Late Post: Brandenburger Tor

During Paul Veigl weekend visit in Potsdam. We walked through Berlin and visited Potsdam to catch drinks.

Paul is a good friend of mine whom I met in South Africa during his one year voluntary visit at Kliptown Youth Program (KYP). He was also teaching me German at an A1 level.

We have ever since being good friends, exchanging thoughts about various topics such as politics, university, life, history and all that is in between.

These pictures reflect and remind me of his visit and stop at Brandenburger Tor (to read more),  is a structure in Berlin, Germany. It is the only remaining gate through which people used to enter Berlin. It was built between 1788 and 1791. It is located between the Platz des 18. März and the Pariser Platz. Nearby to the north is the Reichstag building. During the Cold War, the Reichstag was in West Berlin, and the Brandenburger Tor in East Berlin (Wikipedia).

There is more to see. Berlin is an ideal place to stay in.

Feature image credit: creative commons/ Wikipedia

 

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A SOUTH AFRICAN VOICE: MY DONALD TRUMP-THOUGHTS

Inspired by aunt, Seri Wa ga Duiker, whom I thank for her support and believing in my work.

What comes to mind when I think of Mr President-elect of the United States? 

My first departure is that anything is possible. And, I  mean literally anything is possible on earth. Such as moving from knowing nothing about politics but business and still be president, slamming and belittling women using sexist phrases, and all sorts of threat provoking utterances.

I have found US election results telling. I hope to write this not from a anti-American stance or rather “not so much an American fan anyway” but from a more light headed perspective.

What a turning point in global history. What a telling contradiction to majority of Americans who at first aired their views poking Trump as villain and smearing him with tags, only to elect him as next president.

Nonetheless, there are three points I would like to build from the main point I made that anything is possible.

1. It is possible to be a business mogul, not knowing much about politics and still be president!

I suspect and probably would get this correct, Trump is a business brain who has cut through Washington’s House with no public office experience whatsoever. I personally think I am not comfortable with wealthy individuals using this to they advantage to be in power or even to get to any social level if they want to. It sounds clearly to me that money can buy anything perhaps also intangible things. It then becomes clear that if you are less of Trump´s financial level, you have work had to make impossible things to happy. Simply because you are stratified in the system.

Although Trump is totally a newcomer, I suppose also in the political arena, his experience as a business mogul, however, comes with some transferable skills. For instance, executive and global leadership are interlinked and so there are some important lessons to be learned from business. He could still make use of these skills but I hope so, with the courage to listen to others. In this space, I am happy that he Trump will be surrounded by advisers to are experienced in their jobs.

My fear is people in power given their financial influence, which in a long run can favour the rich and sideline the poor. Or, to favour him and jeopardise the real purpose of a democracy. Democracy, simply defined as a “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system”. Also equally important in its goals is the protection of the human rights of all citizens and a rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

2. It is possible to be so called “evil” then all holy and still be president!

Because the president is elected by its citizens in its state or rather country. I find it terribly confused a majority of US citizens stand for. Is it hate speech, mocking and diminishing women and racial and threatening utterances? It is all confusing and may to a large extend sending a skewed view to the world.

How easy I have found it in this world to be the bad guy, then the good guy. I suspect the honey moon stage is going to come to pass and maybe, the worst kind of leadership will start. I am not sure if someone showed this kind of personality wont reveal it again.

3 It is also possible to be a Trump-kind-of guy, being on a pathway of compromising a democracy and still be president!

With a president, it is just possible to compromise democracy and my first say it all. Actually, democracy has been seen as difficult after these election. Because democracy is the people themselves.

Maybe, I need not say much about Trump but to start question American about this decision they made through casting their votes. What a choice…that has proven anything to be possible under the sun.

OUR RE-UNION 

I dedicate this post to Paul Veigl, Kimon Schmidt and Kamogelo Masoko who have always been my friends despite distance and time.  

Although this piece serves as a late post, I am still keen to pen it. It is effortless. And I suspect, this too is worth writing. I have found some kind of new perspective about live and knowing people and being a part of their lives, vice versa.

I would like to think that life is about been given chances and to amount the same to others. Not any given point in our lives did we know we will see each other again. Beyond imaginations, we only hoped but this past weekend it came to pass.

