us all. There were some (many) tears. At this point, we ought to congratulate our sister program in Spain on becoming the World Cup Champion of 2010.

Thursday was a day of walking. We basically walked about the entire city and sort of let our interests guide us. Just by chance, inspired by curiosity, we enountered one of the best exhibitions (motions and art) we could have hoped for, while visiting the Bugatti store to oggle at the most expensive cars in the world. Afterwards we picniced in the city and eventually made our way to the Berlin Cathedral. This stop was especially interesting to many students, because it was a Lutheran cathedral and not Catholic (at this point, they've seen a lot of Churches) and also houses a crypt beneath it, which is home to several Prussian kings and queens, about whom we've learned in our classes. We also climbed on top of the dome and enjoyed yet another amazing view of the city. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day.

We eventually made our way back to the central station, where we grabbed some "grub" and got on the train. We anticipated that everyone would be exhausted and fall asleep - wrong! They are like Energizer bunnies, they keep going and going and going...

Berlin was truly a wonderful trip and so much fun. Some even said that they left their hearts in Berlin and plan on returning. What a success!

For now we wish you a wonderful time until your kids are back...there is only little time left and the next week will be bitter-sweet, "Parting is such sweet surrow..."

All the best from Krefeld,

The Krefeld Team and Co.


  1. Phenomenal description of the trip to Berlin. I felt like I was there!

    Kudos for another great update. Hard to believe your time in Germany is coming to an end.


  2. What a lovely narrative. I am a Krefeld '81 alum; our year we managed close to a week in "West Berlin" with an epic, memorable foray to the east. We have 21 alums in our facebook group and every one of us recalls that experience, so fraught with real risk, in great detail.

    Thank you for this blog!

    John Manzo
    "IU Honors Program- Krefeld, 1981" facebook group admin