Saturday, July 18, 2009

Still blogging

So I haven't exactly kept this blog running. Being free of daily interaction with a computer is a good thing. But it does present a challenge when you tell friends and family you can follow my progress here. Although I am back, I would like to use this to fill you in on what I've been up to. So come back have a look at photos and find out what I've been up to the last two months.

bis dann

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Reichstag: The German Parliament

GSE, Districts7250 tours the Reichstag

One morning I went on a run. After asking the woman at the hotel reception desk for ideas of where to go she suggested following the River Spree, which runs through Berlin. With map in hand I ran out the door in search of the river. It was rather easy to find. At one point, I veered away from the river through a wide pedestrian path way and found myself in front of a building, the top of which read "Dem Deutschen Volke." I think this means the German People. I thought maybe this is where the group is touring tomorrow. People were queing on the front steps of this building to go inside and it was not even 9:00am. My team and the New South Wales GSE team were set to go to Parliament the next morning. Sure enough a little over 24 hours later, I arrived at that very building, the Reichstag.

Model of Reichstag

The Reichstag is home to the Bundestag, the German Parliament. After the Cathedral in Koln (Cologne), it is the 2nd most visited building in Germany. Fortunately, we did not have to wait in line. A tour, in English, was arranged for us with Dr. Klinan Jaeger. He focused on the architecture as well as the history of the buidling. Dr. Jaeger touched upon the grafiti, written by Russian soldiers when they occupied building. When Parliament was moved to the Reichstag, a concious decision was made to leave this history in tack.

S bahn on the way to the Reichstag

Passed through the Brandenburg Gate

The Reichstag

Writing on the Walls of the Riechstag left by soldiers

Katharina Sieverding ( I think)

Reichstag Blue, Special color made just for Parliament

Dome of the Reichstag

Meeting with Thilo Hoppe, Green Party
Aurich, Lower Saxony
Dem Deutschen Volke

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pergamon Museum

While in Berlin, I visited the Pergamon Museum. Originally I wanted to go to the Papyrus Museum. Instead, I went to the Pergamon, with Oldendburg Rotary club hosts Richard and Gisela, as well as Barbara, the GSE team leader. To my surprise I really enjoyed the visit!!! The museum actually houses three museums in one including, the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum of Islamic Art.

Part of the Frieze, Pergamon Museum

Friday, May 29, 2009

First week in Photos

Later today marks one week in Germany. Thanks to Gudula, my wonderful and current host mother, I've been able to finally upload some photos.

New South Wales and New York GSE teams do wall sits at Hannover train station.
Monday May 25

Brad and Amy at Vivolo's in Hackeschen Markt, Berlin-Mitte

@ Deutscher Bundestag, The German Parliament, Berlin
Wednesday May 27

Doris and Lisa at Inner Wheel meeting.
Thursday May 28

Irmi, guard and growler at Leffers in Oldenburg.
Friday May 29

Host, Gudula Hugenroth, laughs at Noelle's phrase book.
Friday May 29

Monday, May 25, 2009


Greetings from Berlin. Packed up. Had breakfast with the Neddemeirs and left for the Oldenburg train station. There Virginia and I met the rest of our team and met the Australian team too
Brian, Benny Blogger, Bradley, Kim- head lady, Jackie, and Amy. My first impression- what a gregarious groups that seems to get on well. We traded business cards and I ate their chocolate. Thanks for sharing mates.

We've eaten a snack lunch and will soon leave for a walking tour of Berlin.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Greetings from Oldenburg

I arrived yesterday. The last two days I have been at the Neddemeir's in Oldenburg. They have been great hosts, sharing stories and feeding Virginia and I. This morning they took us to downtown Oldenburg, saw the old town hall, castle, and stopped for tea and coffee before heading back to the house. I hope to upload some photos from the garden we visited. Should get off the computer so Virginia can use it. Also need to pack for Berlin. Taking the train there in the morning where will will have three days and share time with the Australian GSE team.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Holy mother. Tomorrow starts in five minutes. And that's when I'm leaving. Not until the evening though. I can not believe it's almost here. Yikes.

My mother's a god send! She helped me finish the laundry, so that I could visit Molly D for her birthday. Back home now and tying up loose ends.

I can't believe it's time.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Over due update

My goodness it's been well over a month since my last blog. Let's just say I've been a tad bit busy. Since my last post:

Last month, I attended a lunch meeting of the Flushing Rotary Club. This is the local club that is sponsoring me for the GSE trip. I met Tony Civitano, President of the Flushing Club, along with several of other Rotarians, including Fior Rodriguez-Langumas. My first meeting served to offer insights on how Rotary functions on a local club level.

Tony Civitano, President of Flushing Rotary

More recently, I attended a welcome meeting for the incoming GSE team at the South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside.

Tomorrow, I will get to spend the better part of the day with the German team. The Rockaway Club is currently hosting the team and is taking them to the Statue of Liberty. Though I can see the Statue from Brooklyn on most days, I have not been visited in decades. Decades! Sounds weird.

