Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Greetings Reader,

It has been quite an exciting weekend here in Germany!
If you were not aware, one of the most popular sports in Germany and Europe is Soccer/Fußball.
This past weekend was the Finale of the die WM/ die Weltmeisterschaft in Brazil, South America.

The Finale featured two really formidable teams: Argentina vs. Germany. Everyone in Dresden was at the edge of their seats awaiting the match. Hopes were high because Germany had a chance to win, but there was always a possibility of loss. Despite the possibility of loss, the Germans were excited nonetheless.

Sunday was a happy and sad day for many--it was the farewell church service for Pastor Rehr in our congregation at the St. Petri-Kirche. This service lasted two hours, but it was well worth it. Pastor Rehr gave helpful encouragement and comfort for the congregation from the Word of God during the sermon. He made a point during the sermon to say the following: "Some of you will want to say to one another--let us make everything new--new liturgy, new feel to the congregation, new atmosphere, new music, new everything....some of you will say to one another--let us keep it the way it is and some will say--let us shape it  to what it was before 1995." He encouraged the congregation to do the following "If what you decide is not what everyone can work together to build and is not built strongly on Christ and his Word, then is it really worth doing?"
During the service, I had the opportunity of singing the Bach Cantata that I had been working on with the choir over the past month for this very occasion. It was great to finally sing it for the congregation. Almost half of the congregation participated in the singing and playing instruments for the Cantata. If you were unable to read my last blog featuring the link to a version of the cantata...here it is again : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Oqk9xoIsWg

After the service, I was able to take a picture with Pastor Rehr before the altar in the church. According to many in the congregation, this is a great sign of honor and respect that the Pastor wanted to take a picture with me before the altar. I have built a great foundation of respect and partnership with the members of this congregation and I cannot thank God enough for the opportunity to be here in Dresden.

What did the evening bring for festivities? BBQ!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We had a delicious BBQ before the Finale! I ate my fair share of brats and steak! It was so scrumptious! Everyone was happy to see that I was wearing a Germany T-shirt in honor of the die deutsche Mannschaft. An American cheering for the German team?? THAT IS SO COOL! It was a hard fought game, but in the end--Germany won 1:0
Dresden erupted with celebration and the amount of sleep that everyone received was minimal due to the excitement! Following the win will be days of celebration in Berlin and throughout Germany.

How long do I have left to experience Germany? 13 days. I am looking forward to coming home and seeing my loved ones again! I am thankful for this experience and I can't wait to see how God will shape the rest of our futures together.

Until we meet again, Auf Wiedersehen!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

B2 Week Two & German in the Finale!!

Greetings Reader,

This past weekend has been enjoyable!

Sunday I was able to conduct my first personal interview with an older couple in the congregation concerning the time during the DDR/GDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republic/ German Democratic Republic). It was a communist regime that ruled from 1949-1990 in Germany after the Second World War. There were many conversations by politicians and political policies that seemed to look like democracy, but it was definitely not a democracy.

I learned about the poor economic conditions that existed in East Germany. One could only afford what one needed to live, but one had to wait in long lines just to get what you needed. Some were disappointed by the time it got to them because what they needed no longer was in supply. Things like TVs, cars, and sporty shoes were difficult to come by and they were expensive. One had to make many choices and sacrifices in order to get what you wanted. Above all, connections with people in the East and West was the most important factor. If you had connections in West, you were able to get what you needed "comfortably". That is, if you were not discovered by the Stasi ( State Security). I also asked if there existed a difference between the Stasi and the Gestapo. There isn't too much different between these two organizations, but the following: The Gestapo were more aggressive and less organized. The Stasi were more organized, better equipped with modern technology, and less recognizable. One was able to identify a person that worked for the Gestapo more than one who worked for the Stasi. After the reunification of the East and West, a common question that was asked in job interviews, especially in the East, was whether or not you worked for/ were affiliated with the Stasi. The only really positive thing that the couple said was good in the schools during the DDR that in their opinion is now seldom in the schools is discipline. Discipline was stricter and better in the schools during the DDR time than today. That is a debate can be looked into for a different purpose but it was a piece of information that I will reflect upon as I become a teacher.

These week has been Test Training! My teacher decided to help train us to take the test that the Goethe Institut gives at the end of every course. I am not taking this test because I must take a German Praxis Test when I return to Wisconsin which will count directly towards my licensure. Thankfully, the Goethe Institut's format is almost exactly like the Praxis Test I will have to take when I return. It has been a challenging Test Training Week, but I find it extremely necessary because it shows where I am doing well and where I need to improve and why I made the mistakes that I did.

Germany is in high spirits as we wait for Sunday! Sunday is a special day for Germany because the German Fußball (soccer) team plays Argentina in the WM Finale. Both teams are really good, but we are hoping that Germany wins and becomes Weltmeister( World Master)--title given to the team that wins this world wide tournament.

What am I looking forward to this next weekend and week? This Saturday, I will have the opportunity to travel to Prague with a group from the Goethe Institut for a day. Sunday is the soccer game and the pastor of the congregation is having his Farewell Service. Pastor Rehr is moving to Hamburg with his family and the choir has prepared a Bach Cantata for the service. It has been quite a challenge but a really cool experience for me to participate in with the choir.


