Saturday, July 8, 2017

July 5

On Wednesday, some students went to their community partners, and others began working on the community asset map. The community asset map involves interviewing members of the neighborhood around our community placement, finding out what they like about the neighborhood and what they contribute, and researching other assets nearby. My group interviewed people in the neighborhood around Kottbusser Tor, or “Kotti.” Despite the fact that we were all focused on the same geographical area, some of us had very different experiences than others. For example, while some of our interviewees spoke good English, others found a friend – or trusty Google Translate – to help during the conversations. We learned some very interesting things about our neighborhood, and we’ve found many different organizations that support the diverse community there. In addition, navigating the language barrier throughout the program has reminded us how non-English speakers arriving to the U.S., or non-German speakers arriving to Germany, must feel when trying to have simple conversations.

Next week, we will present our findings in the form of a physical or digital map. Each of the maps is taking on a slightly different form. For example, while the Die Garternerei group is planning on drawing a map of the garden on a large piece of paper, my group is making a Google map with photos and descriptions of specific sites. I’m looking forward to seeing how different each of our presentations and maps end up being – many of us have had very different experiences during our time in Berlin, each with its own highs and lows, and I think that will show through in our presentations.

That night’s activities included an optional outdoor movie screening. When the weather finally cleared up a bit, I went to Arena Badeschiff, a swimming pool inside the Spree. We walked near the pool during our first few days in Kreuzberg, but I had never gone in until that night. As I watched the sunset by the TV tower in one direction and stand-up paddle boards gliding by the Molecule Man sculpture in the other, I suddenly realized how soon my time in Berlin is ending. Many of us are figuring out how to say goodbye to our community partners, to the now-familiar restaurants and shops on Schlesische Straße, and to Berlin as a whole. Swimming in (sort of) the Spree reminded me to make the most of every day I have left here.

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