- having time during the Faschingsferien to meet with a few friends, including a new one. My neglected Sprachpartnerin, Hedda, came here for coffee and we talked nonstop for three hours, I met Asaad, one of my former students, for tea at his apartment to talk about his upcoming visit to Esslingen (see below), and I met three times for several hours with the teacher who took over my class for two weeks while I sojourned in Esslingen teaching this year's Sheboygan exchange students before they started school at the Gymnasium.
- spending an evening with our neighbors, who, to thank us for a very small favor we did for them while they were in Austria, brought us Bergkäse straight from the Alm (mountain farm) which was absolutely to die for. Although M and I are not the most social of people, we are very glad we have gotten to know our neighbors.
- teaching the exchange students from my home town who are spending five months in Esslingen. I'd done this last year as well and enjoyed the experience, and I didn't know if it would be as fun and rewarding as it was last year. It was! These are great students, very interested and interesting, and I was glad to have the chance to get to know them. We learned in the classroom for about 90 minutes each morning, and then we went into town for some hands-on learning. They were tasked with buying bus and train tickets and stamps, shopping for picnic food at a fruit and vegetable store, a supermarket, a butcher, and a bakery, finding various buildings around town during a Schnitzeljagd (scavenger hunt), and learning some history specific to Esslingen.
- on one of our last days I had invited two of my former students from Syria and a friend of theirs to meet us in Esslingen for an interview of sorts with the American students. Everyone enjoyed the activity, based on the feedback they gave me, and one of the American students wrote a blogpost about it.
- After the American students headed home, I showed my Syrian friends around Esslingen. I told them stories - the kind tour guides tell - and showed them pretty views of the city. I told them about Maultaschen and the Devil's visit to Esslingen, showed them the Stadtkirche, explained some history of the Reformation in Esslingen, showed them a Stolperstein... If they enjoyed the afternoon half as much as I did, it was a good day!
- meeting meine liebe Gastmutter for lunch and a long chat in Esslingen.
- spending two weeks (minus the weekend in between) with my Schwiegermutter, since I stayed with her while teaching the Americans.
- receiving an email just last night from my first best friend, whom I haven't seen in years though we've kept in contact via snail mail, with details of her and her husband's September trip to southwestern Germany! They'll be able to stay with us for a weekend and explore the area before her husband attends a conference in Freiburg.
- current events from the homeland. I hate to say it, but batshit crazy really is becoming the new normal. I recently recalled how ridiculous I thought it was that the potus and Sean Spicer both either a.) don't understand verb tenses in English, or b.) are unaware that Frederick Douglass is deceased and has been since 1895. The insanity of almost every day since then makes that detail seem almost cute.
The potus and his team are openly targeting the environment, the sick and needy, the elderly who are not wealthy, kids in need of free/reduced school lunches, the LBGTQ community, all media that isn't Fox or Breitbart, Planned Parenthood & women's health, Muslims, individuals and travelers from predominantly Muslim countries, struggling college students especially freshmen, (illegal) immigrants... They are turning the U.S. into a very ugly place, in my view.
- ending my latest Integrationskurs two days ago. Of course it's nice to be able to sleep in longer and have more free time - to get our house back in order! But at the same time I really enjoy teaching and like my students very much. Truly, every single one of them. Some are more advanced and more motivated (and punctual) than others, but every one of them has a pleasant personality, do whatever it is I have planned on any given day, and seem to appreciate my efforts. Each of them has made me smile, and they were the reason I went to school every day with a positive attitude. Ever since I started teaching more than a year ago, there has never been a day when I headed off to school wishing I could have stayed home. I can't say that about my years of teaching teenagers in Wisconsin.
- losing a friend (and I do not use that term lightly), having no idea why. I'm quite sorry about it, because I truly enjoyed this person's company and interaction.
Some cool things are coming up in April and May, and since I'm not actively teaching - my next Integrationskurs will probably begin at the end of June - I may have more time for blogging! Spring is here, and my goal in the next few weeks is to get outside more!
Have a great April!