Tribute to Peter Lustig

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If there was a question I would have had to ask my high school German teacher had the chance been there, it would have been this:  Frau Schorr, instead of showing us that teenage soap opera TV series with Thomas, Claudia and Andrea living in Hamburg, why not show us a real German TV film, like this one?

As we didn’t have youtube at that time, and the internet was at its infancy, it did make sense to order video tapes where available to learn the basics of German. Today however, if there was a TV show to recommend, Löwenzahn would be right on top of the list of shows where people learning German should watch, because it features not only natural and funny dialogs in Germany, but some very creative ideas and facts in the fields of science, technology, arts and history.

And today, we are paying tribute to the creator of Löwenzahn (literally translated as Dandelion), Peter Lustig, who passed away yesterday at his home near Husum at the age of 78. Lustig was born in Breslau in the former German state of Schlesia (now part of Poland) and started his career early as a TV journalist. According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, it was Lustig who reported on John F. Kennedy’s speech in West Berlin in 1961 and because of his close proximity to the US President, here was the result:

After working for the American radio station AFN, Lustig had many small roles in radio and TV shows in West Germany until the public TV station ZDF asked him to star in the TV series that featured the beloved dandelion. Together with Helmut Krauss as the ecentric and sometimes narrow-minded but clumsy neighbor Parschulke, Lustig starred in 197 episodes of Löwenzahn over the span of 25 years, ending with his final bow in 28 October, 2007 as guest star. Since 2005, Guido Hammesfahr has taken over the role in Löwenzahn as Fritz Fuchs, but Krauss has remained with the show well after Lustig left the scene and retired. The new version with Fritz Fuchs was mentioned in the Files on occasion, including this article produced in 2014. Characteristic of Peter Lustig were his blue overalls– he had 35 pairs including a black pair he wore at a wedding- and two famous comments:

  1. Klingt komisch aber ist so- “Sounds weird but it is that way.”
  2. Du kannst jetzt abschalten- the closing where he encouraged viewers to switch off the TV and do something creative outside.

I was introduced to Löwenzahn by a student colleague a few years ago, as we were working on a project to find the best TV shows for kids in Germany. My daughter was four at that time and we had just purchased a flat screen TV for our flat. Knowing about her, she recommended the TV show as she grew up watching Peter Lustig and his mentality of explore, create and impress- the same mentality that Fritz Fuchs has adopted for his show. Since that time, it has been on the menu of the TV marathon, my daughter has every Sunday morning. To the colleague who recently had a baby of her own, she has my thanks and for those who want to know why Löwenzahn should be introduced in the classroom instead of the Thomas, Claudia and Andrea in Hamburg adventure, here are the Top 10 reasons why:

  1. The very first episode of Löwenzahn, produced in 1980:

 

 

2. The second episode of Löwenzahn: Peter meets Parschulke:

 

3. Peter is one of the first hosts to talk about saving energy:

 

4. Peter makes Lebkuchen:

 

5. Peter and Parschulke dance and sing on the volcano:

 

6. Peter tours the garbage facility looking for one of Parschulke’s lost garden gnomes:

 

7. Peter rides the tram and convinces the city to continue serving the tram route:

 

8. Peter and Parschulke are in a soapbox boat race, except one of them cheated in the race. Can you find out who?

 

9. Die Reise ins Abendteuer: The adventure trip- A 25th anniversary special looking at Peter Lustig through the years. The three-part series were the last episodes for Peter Lustig as host.

 

10. Lebenswandel (2007) Like Star Trek Generations, produced in 1996, this generations episode has Fritz Fuchs and Peter Lustig together solving a very old inventive case. This was the last time Lustig made his appearance on TV before retiring from the business for good.

 

And as Lustig mentioned to Parschulke at the end of the show: This time travel adventure only happens once. It was a pleasure havin Lustig present us with all of the discoveries, many of which were not even thought of before and after learning from him, we better understand. Looking at Lustig’s career from an author’s point of view, I see an adventurer showing us the unknown, regardless of how it was done and how boring it had been perceived at the beginning. And even though he spent time with the series Sendung mit der Maus (the TV show with the Orange Mouse) prior to his marquee appearance in the show, because of Lustig, many shows, including the Mouse have used Löwenzahn as a reference to be creative and entertaining and find ways to bring a boring or even a “debatable for viewers” topic to light and make it interesting for the viewers of all ages. Now wonder why Lustig received the Cross of Merit in 2007 by then German President Horst Koehler, the same year he retired from the TV scene.