I have been given a chance to see my friends but at first were my German teachers back in South Africa. These are Kimon from Münich and Paul from Düsseldorf. Back in 2014, they were volunteers in a Non-Governmental Organisation called Kliptown Youth Program, popular known as KYP. This is a primary and secondary school education orientated organisation, or rather with a holistic approached structured organisation to support young people living in Kliptown. Included in it is cooking meals, offers computer classes, does sports and other additional activities. I met Kimon and Paul there who had dedicated themselves to spending a year on an exchange voluntary service, assisting in whatever possible ways. I suppose this kind of program is also known as a north-south exchange program.

But, one initial reason I got to know them was that they also offered German courses in the organisation. And then, and like before I came to Germany, I was a tutor at KYP: This place was also a place I can extend my hand to doing something in my broader community of Soweto (South Western Townships). I landed myself to a English reading project where I taught children from Grade 1 to 4 how to read, given the gap of the inability to read between this classes. This was my very best project in the space of doing humanitarian work. I will be forever grateful for the platform and of course the people who made it possible.

On that note, Kamogelo who literally introduced me to KYP after two years and six months that I worked for the department of Education also helping learners with school related things like home works, etc. Kamo is my friend and my brother with which our relationship has grown and has supricingly shown similar interests. For example we studied together at the university both studying our Bachelor degrees in Communication Science and also love volunteering in good initiatives like child related NGOs. I am pleased to have known him, to be encouraged and learn so much from him.

We have done much together. Kamo and I joined the German course with a burning desire to know an international language as media students. So, we did. He was given the opportunity to come to Germany last year and his term ends next week Tuesday the 15th of November. We have done our best to keep up our friendship dispite time and space via Skype and Facebook. And this is a take for me, to also know about  Germany from his view and how his year was.

Without expectations but anticipations, we hope to meet after over a year of not seeing each other here in Germany as I had already been given the opportunity to serve as a federal volunteer although in Berlin. He spent his year in Köln. We both devoted our time to learning the German language in a mist of so much we had still. The first year of learning came with great changes and consistent commitment.

Was it worth it?

I find it so because we have meet again. First in my home country, South Africa then home in Kimon and Paul´s home country. And of course were Kamogelo has earned himself a international work experience and a global perspectives.

Our reunion was planned shortly after some few days I landed here. I planned my autumn one week holidays to travel from Berlin to Aachen where I could meet Paul and spend three days with him. Its a beginning of a new semester and an academic year in Germany and perhaps this time sounds ideal to meet up before work piles up. Student live is great though. In three days starting off from Saturday evening to Wednesday morning this is how my days looks:

Travelling with public transport back and forth, any given time of the day…and, I literally mean it. Finding such transport convenience at odd times of the morning like 02:00 and 03:00 a.m is lit!

Then after a few days I visited Kamo in Köln. I found this interesting, looking forward to endless chats and doing a lot of working and being on the train like we used to in South Africa. A bit of craziness and fun.

Although my week was planned in this kind of fashion, the four of us set two days to spend together. Particularly the late Friday I had there. The plan was to have great chats, to have some drinks, to go around the city and to have fun.

Did we?

It was totally incredible seeing these guys. I am humble and I hope they had fun too.

This is a day I would not trade for anything. Every minute of laughter and everything we did in between was lit. A warm thank you.

 

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU………

…..Are you constructively and productively make use of your time. And yes, when you are having fun.

I am astonished about how today officially marks my first month in Berlin. It was only six weeks ago or so when I was told my departure is on the 14th of September. I had one week to set my things into order. You know, the packing and all. Before I knew it, my luggage was full and I was ready to leave home. It all happen so fast. Next think I knew, I was boarding for my first time flight to Berlin, inter-connecting flights at Zurich, Switzerland to my destination.

After some 13 hours or so, here I was…in Berlin meeting up with my host mother Julia who had been patiently waiting for approximately 20 minutes. What a good kicked started welcome and unpacking.

I have done so much for one month and I think included in this, is my many attempts to speak German. I have took in so much from everyone regarding the language. I have also seen much than I expected for one moth. A bit of moving around, trying new food, meeting new people, getting a hang of my new voluntary work and of course settling in.

Have I thought? I feel content. In my second week I felt like I had lived here before and like I knew my host family. It never so completely new. I am so free. I am home.

