“Even though we ourselves aren’t sick, the planet which we live on is, and we are protesting and fighting for it,” said one student. Continue reading →

via Student protesters worldwide skip class, hit the streets for Global Climate Strike — Global News

Summary: As many as 1.6 million people in 600 cities in Germany took part in the Fridays for Future demonstrations yesterday, with as many as 50,000 in Hamburg alone. Even in the town of Fucking in Austria there were thousands demonstrating!  The German government passed a sweeping bill designed to reduce CO2 significantly by 2030, including a carbon tax, reduced train fare, phasing out combustible engines and heating oil and the like.  Details can be found here: https://www.bild.de/politik/inland/politik-inland/klima-streik-kraftwerk-bei-hamburg-besetzt-alle-fridays-for-future-demos-live-64813308.bild.html

 

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Photo Flick 1989 Nr. 3: Oberbaumbrücke

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Co-written with sister column   bhc-logo-newest1

The third Photo Flick in connection with the Revolution 1989 is basically a throwback to 2010 and it takes us to the Oberbaumbrücke, which spans the River Spree on the east side of Berlin, between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. Built in 1896 under the direction of Otto Stahn, the bridge is one of Berlin’s key landmarks because of its gothic design. It’s a key crossing for subways (U-bahn) and car traffic. But it was one of the key symbols of division during the Cold War. From 1961 until the Fall of the Wall in November 1989, the concrete wall went right through the roadway portion of the bridge, and even though the structure was badly damaged and a truss span was built for U-bahn traffic, that track was barricaded shut, thus almost effectively halting passage to West-Berlin except through the border controls on the Kreuzberg side of the bridge.  Shortly after the Wall fell, the bridge was rebuilt, piece by piece to resemble its original form before World War II.

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View of the Oberbaumbrücke from the TV Tower. The East Side Gallery is on the left side of the Spree. 

Regardless of whether it can be seen along the river or even from the TV-Tower from a sniper’s view, looking at the bridge today, almost nothing is left of the Wall that cut the bridge (and Berlin) into half. Much of the area that used to be heavily patrolled with tanks, watch towers and guards have been heavily built with modern buildings with businesses, large and small, occupying the area. One of them buildings houses Universal Music Company, part of the Universal Studios consortium based in the States.

Yet it doesn’t mean the relicts have disappeared altogether. Two important points of interest still exist and should be visited while in Berlin. The first one is the East Side Gallery, a 1300 meter (4300 foot) section of the Berlin Wall that features open air art; the sections created by over 100 artists both before and after 1989. The stretch is on the Friedrichshain side of the former Wall, stretching from the bridge to Ostbahnhof Railway Station. It was renovated recently (in 2010) and is open to the public. A watch tower is included as part of the exhibit, just as much as one at the bridge itself, which was sitting empty at the time of the photo but has most likely been removed.

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The former Watch Tower on the Friedrichshain side of the bridge. 

The Oberbaumbrücke is a symbol of architecture that has withstood the test of time and the history that includes years of division. For architects, artists and bridge lovers, it’s a work of art. For educators, it is a classic example of how it became a “Borders to Bridges” story in light of going from a divided Germany and Europe into a united one. For the rest, it’s a symbol of Berlin and how it brings people together from all aspects of life. It’s definitely one worth visiting.

 

More on the bridge’s history can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberbaum_Bridge

Information on the East Side Gallery and its paintings can be found here: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Side_Gallery

It’s part of the Tour Guide on the Bridges of Berlin, which you can click here:  https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/berlin-the-bridges-and-the-wall/

 

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Adam Fletcher’s How to be German

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This year marks 20 years that I’ve been living in Germany and making my living as an English teacher and a writer. Looking back at my arrival in Thuringia in 1999, there were no guides as how to speak German properly, no tour guides of unknown cities except those in Bavaria, Hesse and Baden-Wurttemberg (obvious because they were laden with American soldiers stationed there), and especially no detailed rules as to how to behave in Germany and immerse yourself into German culture, unless you have a German girlfriend- later turned wife, who is willing to show you the fine points to avoid making a fool out of yourself.  😉  ❤

But imagine you came to Germany all alone and clueless about the customs and culture. There are two ways to handle it:

You can be a fool and boast about being American, speaking loudly, getting drunk and speaking English as if you own the country (thank God we haven’t become the 51st State of the Union, especially given the current situation at the time of this posting).