And now you have the reasons why Löwenzahn should be in your teaching curriculum when teaching German as a foreign language as well as other classes in school. There are a lot of interesting topics that have been covered with many more to be covered with Fritz Fuchs at the helm as the show is in its 37th year. Because of Lustig, the show provides viewers with the best of both worlds because of the easy access to the German language but also to the known which if presented in a creative and entertaining fashion, like Lustig did during his 25 years with the show it will be an interesting topic to watch and later discuss.

And so I close this tribute with many thanks to Peter Lustig for Löwenzahn and for leaving a slot open for many children and parents to watch the show every Sunday morning. But also for giving us some interesting facts to learn about. In today’s world full of politics and ignorance, we do have some people that are teachers at the heart, even if they are entertainers in the end.

And keeping this in mind, we come to the end of the article and I say, “Abschalten und Tschüß!” (Shut it off and farewell). 😉

 

11822877_986368714727111_538221547257910593_o

The Flensburg Files would like to dedicate this article in memory of Peter Lustig, thanking him for his work. He will be missed by many but also remembered for his pioneering efforts. Thoughts, prayers and condolences to his family, friends and millions of fans.

FF new logo1

A Tribute to Peter Lustig

If there was a question I would have had to ask my high school German teacher had the chance been there, it would have been this:  Frau Schorr, instead of showing us that teenage soap opera TV series with Thomas, Claudia and Andrea living in Hamburg, why not show us a real German TV film, like this one?

As we didn’t have youtube at that time, and the internet was at its infancy, it did make sense to order video tapes where available to learn the basics of German. Today however, if there was a TV show to recommend, Löwenzahn would be right on top of the list of shows where people learning German should watch, because it features not only natural and funny dialogs in Germany, but some very creative ideas and facts in the fields of science, technology, arts and history.

And today, we are paying tribute to the creator of Löwenzahn (literally translated as Dandelion), Peter Lustig, who passed away yesterday at his home near Husum at the age of 78. Lustig was born in Breslau in the former German state of Schlesia (now part of Poland) and started his career early as a TV journalist. According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, it was Lustig who reported on John F. Kennedy’s speech in West Berlin in 1961 and because of his close proximity to the US President, here was the result:

After working for the American radio station AFN, Lustig had many small roles in radio and TV shows in West Germany until the public TV station ZDF asked him to star in the TV series that featured the beloved dandelion. Together with Helmut Krauss as the ecentric and sometimes narrow-minded but clumsy neighbor Parschulke, Lustig starred in 197 episodes of Löwenzahn over the span of 25 years, ending with his final bow in 28 October, 2007 as guest star.

Since 2005, Guido Hammesfahr has taken over the role in Löwenzahn as Fritz Fuchs, but Krauss has remained with the show well after Lustig left the scene and retired. The new version with Fritz Fuchs was mentioned in the Files on occasion, including this article produced in 2014. Characteristic of Peter Lustig were his blue overalls– he had 35 pairs including a black pair he wore at a wedding- and two famous comments:

  1. Klingt komisch aber ist so- “Sounds weird but it is that way.”
  2. Du kannst jetzt abschalten- the closing where he encouraged viewers to switch off the TV and do something creative outside.

I was introduced to Löwenzahn by a student colleague a few years ago, as we were working on a project to find the best TV shows for kids in Germany. My daughter was four at that time and we had just purchased a flat screen TV for our flat. Knowing about her, she recommended the TV show as she grew up watching Peter Lustig and his mentality of explore, create and impress- the same mentality that Fritz Fuchs has adopted for his show.

Since that time, it has been on the menu of the TV marathon, my daughter has every Sunday morning. To the colleague who recently had a baby of her own, she has my thanks and for those who want to know why Löwenzahn should be introduced in the classroom instead of the Thomas, Claudia and Andrea in Hamburg adventure, here are the Top 10 reasons why:

  1. The very first episode of Löwenzahn, produced in 1980:
  1. The second episode of Löwenzahn: Peter meets Parschulke:
  1. Peter is one of the first hosts to talk about saving energy:
  1. Peter makes Lebkuchen:
  1. Peter and Parschulke dance and sing on the volcano:
  1. Peter tours the garbage facility looking for one of Parschulke’s lost garden gnomes:
  1. Peter rides the tram and convinces the city to continue serving the tram route:
  1. Peter and Parschulke are in a soapbox boat race, except one of them cheated in the race. Can you find out who?
  1. Die Reise ins Abendteuer: The adventure trip- A 25th anniversary special looking at Peter Lustig through the years. The three-part series were the last episodes for Peter Lustig as host.
  1. Lebenswandel (2007) Like Star Trek Generations, produced in 1996, this generations episode has Fritz Fuchs and Peter Lustig together solving a very old inventive case. This was the last time Lustig made his appearance on TV before retiring from the business for good.

