Thursday, June 23, 2011
Row, row, row your boat, gently down the Rhine.
we are overdue for an update and this week has been jam-packed with activities. On Thursday we enjoyed improv theater with one of the instructors of the nationally acclaimed youth KRESCH theater. The students were an absolute riot. They simply had no inhibitions as we played out various scenarios. The most common theme of their comedy routine was their take of the French flight crew from our Air France flight via Paris. We had no idea that they had been so observant of French accents and mannerisms. After the workshop had concluded, the instructor approached us to tell us how wonderful the students were and how much fun it had been to work with them.
As you knew from our first entry, we partook in a Rhine river tour downstream to oggle at castles and fortresses and the so oh-so-famous Lorelei. We gathered on a rainy sunday morning and travelled two hours south on a charter bus to board a Rhine river boat that carried us downstream past ruins of fortresses and some of Germany's most recognizable landmarks. The host families were invited along for this first adventure and it was wonderful to engage in getting acquainted with one another so early on in the program. Can you believe it, not one of the natives had ever been on a Rhine river tour? This goes to show how we tend to take the treasures of our own home state for granted everyday - have you ever visited the dunes in Indiana? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Dunes_State_Park)
The parents busied themselves with exchanging trip and entertainment ideas for their host children, while the students, along with their host siblings, were to be found on the upper deck taking pictures and having a grand time huddled together in one large group. They laughed and joked and not soon after we had left shore, the rain stopped and the sun cast its light on the river rock. We made our way past the Lorelei, and, you would have laughed, the cameras were "chck"-ing noisily as the giant ROCK moved by. The students found it to be spectacular - moreso than any other ROCK, because they had become familiar with the famous poem. At the end of a comfortable two hours we arrived at the foot of the hill upon which the Marksburg stands. After a group picture we made our way through the old city of Braubach with its quaint and rustic timber-framed houses all the way up the fortress walls. It was a hard hike, but that made the journey all the more rewarding, when we finally arrived on the terrace before the castle. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch on the fortres walls and made use of the time to check out the goods offered at the gift shop. We then explored the fortress on a guided tour. It was simply spectacular. The mediaeval toilet has since remained a point of great interest among the students. When we finally concluded, we made our way to the parking lot, where our chariot was awaiting our return to take us back to Krefeld (and to bed!). It was a wonderful trip and hopefully the students will remember this adventure fondly.
On Monday we had our first sports day and since the weather was still questionable, we planned an afternoon at the swimming pool. We started off in the indoor pool, comepeting for the title of Best Cannonball. Since there is an outdoor facility with three super slides, we decided as a group to brave the cold and head for the ladders. What a strange sensation to swim while it is raining, but it was hilarious as we catapulted down the winding slides. Our laughter and shouts of MARCO - POLO attracted the curiousity of the locals - we have caused quite stir in these parts. :)
On Tuesday we were invited to the city-hall for brunch with the vice-mayor of Krefeld (Mrs. Meinke. http://www.krefeld.de/C1256D44002DCFAF/html/A2BBB7676EC94773C1256F35003158DB?Open). Before we entered, photographers of the local papers took our group pictures in front of the American flag that had been hoisted in honor of our visit. The mayor greeted us generously and took her time in answering all of the thought-provoking and mature questions that the students had prepared ahead of time. We then concluded our visit by signing the city's guestbook to document our visit in the Krefeld archive. We each received books of Krefeld as official gifts from the city. We then returned to our school (which is located immediately next to the city hall) and enjoyed a long break before we started our first session of theater and choir. It was a long but wonderful day.
Today we were off of school for the state sanctioned holiday Corpus Cristi. Many students had made plans with their host families and some travelled to the Netherlands or nearby towns for a short family trip.
Since our arrival the students have enjoyed our original holiday, called Doenerstag, which we celebrate at least once a week. The name derives from the German word for Thursday, Donnerstag, and Germany's most famous fast food, called a Doener, and marks the occasion when we eat as a group at our favorite Doener shop just around the corner. The students sneak this snack as often as they can, in addition to the Spaghetti ice-cream. Check out the Doener at the following, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doner_kebab .
Classes will resume tomorrow and we plan to go to the Krefeld Zoo. Next tuesday the students will join their host siblings in school, so they can gain impressions of the German school system.
We hope this update finds you well and satisfies some of your curiousity. Best,
Your Krefeld Team