Or you can inquire about the culture and immerse yourself into it while learning the language at the same time.

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Adam Fletcher has done the second. Having lived in Germany since 2007, the writer from Great Britain has been writing books on German culture for 12 years and how it has evolved and changed over time. But if there is one book that serves as a “starting point” in learning German culture and its language, but also getting a great laugh out of it, it would definitely be the guide on how to be German. Written in 2013, Fletcher gives you 50 points on how to immerse yourself in the culture in Germany. As a way of learning German, Fletcher has the points written in both languages, dividing the book into the English and the German halves, nonetheless, provides some humor in each of the points, adapted so that they are not lost in translation. The book is easy to read and easy to laugh about, just like the writer himself, as you can see in a TED talk special below:

Fletcher has followed up with part 2, written in 2016 because of changes that have been taking place in Germany due top current events and changes in the behavior of the country’s inhabitants and the environment in general.  How they have changed in terms of German customs, I have an activity for you to try for your amusement and discussion:

frage für das forum:

Take a look at the points Mr. Fletcher makes on how to become a German and integrate into Germany’s culture. Determine if they are true/ relevant or false /irrelevant or dependent on situation.  Mark them with the following letters:

 

  • Applicable, like it or not
  • Bunch of bullsh–; not true, fake, quatsch
  • Changed based on laws passed since 2013
  • Depends- depends on the situation and the person(s) you are interacting with
  • Eliminated: doesn’t exist anymore
  • Forgotten: exists but long forgotten
  • Exists; good for the culture

 

Good luck with the points and the discussion that follows. Feel free to comment in the Files’ page or on its facebook page.  🙂

 

Points made by Fletcher Your Opinion
Put on your houseshoes (Hausschuhe) when entering the house
Eat a long breakfast
Planning, Preparation and Process are key
Get some insurance, it can save your lives.
Dress seriously, no matter what occasion
Speak German, it’s the official language.
Denglish is in- Outgesourced, downgeloaded, upgegraded
Obey the red man- The German traffic light
Drink Apfelschorle
Drink mixed beverages
Eat German food
Know your potatoes (and how to make them)
Bring Kartoffelsalat (potato salad) to a gathering
Eat German bread.
“Mahlzeit” when meeting people
Hate the GEZ/ GEMA (the fees for TV and radio for public channels)
Say what you mean
Speak freely about sex.
Do nothing on Sundays
Watch Tatort- a criminal series that is seen Sundays at 8:15pm on public TV
Nothing is true unless you read it in the Spiegel magazine
Always send friendly greetings (Mit freundlichen Grüßen)
Always use „Prost!“ when making a toast. (Prost means Cheers)
Drink Bionade and buy “Bio-produkte”
Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!
Follow the rules, always!
Love your car.
Deal with “Klugscheisse” (smart-asses)
Interrogate jokes!
Don’t light your cigarettes from a candle
“Fenster auf Kippen” Windows in tilt format when opened.
Feel mixed about Berlin.
Hate the banana.
Hate the Saxony dialect.
Pick a Side and Respect the Divide (between East and West Germany)
Fahr Schwarz (Ride as a Stowaway).
Get qualified
Enlarge your CV (Resumé)
Find a “real” job
Fail at sarcasm.
Learn to enjoy bureaucracy.
Learn the German lingua expressions, such as Gut-gut, naja, ach so, doch, alles klar and und sonst so.
Practicality trumps everything
Travel seriously.
Know that birthdays are serious business
Watch “Dinner for One” on New Years Eve.
Forget anything you were ever told about fireworks
Hate “Schlager,” know every word in it.
Say “Tschüß!” (Good bye).