And as Lustig mentioned to Parschulke at the end of the show: This time travel adventure only happens once. It was a pleasure havin Lustig present us with all of the discoveries, many of which were not even thought of before and after learning from him, we better understand. Looking at Lustig’s career from an author’s point of view, I see an adventurer showing us the unknown, regardless of how it was done and how boring it had been perceived at the beginning. And even though he spent time with the series Sendung mit der Maus (the TV show with the Orange Mouse) prior to his marquee appearance in the show, because of Lustig, many shows, including the Mouse have used Löwenzahn as a reference to be creative and entertaining and find ways to bring a boring or even a “debatable for viewers” topic to light and make it interesting for the viewers of all ages. Now wonder why Lustig received the Cross of Merit in 2007 by then German President Horst Koehler, the same year he retired from the TV scene.

And now you have the reasons why Löwenzahn should be in your teaching curriculum when teaching German as a foreign language as well as other classes in school. There are a lot of interesting topics that have been covered with many more to be covered with Fritz Fuchs at the helm as the show is in its 37th year. Because of Lustig, the show provides viewers with the best of both worlds because of the esay access to the German language but also to the known which if presented in a creative and entertaining fashion, like Lustig did during his 25 years with the show it will be an interesting topic to watch and later discuss.

And so I close this tribute with many thanks to Peter Lustig for Löwenzahn and for leaving a slot open for many children and parents to watch the show every Sunday morning. But also for giving us some interesting facts to learn about. In today’s world full of politics and ignorance, we do have some people that are teachers at the heart, even if they are entertainers in the end.

And keeping this in mind, we come to the end of the article and I say, “Abschalten und Tschüß!” (Shut it off and farewell). 😉

11822877_986368714727111_538221547257910593_o

The Flensburg Files would like to dedicate this article in memory of Peter Lustig, thanking him for his work. He will be missed by many but also remembered for his pioneering efforts. Thoughts, prayers and condolences to his family, friends and millions of fans.

FF new logo1

“Wir sind das Volk” als illegale Ansage?

US-D

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frage für das forum

 

“Wir sind das Volk!-” literally translated as We are the People: A phrase that is universal. We stand together as one group, one republic, to all mankind. Although its origins date back to the time of the 1848 Revolution and it was used during the Third Reich, this phrase was introduced during the Leipzig Demonstrations in 1989, protesting against the East German regime and their control over their rights and passage to the west. The peace demonstrations were the key to opening the Berlin Wall on 9 November of that year.  It resonated when the population of both Germanys demanded that there is only one Germany. Germany was reunited a year later on 3 October. You can imagine what the phrase meant during that time:

Fast-forward to the present, and we see the phrase being used in a totally different way:

In the past three months conflicts involving the housing of refugees in Germany have reached their boiling point where we have seen people taking arms against the will of politicians. Especially in the German state of Saxony, attacks against planned apartments for refugees have been reported in cities, like Dresden, Chemnitz and Freiberg, but also in smaller communities, like Meerane and Bautzen. The videos posted here consist of a fire at a former hotel reserved for refugees in the town of Bautzen. People there tried to hinder the firemen from putting out the blaze. In Clausnitz, a suburb of Chemnitz, a bus full of refugees heading to a shelter, was blocked by numerous protesters. Both times, the phrase “Wir sind das Volk!” was used. This has resulted in numerous reactions from politicians and others on state and national levels, ranging from disappointment to appalling. The phrase has been used very often and in an increasingly way during the PEGIDA demonstrations as well as with the right-wing extreme groups.

This has resulted in the need to question this phrase. While “Wir sind das Volk” is used to unite the people for a better Germany that is free and democratic, it appears that this phrase is increasingly being used for patriotic purposes, which in German terms can be compared to the Third Reich and Hitler’s greeting “Sieg ****!”  This phrase has been declared illegal since 1945 because of its association with Hitler and the atrocities he and his people did against millions of people of his disliking.  While Germany prides itself on its culture and technology, especially both after 1945 and German Reunification, it is a country that takes its pride seriously and does not use patriotic slogans as much as the US does, for it brings back memories of this dark period. In case one is wondering, for the US, we have “One Nation Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All,” as our patriotic slogan. Given our religious beliefs and how they have shaped our history, this is justified. However, the phrase “Wir sind das Volk,” is becoming one that should be deemed illegal because of its misinterpretation in the eyes of the PEGIDA and those opposing housing and helping refugees. It has become a phrase that is enhancing a German nationalism that the majority of the population does not want at all- a nationalist state where Aryanism is the norm.  And contrary to the fact that immigrants and refugees have helped develop Germany into an economic power, especially when dating back to the 1950s where labor shortages were noticable because of the after-effects of the war, opponents seem to not care about these benefits which far trumps the cleansing of the German population with this slogan “Wir sind das Volk.” And in the eyes of the typical German, this is not what Germany is about.

