Today everyone miraculously got up on time, dragged their groggy asses out of bed, and made it to breakfast at 7:30 AM. Most people seemed to crave vegetables, yet everyone was met with an onslaught of fresh-baked bread, meats, and cheeses. People universally enjoyed the fresh orange juice. The jury was still out on the coffee. Nikki claimed that it tastes like railroad ties; however, Laurette loved it.
Julie, Manuela, and Kathryn appeared at Die Fabrik after breakfast. We all took the U-bahn and the S-bahn to Humboldt University for our first day of class! Humboldt University is like a large, very prestigious high school with high ceilings and lots of marble. It felt very different from the University of Washington.
We funneled into a small, clean room on the second floor where we were welcomed by several Humboldt faculty, including Dr. Martin Klepper, Dr Kristina Graaf, and Dr. Anna Broemer. We reviewed the syllabus and program timeline. We took a fifteen-minute break and everyone had a very difficult time finding water. We wandered around Humboldt until stumbling upon an official university store, where everyone inadvertently bought sparkling water.
For lunch, we headed to the appropriately named Cum Laude café. Being broke college students, we were all very happy to have lunch paid for. People got a variety of dishes, from goulash to a “salad” that ended up being a pizza. After lunch, we were treated to a lecture by Dr. Kristina Graaf. She discussed German memorial culture and how Germans ignore the relationship between the colonial era, the Third Reich, and the continuity of racialization processes. It was absolutely fascinating. I was just as intrigued by my peers’ critical, thought-provoking questions. I was still perplexed by the fact that Germans avoid talking about race, ethnicity, and racism. In the United States, we talk about race and racism a lot. Yet in the US, those in power do not memorialize past atrocities (such as slavery and the treatment of Native Americans) in the same way that Germany does with the Holocaust.
After the lecture, we toured the Palace of the Republic Exhibit. By this point, everyone was fairly hot and potato-like. But then we were let loose on a “scavenger hunt”. Basically, we were supposed to venture out alone into the area surrounding Humboldt to try and find artifacts to write about. Everyone reconvened in thirty minutes with interesting observations. For example, some people found the Burned Books memorial, and others found Stumbling Stones: brass cobblestones etched with the names and life dates of Nazi victims. Interestingly, the Stumbling Stones are all around Europe, honoring not only Jewish victims but also the Roma, people with disabilities, people of color, LGBTQ folks, and more. This is quite uncommon. Stumbling Stones can be found all around Germany in the places where the victims were first taken. Julie, Manuela, and Kathryn let us loose after we debriefed the scavenger hunt. Most of us returned to the hostel, where we rested, ate, and explored for the rest of the night. My group ate some delicious Indian food.