 

Afterwards, find out what should be added to the Top 50 for some aspects may be missing. From my own perspective, at least 10 additional points are missing, such as the following:

  1. The Autobahn is the new Daytona Speedway. Speed limits don’t apply.
  2. Dress up as native Americans with fireworks for a soccer game
  3. Die Bahn macht mich mobil (The German Railways drive me nuts).
  4. Learn the many usages of the word “doch.”
  5. Learn the hundred variants of sausages and beer
  6. Every window of a flat should have a Christmas arch (Lichterbogen) and pyramid.
  7. Flensburg points are no laughing matter, even when visiting Germany
  8. Always have carp during months which have the R in it.
  9. Smile when you are blitzed by the Gatsometer (Blitzer), have your money ready for photo-pickup.
  10. Never rent a flat, whose landlord is a cleaning firm.
  11. Know what “Grobmull” is so that you known when to trash your furniture.
  12. Miners parades at Christmas markets.
  13. Always wish someone a nice day, even if they hate your guts.
  14. Take “Jesus-freaks” seriously.
  15. Respect the quiet hours, regardless of holiday and birthday.

There are more to add but you have an idea. Some of the points may have been mentioned in the 2016 version and I’m sure Adam Fletcher has part 3 in the works, whose ideas I have may be added. 😉 While he has published a work on how to be British, it would be curious to find out what 50 points should be made on how to be an American. But that would take lots of time and traveling to achieve this feat, for even though the region do share this one key point: “Do NOT talk politics if you want to live a long life.”, each region and state has their set of 50 points. If the 50 points for the whole country is achieved and written, I will definitely be the first one to write (and make a critique) about it.  😉 🙂

 

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Adam Fletcher has a website that promotes his work which you can click here:

http://adam-fletcher.co.uk/

After living in Leipzig for many years, he now lives in Berlin.

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R.I.P. Cokie Roberts ~ 1943 – 2019

This post is dedicated in memory to another legend gone too soon. Cokie Roberts was a pioneer in broadcasting as she paved the way for women to join in the business. She was a professional and an insider in politics, questioning every decision made by politicians, asking rhetorical questions that makes any interviewee feel a bit uncomfortable to answer but forces the person to be truthful in front of the camera, and last but not least, spurns discussions among colleagues, friends and foes alike. Because of her, we have a large number of objective journalists and more female journalists today than 40 years ago. The Files would like to send our condolences to her husband and rest of the family on her loss. May she rest in peace and question the values of life today vs 40 years ago to Jesus. Amen. ❤

By Hook Or By Book

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Legendary journalist, author and historian, Cokie Roberts has passed away due to complications of breast cancer. She won numerous awards over the course of her career including three Emmys, and in 2008 was named a “living legend” by the Library of Congress. She was one of  the “Founding Mothers of NPR” and they tweeted this morning: “Roberts helped shape the public broadcaster’s sound and culture at a time when few women held prominent roles in journalism.” For me, Cokie Roberts was everything fair and responsible about journalism, and she was someone who inspired me to be a better person and speak out if I saw an injustice taking place. The world needs more women like her. She will be missed.

Here is my basic approach to life. I am a totally unpartisan human being. I don’t care which party has the right ideas—or which party has the wrong ideas. I…

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The 26 Letters that Spell Peace

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A while back, I ran across this small piece of advice, creatively written by a teacher who has expertise in dealing with politics and society, conflicts and adversity, as well as differences and misunderstandings. This person arranged this paragraph with the word of advice, in the order of the alphabet. 26 words, all 26 letters.  Have a look at this:

Always

Be

Cool.

Don’t have

Ego with

Friends and Family.

Give-up

Hurting

Individuals.

Just

Keep

Loving

Mankind.

Never

Omit

Prayers.

Quietly

Remember God.

Speak

the Truth.

Use

Valid

Words.

Xpress

Your

Zeal.

 

All I can say is: “Respect!”  But definitely some Food for Thought. 🙂 ❤

 

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The Words we Say Correctly but Write Wrongly

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These sets of words someone from my circle of friends happened to bring to my attention as I was leaving work the other day. And while these top ten are typical mistakes made in written English, they are not the only ones, for there are dozens more out there.

Can you list some examples? List them here in the Comment section and on Facebook and feel free to share this with your teaching colleagues, friends and family for a good laugh. 🙂

Have a nice weekend! FF new logo