Keeping all this in mind, this leads to a plea to the German Supreme Court in Karlsruhe and to Chancellor Angela Merkel: Do away with the slogan and replace it with a more neutral but friendlier version, like “Wir sind Deutschland! Ihr seid (herzlich) wilkommen!” or “Wir sind Deutschland! Wir sind eins!” As Germany has become a melting pot with lots of multiculture, I think such a slogan will have a more international taste than the slogan, which I now have added to the ones not to be spoken in Germany ever again, let alone to any German. It will present more of a sense of home to the people who really, and desparately need one, even if it is for a limited time. If you think this will work, then carry it out. I’m sure every person living in Germany and having listened to the events happening recently will be greeted with a proactive decision.

ODER?

What do you think? Should the slogan “Wir sind das Volk” be considered an illegal one and banned by law, similar to that forbidden slogan used by Hitler?  Why or why not?

Place your votes here but you are also free to explain (in German or English) why you feel one way or the other.

 

 

 

five years flfi

And to the people who committed the atrocities against the refugees or have supported PEGIDA: As I’m a Christian of mixed faith (Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist), allow me to quote a couple passages worth considering before you join another demonstration or hinder the right of others to live in your neighborhood:

Romans 14:1-4 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.  One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.  Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Mark 12:31 – And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

It doesn’t matter where the people come from, it does matter as to accept them into their community and integrate them, for they have a future like we do, and a right to live as we do. Think about it. And purgatories do exist, indulgences not! 

“Wir sind das Volk” als illegale Ansage?

“Wir sind das Volk” als illegale Ansage?

FlFi Newsflyer Logo new

frage für das forum

“Wir sind das Volk!-” literally translated as We are the People: A phrase that is universal. We stand together as one group, one republic, to all mankind.

Although its origins date back to the time of the 1848 Revolution and it was used during the Third Reich, this phrase was introduced during the Leipzig Demonstrations in 1989, protesting against the East German regime and their control over their rights and passage to the west. The peace demonstrations were the key to opening the Berlin Wall on 9 November of that year.  It resonated when the population of both Germanys demanded that there is only one Germany. Germany was reunited a year later on 3 October. You can imagine what the phrase meant during that time:

 

Fast-forward to the present, and we see the phrase being used in a totally different way:

In the past three months conflicts involving the housing of refugees in Germany have reached their boiling point where we have seen people taking arms against the will of politicians. Especially in the German state of Saxony, attacks against planned apartments for refugees have been reported in cities, like Dresden, Chemnitz and Freiberg, but also in smaller communities, like Meerane and Bautzen.

The videos posted here consist of a fire at a former hotel reserved for refugees in the town of Bautzen. People there tried to hinder the firemen from putting out the blaze. In Clausnitz, a suburb of Chemnitz, a bus full of refugees heading to a shelter, was blocked by numerous protesters. Both times, the phrase “Wir sind das Volk!” was used.

This has resulted in numerous reactions from politicians and others on state and national levels, ranging from disappointment to appalling. The phrase has been used very often and in an increasingly way during the PEGIDA demonstrations as well as with the right-wing extreme groups.

This has resulted in the need to question this phrase. While “Wir sind das Volk” is used to unite the people for a better Germany that is free and democratic, it appears that this phrase is increasingly being used for patriotic purposes, which in German terms can be compared to the Third Reich and Hitler’s greeting “Sieg ****!”  This phrase has been declared illegal since 1945 because of its association with Hitler and the atrocities he and his people did against millions of people of his disliking.

While Germany prides itself on its culture and technology, especially both after 1945 and German Reunification, it is a country that takes its pride seriously and does not use patriotic slogans as much as the US does, for it brings back memories of this dark period. In case one is wondering, for the US, we have “One Nation Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All,” as our patriotic slogan. Given our religious beliefs and how they have shaped our history, this is justified.

However, the phrase “Wir sind das Volk,” is becoming one that should be deemed illegal because of its misinterpretation in the eyes of the PEGIDA and those opposing housing and helping refugees. It has become a phrase that is enhancing a German nationalism that the majority of the population does not want at all- a nationalist state where Aryanism is the norm.