This link will take you to Youtube where you will hear the version of the Cantata that we will be singing this Sunday. Next Thursday I will also have the opportunity to conduct an interview with an elder in the congregation who was born in 1937. He lived during the time when Hitler and the Nazis took power, during the Second World War, and afterwards when Communism was in control. I'm really looking forward to this interview because I will be able to ask questions not only about the DDR but also about Hitler and the Second World War. His name is Georg and his wife is Christiana. Georg and I will also have the opportunity to travel to Zwickau next Thursday.

It is crazy to think that my time here in Germany is coming to a pleasant end, but I'm looking forward to coming home. Thank you family, my girlfriend, and friends for your support of my summer study in Germany. I have learned so much already and I continue to learn more and more each day. When you have more questions, please feel free to email me or wait until I return to talk with me in person.
Until we meet again-- Auf Wiedersehen!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July in the B2 level!!

First day in my new B2 classroom!!!

It was awesome!! I have 12 really good classmates and a really good teacher!
First day was introductions and the discussion topic was Heimat (home/homeland).
It was a Fitting and comfortable topic to discuss on the first day of class!

B2 is a more challenging class level because you are no longer allowed to mime your answers or use English as German word Substitutes... the real work begins!
Goal: Being able to clarify/explain anything and everything in German and only German.
Goal: Being able to clarify/explain/discuss/ Interpret complex texts.
These are just the start of what I will be able to do--this is definitely setting me up for success to be able to be a German teacher in the United States.

My class now is no longer in the mornings, but the afternoon into the evening. It goes from 1:30pm-6:00pm. Wednesdays will be long days because I will have choir rehearsal afterwards. For example, yesterday I had choir rehearsal right after I got done with class. I was not able to eat dinner until 8:30pm. It was a little late and I was pretty tired, but I didn't have any homework so it worked out just fine.

If you have any questions concerning my class or anything in Dresden/Germany, please feel free to contact me!
Stay tuned!

Fourth Week of Classes


The last week of my first course at the Goethe Institut was most fulfilling! It was crazy knowing that I've formed friendships with my classmates over the past couple of weeks. Now many of them have left to go back to their homes and the others will be with me in the next level in July.

The last day of class we decided to pay respect to our teacher. She has been a really teacher and she helped us all grow significantly in only a matter of weeks. Together we purchased flowers and Lindt chocolate (most favored by Sebastian, my friend from Switzerland). Cool fact: Lindt Chocolate is a company founded and produced out of Switzerland! Even we are all adults, my teacher always called us each day-- "Liebe Kinder"-- "dear children".

After school ended, I had free time on my hands. What does a guy like me do in his free time? More homework! lil Yeah I've been working on revising two film reviews and composing a 13 page research paper on the Germany during the DDR (1947-1990). I am also preparing my conversational questions that I will use in three separate Interviews with three different individuals concerning life in the DDR and the reality of the Stasi. Staci= Staatssicherheit-- they were responsible for knowing everything and anything that went on in the DDR as part of a "security protocol". They were more of a continuation of the Gestapo--only now with better technology. During my free time, I went into a Stasi Museum for only 2 euros. It was crazy to imagine what occured in the Stasi complex in Dresden. It was crazy to know that it was real--it really happened and... I got to go into the cell where prisoners sat. I got to be in conferences rooms where the Administrators of the Stasi complex in Dresden once sat and discussed the business of their cruel trade. Imagine only being allowed one shower per week and only for 10 minutes. Imagine being kept in solidary confinement in a pitch black cell--no light--no bathroom(you had to be nice and corporative to use the bathroom)-- and you could be kept their up to a Maximum of 42 days straight. Imagine that you weren't allowed to talk or see any other prisoner in the facility---just in case one of your family members was also there. It wasn't until 1990 that the Stasi were demolished and their archives opened to the public.

What could finish off the free time then swimming in the Elbe?!? It was refreshing! Afterward my German father and I were hunger... He is a bit of a scavenger. We asked some young adults, who were celebrating on the Elbe, if we could eat some of their food. They were more than compliant because they were going to throw it away. I had a couple of good brats with Senf(mustard).

Guess what!! It's already July!! Tomorrow starts my last class at the Goethe Institut in level B2!! I'm moving up in the world! I miss my family and friends in USA. I am ready to finish my course and head home. It has been a good journey here, but I am needing to get back...so I can go back to school ;) #Year-roundschooling!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pictures of Dresden and Meißen

Welcome to Meißen!

