Transatlantic Outreach Program: An Introduction

We’ve been to so many different places. Frankfurt and Bad Wildbad, Heidelberg, and Point Alpha Stiftung in Geisa, and Berlin. What’s most surprising is seeing how Germany is working to embrace its diversity. We learned about the coalition and the Green party. Devotion to environmentalism. For example, going to Deutsche Bank, seeing a modern skyscraper that doesn’t have air-conditioning, uses rainwater for some of its plumbing… This is cool, huh? It’s so awesome! The standards that I teach are World War I, World War II, and the Holocaust. So before I came here, you know, they asked us to write down those three words: “What do you know about Germany?” And I wrote aggression, beer, and Holocaust, which isn’t really a great thing to think about a country. The first day we got here, I was talking to somebody next to me about this beautiful gold-domed building I’d seen out of my hotel room and this stranger was listening while we were talking and stopped everything of their wonderful Sunday excursion to take us for a walk to go see it. And it’s just… immediately, right? I’d been here two hours and I already lost all of those words that I brought with me. So my new three words that I wrote yesterday were hospitality, openness, and determination. You know if you come here, especially talking to people, talking to people on the subway, talking to people at a restaurant, they will give you honest answers. I don’t think just reading things out of a book can really give you that authenticity. We’ve set up an exchange with a German teacher I met while on my study tour, and his class of students and my class of students are going to be sending each other videos and perhaps Skyping so that they can continue to learn more about each other’s culture and way of life. When we were on our study tour, they asked us: “What are three words that come to mind when you hear Germany?” And I wanted to hear what you think of that. What are three words that come to your minds?

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