Saturday, July 30, 2016

World War II History in Nurnberg

Ninety percent of Nurnberg was destroyed during World War II. In some ways, walking the streets of Nurnberg is an illusion because practically none of the buildings are old since they have all been rebuilt to look old.  How strange to think my country was the cause of this destruction.  
Just as intense was our visit to Memorium Nurnberger Prozesse- Courtroom 600 (location of of the Nurnberg trials following World War II) and to the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelande (Documentation Center Nazi Rally Grounds).   Seeing the site where the United States played such an instrumental part in the Nurnberg Trials gave me such pride in my country for helping to bring to justice so many war criminals. Walking the same rally grounds where Hitler hosted rallies consisting of more than 100,000 party members chilled me to the bones. 
An interesting question has been posed to the German people and subsequently posed to our group:  What do you do with the large buildings, specifically this 11 acre  Nazi party rally site, that have a difficult history?  Do you demolish them?  Do you memorialize them? Do you turn them into a museum?  Do you repurpose them?  The 11 acre site was considered a sacred site by Hitler to be used once a year.  The Germans have decided that it would be far too expensive to demolish the site so they have determined to use it in a way that would have offended Hitler:  for rock concerts, as a public park, for wedding pictures, car races, football--ANYTHING to show that it is NOT a sacred space. 
I am in awe at how willing the German people are to deal with their past while moving forward. 


Schools in Germany

The school system in Germany differs greatly from that in the United States. We have had the privilege of visiting three schools: two outside of Munich and one in Nurnberg.  One school was an all girls school gymnasium geared towards preparing the young ladies for university. The other two schools were vocational schools: a berufuschule and a realschule. The German system encourages students to pick their track by about the age of 12 or 13.  In the vocational track, by the time students leave school at the age of 18, they will have had an internship experience spanning three years with one company and a job waiting for that person in the same company upon graduation. Studying the German school system makes me question whether or not we are doing right by our students who would be happier NOT going to university. Are we truly preparing our students for the future?


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Hidden Gem: the village of Kaufbeuren


Thanks to the Goethe Institut of Washington, DC, 16 teachers from Canada and the United States have been invited to spend two weeks in Germany learning about World War II and contemporary Germany. Thank you, Transatlantic Outreach Program, for this unique and educational opportunity.

 What a fantastic way to begin our travels in Germany! Our first full day was spent in the village of Kaufbeuren,  a small town hidden in the foothills of the Alps in Barvaria.  This small town of  about 43,000 people was undamaged during  World War II, so the buildings and setting is gorgeous. We met with high school students who are refugees from all over the world but most were from Eritrea.  We spent the morning asking questions and learning many life lessons from these strong individuals.  In the afternoon, we watched a parade that told the story of this village. More than 1000 children participated. The name of this festival is called Tanzelfest. Are visit  ended with a meeting in the Townhall hosted by the mayor and his wife. What an honor!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Seventh Graders Share Asia and Africa through Silk Road Market and Shadow Puppet Show

Students wrapped up their year of learning about the geography of Asia and Africa through the creation of a Silk Road market with 11 stalls and the sharing of 8 shadow puppet stories.
Students created puppets with which to tell stories from Asia and Africa. The stories were performed for 6th graders, parents, and community members.
Being a Silk Road market, students had hand-crafted artifacts to trade with their guests.  Guests brought canned goods to trade.  Artifacts and services included rice balls, Matoke (east African stew), chai tea packets, Adinkra stamped folders, trade bead bracelets, Japanese calligraphy boxes, henna, origami, joomchi earrings, batik fabric squares, and hummus and carrots.  The event became a service learning project for the 7th graders-- we collected over 1,250 pounds of canned goods for the North Kingstown Food Pantry.
The Silk Road market was opened with drumming from Mr. Issa Coulibaly and the shadow puppet stories were punctuated with Taiko drumming from Paton sensei.






Seventh Graders Share Asia and Africa through Silk Road Market and Shadow Puppet Show

Students wrapped up their year of learning about the geography of Asia and Africa through the creation of a Silk Road market with 11 stalls and the sharing of 8 shadow puppet stories.
Students created puppets with which to tell stories from Asia and Africa. The stories were performed for 6th graders, parents, and community members.
Being a Silk Road market, students had hand-crafted artifacts to trade with their guests.  Guests brought canned goods to trade.  Artifacts and services included rice balls, Matoke (east African stew), chai tea packets, Adinkra stamped folders, trade bead bracelets, Japanese calligraphy boxes, henna, origami, joomchi earrings, batik fabric squares, and hummus and carrots.  The event became a service learning project for the 7th graders-- we collected over 1,250 pounds of canned goods for the North Kingstown Food Pantry.
The Silk Road market was opened with drumming from Mr. Issa Coulibaly and the shadow puppet stories were punctuated with Taiko drumming from Paton sensei.






Saturday, May 28, 2016

Life on board the R/V Endeavor

Comfortable!  Snug!  Practical!  Determined!  Focused!  So many words to describe life on board this magnificent ship.  This 40 year old, 185 ' ship, owned by the National Science Foundation, and operated by the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, allows for scientists from around the country to conduct experiments in the Atlantic Ocean.  I found my berth to be quite cozy with a shared bunk and a private toilet and shower.  The galley created meals fit for a king, with a lounge equipped with an extensive library and video library.  The main lab provided a focal point for scientists to congregate and work.  Two additional lab spaces enabled scientists to work without tripping over each other.  Rounding out this well-equipped ship was a highly trained crew of 12.
The Main Lab




Science at Night

I knew in advance that we would be assisting the 5 scientists on board, but I was not prepared for the amount of work that had to be done at night.  The old adage of "time is money" held true on this journey because we did not have the luxury to wait until daylight to complete the many experiments and tasks that had been planned for this voyage.  Our first night we spent attaching fish tags to a mooring that was dropped off the fantail at about 2:00 am.  I sneaked in a few hours of sleep but my bleary eyes were still in awe of all the activity and science that happened the first night and each night after.