And contrary to the fact that immigrants and refugees have helped develop Germany into an economic power, especially when dating back to the 1950s where labor shortages were noticable because of the after-effects of the war, opponents seem to not care about these benefits which far trumps the cleansing of the German population with this slogan “Wir sind das Volk.” And in the eyes of the typical German, this is not what Germany is about.

Keeping all this in mind, this leads to a plea to the German Supreme Court in Karlsruhe and to Chancellor Angela Merkel: Do away with the slogan and replace it with a more neutral but friendlier version, like “Wir sind Deutschland! Ihr seid (herzlich) wilkommen!” or “Wir sind Deutschland! Wir sind eins!”

As Germany has become a melting pot with lots of multiculture, I think such a slogan will have a more international taste than the slogan, which I now have added to the ones not to be spoken in Germany ever again, let alone to any German. It will present more of a sense of home to the people who really, and desparately need one, even if it is for a limited time. If you think this will work, then carry it out. I’m sure every person living in Germany and having listened to the events happening recently will be greeted with a proactive decision.

ODER?

What do you think? Should the slogan “Wir sind das Volk” be considered an illegal one and banned by law, similar to that forbidden slogan used by Hitler?  Why or why not?

Place your votes here but you are also free to explain (in German or English) why you feel one way or the other.

 

 

five years flfi

 

 

And to the people who committed the atrocities against the refugees or have supported PEGIDA: As I’m a Christian of mixed faith (Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist), allow me to quote a couple passages worth considering before you join another demonstration or hinder the right of others to live in your neighborhood:

Romans 14:1-4 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.  One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.  Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Mark 12:31 – And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

It doesn’t matter where the people come from, it does matter as to accept them into their community and integrate them, for they have a future like we do, and a right to live as we do. Think about it. And purgatories do exist, indulgences not! 

 

 

Speechless

IMGP1541

The world is a beautiful place, full of faces, full of joy, full of laughter and full of character. Each of us has a unique talent, one that is shared and given, but one that is accepted and loved. We are gifted in ways that we sometimes do not realize that until someone notices and embraces it. We try to make our talents grow without having to brag about it. We try to win friends without scaring them away. We try to be famous without being marred by scandals…..

Until it is taken away without notice.

Why do some of us have to leave so soon when……

we have a home to come home to

we have a family to be a family with

we have friends to be friends with

we have work to work off

we have a show to show around

and we have love to be loved by?

We may never know the why, the how and the what of our loss,

We may never understand the cause

We can only keep  in our own memory of all the things you have done

We can only remember you for what you have done

And left a mark in our hearts in the process.

For better or worse, for good times and bad,

For successes and failures, for happiness and sorrow

For a friend and for a foe, for a family and for a neighbor,

You made the best of your talent

But left us too soon, leaving us hollow.

We will remember your voice and your music

But will forever be speechless.

IMGP1563

This poem is written in memory of a classmate who left us too soon. He was not only a popular figure in school in Minnesota, where I attended, but he was a gifted musician, who made the best of his talent and made many people happy in the process. Unfortunately, I was informed of his passing at a very young age. While he and I butt heads on occasion, he was a great person to hang around with in school and had wondered how he was doing since I graduated 20 years ago. For his work, this piece is for him. Click here to listen to his music and for those who knew him, like I did, may he be remembered for the best and worst of times, but most of all, for being a friend and a great.

FF new logo1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speechless

IMGP1541

The world is a beautiful place, full of faces, full of joy, full of laughter and full of character. Each of us has a unique talent, one that is shared and given, but one that is accepted and loved. We are gifted in ways that we sometimes do not realize that until someone notices and embraces it. We try to make our talents grow without having to brag about it. We try to win friends without scaring them away. We try to be famous without being marred by scandals…..

Until it is taken away without notice.

Why do some of us have to leave so soon when……

we have a home to come home to

we have a family to be a family with

we have friends to be friends with

we have work to work off

we have a show to show around

and we have love to be loved by?

We may never know the why, the how and the what of our loss,

We may never understand the cause

We can only keep  in our own memory of all the things you have done

We can only remember you for what you have done

And left a mark in our hearts in the process.

For better or worse, for good times and bad,

For successes and failures, for happiness and sorrow

For a friend and for a foe, for a family and for a neighbor,

You made the best of your talent

But left us too soon, leaving us hollow.

We will remember your voice and your music

But will forever be speechless.