Given than its the end of my first month, I can say, I have settled. And here are typical things that are a proof of this:

  1. I rode the bike back home from work alone on my first day. I had only been shown by my host sisters my way there. Its relatively 20 minutes. I did it and I had no internet to navigate my way or even had a functional number to make calls. I probably took my own way back home somehow but I found it. This was epic.
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    Second Left: My bike is a new member in the Schad household

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    My friend helping me get from A to B, rain or not. 
  2. By end of my first week, I already had memorised and understood one prayer in German.
  3. I went to a store after about 2 days during my break to by a lip cream. Looking up things on my own and attempting to ask in stores can be a bit not easy and also funny but this is a good language practice.
  4. Like everyone else, rain does not stop one from using the bike. To be part of the community. I have also used the bike every single day to and back from work regardless. The more stronger I have felt.
  5. Travelling some 46 minutes by bus and then S-Bahn to central Berlin to meet a friend. It sounds complicated at some point but I have found this extremely easy. Thanks to my host mother who literally can explain to simplicity.
  6. Watching movies in German was always something I tried in South Africa but, I really did not enjoy it. This time my family invited me to join them watch a movie with their family friends. I mean…cinema right at home. The big screen, the sound, lights out and snacks. Without anticipation, I enjoyed this movie. I actually understood it more than I thought I would. Thanks too to my host father for giving my a brief heads up on its story line. I am sire the excitement also came about because there were scenes in South Africa, particularly in Cape Town. It was epic! It was comedy after all.
  7. It sounds like everything is nearly perfect and lit. But no, I nearly bumped into an old lady one morning on the bike to work. I was riding fast and trying so hard to be on time. She appeared from no where. I was wondering how possible this month could be so perfect without a mistake. Well, I did really did not bump her, I nearly did. I said I am sorry and found my focus again.

What a month! Bliss…lit and epic.

What is your view? Do you think I have settled in already?

 

LETS TALK FOOD: WHAT TO TRY AND WHAT NOT TO

In the days that I have been here, I have been asked the ‘How does the food taste in Germany?’question more than about my well being. Well, this serves as really not a problem for me. But a question of interest.

An academic doctor friend of mine during a breakfast chat cracked a joke before I left South Africa for Germany saying I probably need to leave town with some food enhancing concoctions. Alleging that German food is tasteless. Well, I would not crack the same joke. Or even, expand on it.

My experience here thus far with food has really been much of my choice, therefore, playing safe. If you know what I mean. But, at the same time, I have also tried much to much for 22 days that I have been here. My thought is, I have had the worst food nightmare and the greatest days with food.

For me, a good typical day is a potato or vegetable day- trying all sorts of veggies out there. Often with different colours I have not seen before. Like purple carrots, purple tomatoes, some awkwardly shaped kohlrabi and so much delicious dark bread. A typical bad day meal may have included trying something meaty but ewyyy sorry, it has pork. But this is the least.

Five things I suggest you try when you are in Germany are: 

  1. Obviously the bread

Big up to Germany for its creation of some 300 or so types of bread, from the Vollkornbrot, the Roggenbrot and the legendary Pumpernickel, to mention just a few. These come in different sizes and prices. Included in these are a variation of what we call rolls or buns in South Africa, here termed as Brotchen.

brot-22. Kräuter-Tomate Streich

This a must try. This is a tomato made bread spread. Looks like fish paste but definitely not it and does not smell like it. Simply because it is not fish. It is tomato. The kids love it. I recently started liking it.

streich

3. Schinkeknacker 

This is more like dried meat. It looks like sausages. Oh well, they are sausages but dried. More like biltong. Biltong in this case is far harder. Schinkeknacker is not so hard but really delicious. Just watch out if they do not contain pork contents, if you are allergic to it. I am allergic to pork and often they are pork flavoured. Anyway, it seems to me that Germany is not only a bread country but also a place where people like pork meat.

schinkeknacker

4. Marmalade

If you have a sweet tooth and prefer sweet bread spreads, try Marmalade. It generally refers to a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar. It can be produced from lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, and other citrus fruits, or any combination of them. It looks like jam as we know it. I at least call it jam but it has pieces of fruit in it and is sweeter than regular jam.

marmalade

 

5. Kräuter Salz 

This is not food but thank God kräuter Salz, literally flavoured salt with herbs can help give tasteless food  or rather unusual food some taste. If you find yourself in such a predicament, ask for kräuter salz.

krauter-salz

Things I suggest you try, but were my day-mare 

Knäckebrot

This is worth a asking to Swedish people, who invented this and what the hell is this? Jokingly, of course. Knäckebrot in German, Crispbread in English is a flat and dry type bread containing mostly rye flour. They are light and keep fresh for a very long time. They are also a staple food. However, in recent years there has been renewed interest in crispbread in the Nordic countries. This is a no no for me. But do not get this wrong, cripbread is available in South Africa. I avoided it there and, I am more certain that I wont eat it here.