Week Three of Classes: Goethe Institut Dresden

Monday was a busy day at school and after school, the business did not stop. I met up with a woman , , from the congregation that I attend in Dresden, at the Semperoper--the main opera house in Dresden and the most famous. Betina--the woman from the congregation works at the Semperoper and gave me a free tour of the opera house. It was the first time that I have had a real tour of an opera--especially a opera house in Europe. The architecture of the opera house was stunning and it was crazy to think that I was following the steps of others for hundreds of years before me. The coolest part of the tour for me was when we finally sat inside the opera house itself--the seats where people view the stage. I sat in the seat where the Prince of Dresden would normally sit! It was awesome! I couldn't believe it--I sat in the seat of royalty! It was an amazing privilege for me! After the tour, I had coffee with Betina and her colleague at the Opera house. We discussed what I was doing in Dresden and how my studies are going. Betina's colleague is also a German teacher so she was more than happy to learn that I wish to teach German when I return to the United States. Do you think I was done learning for the day? Far from it! Betina took me on a tour of the Altstadt which included the following: der Zwinger, die Fraunenkirche, der Schloss, die Hofkirche, and few other stops along the way. It was great to receive a tour from a woman who was born in Dresden and has lived in Dresden her whole life! She was very proud of the history of Dresden and loved that I wanted to learn about her home. I made it home just in time to see Germany win!

Tuesday= Phonetics day!!! After class, I attended an extra Phonetics class! We spent the time practicing and learning new.... TONGUE TWISTERS[ZUNGENBRECHER].

Wednesday was choir rehearsal and Friday was a Jugendkreis [youth/teen bible study] on the Elbe River!! We ate pizza afterwards and went on a bike ride around Dresden! It is wonderful to be part of their youth program at the church! I've made new friends and they are super friendly to everyone.

Saturday was an exciting adventure for me! :) Operation: LEIPZIG!!! I traveled in the morning to Leipzig with a group from the Goethe Institut to tour the main highlights of the city and have some free time to explore ourselves. The day started out by viewing the Nicolai Kirche [Nicolai=Sankt Nicolai= our Christmas "Santa Claus"]. It was cool because a chamber orchestra was playing J.S. Bach when we walked into the church. It is a really historical and stunning church to witness! After we visited the Nicolai Kirche, we were able to have a panoramic view of Leipzig from the Panorama Center. Leipzig is so beautiful from up above!! There is an oncoming rivalry between Leipzig and Dresden as to which city is REALLY bigger... Leipzigers say that Leipzig is bigger... Dresdeners says that Dresden is bigger... yeah you can tell how that discussion goes every time. Fun Fact: It was the last day of BACH FEST in Leipzig when I was there. Therefore, when I visited the Thomaskirche, I was also able to stay for their final concert in their concert series at the church. The list of pieces performed were the following: Ave Maria LW E14 for organ, Adagio in D for organ,  Excelsior for organ, O virgo prudentissima by Josquin des Prez, Magnificat by Arvo Pärt, Ut Phoebi radius by Josquin des Prez, Bedenke by Rainer Lischka, Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, BWV 638, and finally Sei Lob und Herr dem hösten Gut BWV 117. The concert featured the following instrumentalists: Kammerchor Josquin des Prez and the Leipziger Barokorchester [Leipzig Baroque Orchestra]. Fun music lover quiz question: The alto part of the Sei Lob und Herr dem hösten Gut was performed by a man. Do you know the term for that refers to a male singer who sings the alto arias?

Well, that has been my adventures in Dresden thus far! I pray for my family, my beloved, and my friends back in the States! I have learned so much already here and I pray that I continue to learn more. I can't wait to return home and see all of my loved ones again! Until we meet again, take care!

Week Two of Classes: Goethe Institut Dresden

Guess what?!? Monday, the 9th of June, I did not have class! Today was Pfingstmontag! The Pentecost church holiday is celebrated throughout Germany. Restaurants and shops are closed today, or at the very least, only open for a partial day. It was nice to have a day of recovery after a fun-filled first week of class. 

Tuesday's cultural activity was Konversation "conversation" hour. This was a separate class held for individuals who wanted to come and practice speaking German with each other [outside of regular class time]. It was really fun because we spent the time discussing stereotypes that other cultures have concerning Germany. The teacher for this hour was born in Germany and lives in Germany still--very authentic source! That evening was also a film night! We watched "Der rote Kakadu". It was a film produced not too long ago concerning teenagers during the end of the DDR time. It follows a teenager who loves this girl, but love is complicated in this film. She is in a heartless relationship with another man, but wishes to be with the main character. Towards the end of the film, the young- longing to be together- couple wishes to live in the West. The film ends in tragedy. Our young protagonist makes it the West Berlin and waits for the love of his life to come shortly after. He waits and waits...The radio shouts deliberately that the Wall of Berlin has been taken down. He goes to Checkpoint Charlie in the hopes that the love of his life will be there, but she never comes. Fun fact: There is a scene in the movie that shows the Opera house setting up for a performance. Painters are running all over the place being productive and industrious... my German father was one of the painting extras in the film! 

Wednesday was choir rehearsal and Friday we traveled to Hellerau. Hellerau is a very quaint village. It is not even necessarily considered a city but more of a village. Hellerau contains a lot of modern architecture and that is what makes Hellerau famous in this part of Germany. The whole village is a working village which means that the majority of the population of Hellerau works at the factory for modern furniture in the central part of the town. There are very few people who live in Hellerau that do not work at the furniture factory.