How have your experiences/visits – tours of Kreuzberg, Humboldt area, bunker tour, concentration camp, youth museum visit, school visit, the Stasi museum visit, Reichstag tour, Markus Heider's lecture, Rhissa's and Andre's talks, Janka's workshop, our class lectures and discussions & your own personal experiences and observations - so far made you re-think Berlin and/or German identities?
You can either focus on a few of the experiences listed above or talk about them more generally
a) compared to the Spring (before you came)
b) in relation to the historical and architectural landscape of Berlin (as represented by Ladd in his book)
c) in relation to the topics of globalization, borders, migration and the arts (from the Spring seminar)
Small Interview with the German audience from watching the common ground at June 27th:
Before the play began, I introduced myself to them and also talking briefly about my research project. I asked few questions to them due to the limitation of time. From our conversation, they both are college students in Germany studying about the Arts and Media. They are thinking about their projects so that they need to come to different theaters and watch different plays in order to get some inspirations. I asked about why they chose to come to this play. They mentioned that this play is very famous because it received awards from the Theatertreffen and a lot of media wrote about this play.
I couldn’t say that my understanding about German and Berlin identity have been completely reversed since I came here. However, no doubt, there are shifts in my understanding. Like what I talked about before in the application to this study abroad: there is no way to really understand a country without being there in person. Even personal observations might be also very inaccurate or very subjective. It is really hard to give a definition for German and Berlin identities. Before I came to Berlin, stereotype still exist in my mind. German is very strict and conservative. I always worried that they are very sensitive to the Germany history, especially the part about the third empire. From Ladd’s people, we learned about the heaviness of German history and those are illustrated by their culture and architecture. In his book, the existences of a lot of memorials or buildings were quite controversial due to specific historical reasons. Not all the person kept positive attitudes towards those architectures. I was mentally prepared to see a society that is highly ordered and pressured and some certain place might be depressing. However, from my experience here, especially visiting the integrating secondary school, bunker tour and from Rhissa’s and Andere’s experience, my understanding altered.
We visited the integrating secondary school Heinrich-von-Stephan Schule on June 19th. I attended one of their German history classes, learning about the French revolution. The class is much more relaxing and active than I thought. German is well known for their highly order and formality. I imagined that all students will be seated in the classroom quietly and everyone is very concentrated on teacher’s lecture. Instead, the class is very interactive that the teacher only led the discussion of students but give the rights of free talking for students. I can feel that the students are the main roles in this class. Even though the class is very informal and students talked with each other freely, the class still seemed to be very organized implicitly. There is no person are talking about the things that is unrelated to the class and all the students paid a lot of attention to the material they learned. I think at least all the students have a bottom-line about what they should obey.
My experience at bunker tour and concentration camp offer me a different perspective for how German people think about their history. German people are much more open-minded about their history than what I think. They are not avoiding of their history and they are presenting the truth without making up it, even though the truth is full of pain and blood. This is very different from United States and China. Most of the memorials are about the “good” things such as victory for the war. The memorials are for the heroes instead of for the purpose of reminding people of the mistakes they made before. During our trips, I notice there were a lot of schools having required tours to the concentration camps. Some of them are kids and some of them are teenagers. They are learning those memories from a very young age. Also during the visit to bunker, the tour guide mentioned about German’s attitudes toward nationalism. They never mentioned they are German but they always said that they are from Germany. Even though they don’t avoid the history third empire, they still are very sensitive towards it.