Earlier today was the last official prep meeting before the team leaves for Germany. The rain and the 5 boro bike race reeked havoc on high ways and travel plans. Alas, Heidi and the Governor arrived and helped to polish the script of my presentation. There is still some revising to do. The team plans to tie up loose ends to tie up at the District conference.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Visit to the New York Botanical Garden

One of my favorite places to visit is the New York Botanical Garden. Along with a friend, I ventured to the Bronx for the annual Orchid Show over the weekend. Here are some of the orchids and plants currently in bloom.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

This morning I went into the city to play touch (rugby). For non-ruggers and simplicity, it's a non contact version of rugby. However, touch is a sport in its own right, played with finesse and fluidity. Today, I played with mostly expats, with the exception of Daniela, one of my club rugby teammates. Since I have not seen D since January, it was nice to catch up for a bit in person. It was great having a run at touch and we played international touch rules! Life is good. I felt incredibly rusty, handling the ball (no finesse here) and running. But I had a blast.


Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to the weekly GSE prep meeting. I left touch in a hurry, running away in a t-shirt and shorts. This attire didn't feel entirely appropriate entering the rectory, that plays hosts to team meetings. I ducked into the bathroom for a quick change before joining the meeting. With each meeting the opportunity before me feels a little more real. We touched upon the itinerary and going to Berlin with the Australian team. Other topics included business cards, gifts & trinkets, weather, and dates to remember. Then Babara, our team leader, suggested taking a break which we haven't done since our first meeting. I had just taken out her camera out of its case to take candid team photos. As she takes the camera she says "you know what to do on three." And I thought to myself, " I do? What do we do on three?" Everyone starts singing "Happy Birthday" to me. I was shocked! She got me good. That explains why there was dessert on the table.

Laughing or Crying. I'm just in shock as team surprises me.

After the the coffee and cake break the meeting resumed. Since the beginning, Thomas Gelfdorf, District #7250 District Governor and his wife, Heidi, have attended weekly team meetings. They've imparted stories on culture as well as Heidi leading our German language class. Today, in particular, as I listened to them talk about customs and growing up in Germany, I become more aware of cultural differences. I realize that I do certain things and behave a certain way, in part from growing up and living in the USA. It's not a question of good or bad. It's just well... interesting.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Itinerary: Take One

Today, I received an email outling our team's itinerary. Although the hosting clubs, vocational and cultural days are laid out on paper, the team has been reminded that this is all subject to change. Reading it makes this opportunity feel more concrete. Our group will travel around District 1850 with visits to Oldenburg, Borkum, Meppen, Cloppenburg-Quakenbrueck, and Bremen. There will also be a short trip to Berlin in conjunction with a visiting Australian GSE team from District 9650, based in New South Wales.

Of what's currently planned, I look forward to going to Borkum, especially the sightseeing flight around the island as well as visiting the Mercedes plant in Bremen.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Back to the Beginning

So after breezing through my German 1 CDs, I was feeling good. I thought, I'm ready for Intermediate German II. Wrong. I realize why it's called Beginner's German. I realize that they speak slower than normal conversation and the speaker's enunciation is exceptional. I am no longer under any illusion that I can speak German. I can understand if one speaks slowly. So it's back to Beginner's German for me. I need to find some German speakers to practice with in Brooklyn.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Falls in Brooklyn

Snow Day

Wir haben a lot a snow. What do you call a cross between German and English. I'm not sure. I tried to write we have a lot of snow. The East Coast was hit with the biggest snow storm of the season. Here' a shot of my street mid morning.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

District 1850

Rotary District 1850 map

While in Germany, I'll travel within Rotary District 1850's boundary. Within it's boundary are Bremen, the hanseatic city-state, the port city of Bremerhaven, small towns like Meppen and Lingen close to the Netherlands border. Recently I submitted my wishlist of places I'd like to see and visit. Sometime next month, I should receive a copy of the itinerary. While on the program, I'll move to a new town every week while being hosted by Rotarians.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

First Meeting

The Rockaways, NY

Today I went to The Rockways for my first preparatory meeting for the GSE trip. Initially, there was a bit a paper work, Barbara, Rotarian and team leader had to go over with us: seeing passports, getting signatures, discussing travel insurance and return dates. Fellow team members were in attendance. Subjects covered and questions answered ranged from gifts for host families, food allergies to vocational visits and available houses of worship. Gabor, last year's team leader to the Phillipines, also in attendance, shared some of his expertise. At the end of the meeting, there was a short lesson on German culture and language. I have German language homework due at next week's meeting. Here's some homework, I'm looking forward to.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Learning the Language

I don't speak the German. No sprechen sie kien deutsch. ( I don't even know if I spelled that correctly). However, I think it's important to speak the language when visiting a foreign country. Between now and the spring I'll study and hope to be able to express myself. Lately, I've been listening to German language cds at night. Thus far I've mastered counting to ten. When I do burpees, I do them in groups of ten counting out loud in German. Eins, zwei, drei.... Once I learn to count beyond 10 I can do higher quantities of burpees at once.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

From Brooklyn to Bremen

Welcome to my blog. I was born and raised and currently reside in Brooklyn, NY. In late spring, I'll travel to Bremen, Germany as part of a group participating in the Rotary Club Group Study Exchange program. My prior experience in Germany includes a brief layover in Frankfurt when I 1) dropped my passport on the train tracks and 2) was chastised by a banker for asking him for information. This will be my first real visit to Germany.