IMGP1563

This poem is written in memory of a classmate who left us too soon. He was not only a popular figure in school in Minnesota, where I attended, but he was a gifted musician, who made the best of his talent and made many people happy in the process. Unfortunately, I was informed of his passing at a very young age. While he and I butt heads on occasion, he was a great person to hang around with in school and had wondered how he was doing since I graduated 20 years ago. For his work, this piece is for him. Click here to listen to his music and for those who knew him, like I did, may he be remembered for the best and worst of times, but most of all, for being a friend and a great.

FF new logo1

Question Tag

question tag

Dialog- a concept where two or more persons converse over topics that are of interest. It does not necessarily have to do with trying to find solutions to conflicts that are bothersome to both parties. It does not have to do with cheering or booing teams. It has more to do with having a discussion to find and expand interests, views and other personal traits that the parties have in common with a goal of establishing friendships (or in some cases, relationships) and exchanging ideas for the good.  Hans Küng stressed using a dialog as a tool for finding common values among religions when he initiated the Global Ethics project in the 1990s, much to the dismay of priests of his own Catholic Faith. Samuel P. Huntington in his last book Who We Are, argues for compromise through dialog in order for the United States to come to terms with the influx of immigrants, especially from the south. Francis Fukuyama claimed in his thesis The End of History that the new era offers a chance for mankind to develop a universal form of civilization which includes the quest of similar values and compromise via dialog.

But dialogs do not necessarily have to concentrate on politics, religion and personal views alone. It has more to do with breaking down barriers that confines us and keeps us from reaching out. This can include language barriers, cultural and religious differences, and even personal differences, all of which are avoidable if we have the will to find a medium ground to start off with. 🙂

And this is where this activity comes to mind. It’s called Question Tag. Useful in not only foreign language classes, but also in general classes in school as well as in other education institutions, Question Tag (short, QT) offers students and/or parties an opportunity to break the ice right away and start a conversation by asking the other person a question of interest before eventually spreading it around. The main goal of this game is threefold, speaking from experience:

  1. For foreign language education, QT offers the students an opportunity to show their language skills, including vocabulary and skills involving asking questions, while at the same time, acquire additional vocabulary and other skills by listening and involving themselves in the conversation.
  2. For other topics, QT can enable a thought-provoking discussion to find out the views of others, while generating other questions and thoughts that may be useful and fruitful for the discussion. This includes specific topics, like the refugee crisis, or the US Presidential Elections, but also general topics, such as involvement in clubs and associations, interest in technology and even sports.
  3. Students can benefit from QT by getting to know the other one and his/her interests. This is especially useful if one or two members in the group are exceptionally shy and not forthcoming in the conversation. And as dumb as it may be, it is useful for group projects that involve people of different backgrounds and personalities, regardless of whether the project is related to work or the university.

The object of the game is simple: Each participant receives five index cards (Karteikarten in German), regardless of size, and a pen. The participant must then write down five questions that he/she has, then turn them over so that no one else can see. It’s like a poker game but more discreet. 😉

Please note that the questions must not be too personal and not too biased. So questions involving sex life and dating, as well as views on xenophobia (as examples) should be refrained altogether. But questions involving hobbies, childhood memories, first crush on a person, favorite pet are ok, if formulated appropriately.

Once the questions are written down, place them in the center of the table face down and mix them up. Then, one person chooses a card and the target person, and asks the question. After the target person answers the question, others can join to share their answers and views based on the question.

Nothing to it. 🙂

The game is open as a one-to-one but you can include as many people as you see fit. The beauty of this game is that anyone can play and it can be played in various languages. That means even people seeking refuge in Europe can play this to learn a new language, as well as those hosting them, who are interested in learning their language, like Persian and Arabic. 🙂

Question Tag serves as a starter to breaking down barriers that keep two people or parties apart. The worst a person can do is either strengthen the barrier or try breaking through to impose ideas and rules onto the other. This is where conflicts have prevailed regardless of which level. It is even more painful, if the conflict deals with language differences or even differences in culture and the way of life. Conflicts can be avoided if a middle path is found and the parties can have a peaceful co-existence. That is why dialogs are important and with that, asking about one’s interest and the way of handling people. Sometimes a question is free and can get a person somewhere- to establishing a good working relationship or even friendship. Blocking someone out is not the answer, a dialog is. And this game is one that can get a dialog going. And eventually, with a dialog, barriers can fall and a middle ground can be found and the misunderstandings can be eliminated. If you have a problem with a person or group, perhaps you can try this someday. After all, all conflicts have a solution that involves a dialog instead of a blockade, right?