k-brot

Grünkohl

This is one of many German traditional meals. I tried it at Harz in a company of wonderful German gentlemen and women who were aiming to teach me other things about their home country and their culture. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately Grünkohl, known as kale or leaf cabbage is a darker and thicker type of cabbage. It is also stronger in taste. It was great trying a little bit of it, but thanks but no thanks. A good note is, this is healthy.

g-kohl

THE FUN IN WEIRD

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On the 29th of September, which then was to be my second week of work, we celebrated “Michaeli Tag”. We did so with the children, as I am placed at a kid orientated voluntary working space. The day was aimed at giving the children a real feel of concepts about this day and why the day ought to be celebrated.

I have found it weird at first. Reason being, that the story behind this day is oddly long but its shortened version is that people (more or less often youth people) on this day fight the evil in the world by eating a dragon baked bread and red grape juice as a symbol of its blood. This evil is said to have been brought by God to the earth. This was actually one of His seven angels. So, this evil invaded the earth therefore, people have to fight it out of the world again, given the need of peace and all good sorts of things.

Preparing for this day and celebrating Michaeli Tag

My colleagues baked the dragon bread with the learners and the process was fun. Wheat was collected, then crashed to take out its seeds. Afterwards these seeds were then put in a wooden grinder in an attempt to produce flour. Which yes, the kids did themselves with a few instructions to get them going. Finally, we got a little flour, allowing us to bake some bread. And most importantly, I am pleased that the children understand the hard work that comes with baking bread and the need to work hard to be able to put some food on the table for all to eat.

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A cart was filled with all the goodies we were going to need for this festivity. This included blankets for sitting down, red juice and water, fruits, bread boards, cutlery and many other things.

The dragon was cut and brutally slaughtered. The blood was drunk. And oh…this was just all a play. We pretended that our dragon bread was a real one and that the red grape juice was its blood. Although this sounds weird, it was also fun.In der Tat Der Drache Brot war köstlich (In fact, the dragon bread and blood was delicious).

Setting such an imagination and teaching children to make a distinction between good and bad, to work on doing good and to also consciously and internally fight the evil in each of them was incredible. Evil in this case does not mean that human beings are evil but means that the world was inherited evil, therefore, one has to search in themselves other than in other people.

Its not a finger pointing exercise but a self introspection kind of approach. This is done by going out on a picnic, but several ways can be initiated.

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MY FEET ARE IN BERLIN, GERMANY

A global perspective. I am privileged to tell my story and to be afforded the ink to pen my journey in Potsdam/ Berlin,  Germany. 

You are probably wondering why am I here. After close to two years of having an interest in learning the German language and back to back pursuing what I have termed humanitarian work, particularly working with primary school children at various non-govermental organisations, I found myself motivated to spend a year overseas to expand this interest I have. In a general way, to serve others, and to some extent, to also bring in some positive impact. 

Through an exchange social service I am given the opportunity to do so. 

The year hopefully will come with the perks of learning the Germany culture and many other things. 

All these are many more other things I aim and intend show casing on this blog and I hope you find much interest in reading my posts. 

Recapping on my arrival, my first day is still well tattooed in my head with a very clean air weather, a super warm welcome, great food and more big smiles. 

I am writing this post literally after 10 thinking that I will wake up from this beautiful dream. I just realised, it is o dream, my feet are in Berlin. 

And this is my first impressions about getting here: 

1. Meeting my host family: Julia, Friedamann and their two amazing , funny and free spirited daughters, Sarah (14) and Hannah (12). They have made feel like I am home and indeed it is home. Their kindness and loving care has put a smile on my face ever since I got here, endless laughter and getting to know one another.  

2.Food: delicious bread- I am yet to eat different types of food here, which I have started exploring but I must say, the bread is on point and maybe every day can be bread day. 

3. Attending a welcome seminar at Hamburg.  This was a fantastic eye opening 3 days immediately when I got here. I met a lof people, city exploring and going out was lit. It was worth it. I will be sharing on this shortly. 🙂 

4. Going to my workplace – it often a bit nerve racking to go to your workplace during first days but I have been so curious about getting myself started and going so quick.  I was introduced to my workplace by my host mother who is a manager there the very same day I got here. It was great to meet the children and new colleagues.  

My first day was really lit. I enjoyed it. I not in a dream. This is really happening. I am on a path to having my slice of a global perspective.