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!