That’s what I thought. 😉

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Question Tag

question tag

Dialog- a concept where two or more persons converse over topics that are of interest. It does not necessarily have to do with trying to find solutions to conflicts that are bothersome to both parties. It does not have to do with cheering or booing teams. It has more to do with having a discussion to find and expand interests, views and other personal traits that the parties have in common with a goal of establishing friendships (or in some cases, relationships) and exchanging ideas for the good.  Hans Küng stressed using a dialog as a tool for finding common values among religions when he initiated the Global Ethics project in the 1990s, much to the dismay of priests of his own Catholic Faith. Samuel P. Huntington in his last book Who We Are, argues for compromise through dialog in order for the United States to come to terms with the influx of immigrants, especially from the south. Francis Fukuyama claimed in his thesis The End of History that the new era offers a chance for mankind to develop a universal form of civilization which includes the quest of similar values and compromise via dialog.

But dialogs do not necessarily have to concentrate on politics, religion and personal views alone. It has more to do with breaking down barriers that confines us and keeps us from reaching out. This can include language barriers, cultural and religious differences, and even personal differences, all of which are avoidable if we have the will to find a medium ground to start off with. 🙂

And this is where this activity comes to mind. It’s called Question Tag. Useful in not only foreign language classes, but also in general classes in school as well as in other education institutions, Question Tag (short, QT) offers students and/or parties an opportunity to break the ice right away and start a conversation by asking the other person a question of interest before eventually spreading it around. The main goal of this game is threefold, speaking from experience:

  1. For foreign language education, QT offers the students an opportunity to show their language skills, including vocabulary and skills involving asking questions, while at the same time, acquire additional vocabulary and other skills by listening and involving themselves in the conversation.
  2. For other topics, QT can enable a thought-provoking discussion to find out the views of others, while generating other questions and thoughts that may be useful and fruitful for the discussion. This includes specific topics, like the refugee crisis, or the US Presidential Elections, but also general topics, such as involvement in clubs and associations, interest in technology and even sports.
  3. Students can benefit from QT by getting to know the other one and his/her interests. This is especially useful if one or two members in the group are exceptionally shy and not forthcoming in the conversation. And as dumb as it may be, it is useful for group projects that involve people of different backgrounds and personalities, regardless of whether the project is related to work or the university.

The object of the game is simple: Each participant receives five index cards (Karteikarten in German), regardless of size, and a pen. The participant must then write down five questions that he/she has, then turn them over so that no one else can see. It’s like a poker game but more discreet. 😉

Please note that the questions must not be too personal and not too biased. So questions involving sex life and dating, as well as views on xenophobia (as examples) should be refrained altogether. But questions involving hobbies, childhood memories, first crush on a person, favorite pet are ok, if formulated appropriately.

Once the questions are written down, place them in the center of the table face down and mix them up. Then, one person chooses a card and the target person, and asks the question. After the target person answers the question, others can join to share their answers and views based on the question.

Nothing to it. 🙂

The game is open as a one-to-one but you can include as many people as you see fit. The beauty of this game is that anyone can play and it can be played in various languages. That means even people seeking refuge in Europe can play this to learn a new language, as well as those hosting them, who are interested in learning their language, like Persian and Arabic. 🙂

Question Tag serves as a starter to breaking down barriers that keep two people or parties apart. The worst a person can do is either strengthen the barrier or try breaking through to impose ideas and rules onto the other. This is where conflicts have prevailed regardless of which level. It is even more painful, if the conflict deals with language differences or even differences in culture and the way of life. Conflicts can be avoided if a middle path is found and the parties can have a peaceful co-existence. That is why dialogs are important and with that, asking about one’s interest and the way of handling people. Sometimes a question is free and can get a person somewhere- to establishing a good working relationship or even friendship. Blocking someone out is not the answer, a dialog is. And this game is one that can get a dialog going. And eventually, with a dialog, barriers can fall and a middle ground can be found and the misunderstandings can be eliminated. If you have a problem with a person or group, perhaps you can try this someday. After all, all conflicts have a solution that involves a dialog instead of a blockade, right?

That’s what I thought. 😉

Flensburg SunsetFF new logo1

Year of the Beer Day 36: Greizer Schloss Pils

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Moving on from the UR-saalfelder, our next beer takes us to the Pearl of or Gateway to the Vogtland region in southeastern Thuringia, Greiz. With a population of 24,000 inhabitants, the town is entrenched deep in the valley of the White Elster River and has a castle overlooking the town, a neighboring city gardens, and a town center backed into the steep cliffs. The town also has its own brewery bearing its name. Founded in 1872 by the industrialist Karl Gottlieb Weber, the merchant Karl Anton Merz and the independent gentleman Anon Zeuner, the Greizer has a rather checkered history which includes several takeovers by first nationalists, including the infamous Hitler regime, then the Communists which tabbed the VEB tag on them, and lastly corporate takeovers after the Fall of the Wall. The third one was the most significant because (as you will see in the history page here), the brewery underwent extensive rehabilitation, cleaning the wells, modernizing the crafting machinery, and cleansing it of raw barley, sauerkraut and rice, which had to be used as substitutes for malt during the first two takeovers. Since 2001, it has been privately owned with the Schäfer family having the reigns of the business since 2010.

The Greizer has six assortments of beer, one of which we put under the loop with the pilsener. The Schloss Pils is the most commonly found beers in the region, having won several awards including the DLG Award in 2010 and 2012. The brewery was great enough to provide some details of the beer in the English language (here), and much of the information matches that of my first-hand impression of the beer: slim body, fair head, lively carbonation, and a brillantly clear yellow head. 🙂

Yet looking at the aroma and flavor of the beer, they are a bit different when tasting them. The beer has a strong aroma with a sharp balance, thanks to the usage of grain and bread malt and floral hops. Just as strong is the flavor of the beer, as it appears that a bit of strong floral hops and citrus was used a bit too much, creating a rather bitter taste at first. After a few sips a person can get used to ii, even more so when consuming food. It is highly recommended not to drink your Schloss Pils straight if you are drinking it for the first time, maybe even in general, for its astringent taste can take getting used to. For a pilsener with a touch of hops and citrus, sometimes one needs to cut back a bit and compensate it with other ingredients to create a mild taste, like the other beers I’ve tried so far, like the Sachsen Krone and Zwicküler, its nearby rivals to the north. Otherwise, just having the beer straight while conversing, especially as a first-timer, can make for a rather interesting conversation with some faces being made. 😉

Grade: 2,7/ C+  The Greizer Schloss Pils may be a beer that is good with every meal and for those who are used to drinking it, but personally, it doesn’t make for a good straight drink because of its bitterness and hoppiness. This applies also to those who have not tried a German beer yet. However, sometimes some minor tweeks can make it a better beer and after reading my critique, I’m sure these changes will take place to make it just as tasty as the neighboring beers, most of which have been tasted already. This won’t be the last Greizer beer to try as its bock beer is also on the radar and will be next on the list.

So like the Saalfelder, I’ll be back. 🙂

 

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Year of the Beer Day 35: Ur-Saalfelder Dark Beer

ur-saalfelder

Day 35 of the German beer marathon, and I’ve decided to open this entry up for forum, especially with regards to this candidate, the Ur-saalfelder.  This beer is produced by the brewery located in the southern Thuringian city of Saalfeld, located 40 kilometers south of Jena along the Saale River. There is a unique history behind this brewery, but there is another beer produced by the same brewery that will be tasted later on, and I intend to play the mosquito and suck the information out of the people at the brewery about that and this beer! 😉

The Ur-saalfelder represents an example of a typical “Märzenbier” which if translated, means strong dark beer. This terminology is cloudy because it can be mistaken for a “Schwarzbier,” which also means dark beer, but with a black color and in most cases, with a strong alcohol content. So the translation and definition alone are rather confusing. In the case of the Ur-saalfelder, the beer is not as dark as it is described, for the beer has a copper-like color, a decent clearness, a persistent head, very lively carbonation and a thick full body. The alcohol content is between 5.7 and 6%, and when drinking it, it has a slickness to it, coating the mouth, and leaving an everlasting taste to it.

However, as far as aroma is concerned, despite its rather sweet smell thanks to bread malt and floral hops, the aroma levels are rather low, meaning one can hardly smell it when opening it up. The flavor on the other hand is a bit different. When tasting it, the Ur-saalfelder has at least four different malt flavors (grain, bread, sweet and toast) and is quite hoppy with herbal and floral dominating. The end result is a clash between sweet and bitter, creating a strong intensity where it is unknown what exactly is in there and what ingredients outdo the other. Nevertheless its excellent craftmanship combined with its balance between neutral and bitter has this beer becoming a tasting experience one should try, and one where a lot of questions are open and need to be answered, such as:

  1. What is the real difference between a Schwarzbier and a Märzenbier, when both mean dark beer?
  2. What are the exact ingredients in the beer? Are they what was sensed while drinking or are there different/additional ones ?
  3. Is having too many hops and malt flavors really that good for the beer?

To our German and/or beer experts, this one is for you to answer, even if it means trying the Märzenbier like the Ur-saalfelder to figure it out. So go for it and let the author know what you think. 🙂

And as for the people at the Saalfelder Brewery, I’ll be back! 😉

Grade: 1,7/ A-

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