German Reunification: An Author’s Perspective

Alexanderplatz Station, the entrance point of the Christmas Market Photos taken in December 2013

“The nation will continue to be a central pole of identification, even if more and more nations come to share common economic and political forms of organization.”- Francis Fukuyama

25 years ago today, Germany became one country- the first since the fall of Adolf Hitler and the end of Nazism in 1945.  No longer was the country divided up into two Germanys, nor was it a chessboard between the Americans and the Soviets. Despite fears of a possible fourth Reich as well as Margaret Thatcher’s resignation in protest of this reunification, Germany’s run for a unified country was one that was indeed, an earned effort.  And it was one where many countries have since looked at for reference, because of how this work from being a divided country to a superpower was undertaken successfully. From an author’s perspective, the reunification was well-deserved and one that had been in the making for four decades, but one that would have been inevitable whether it was on 3 October, 1990 or 3 October 2000, or even 3 October of this year. It has long since been known that Germany was the land of writers and engineers, of inventors and athletes. And it’s known for its politics and women.

But looking at it differently, German Reunification represented the turning point in the world landscape. It represented the end of history as Fukuyama stated, but as far as the superpowers are concerned, let alone the traditional conflict between good and evil.  Germany represents a new generation of countries that were tired of living in the shadows of two superpowers trying to grasp power at the expense of their sovereignity and identityn but have since 1990 become a big influence in world politics today. As mentioned in a Genre of the Week article on the US no longer being the superpower it once was, the two “former” superpowers are still trying to prop up the identity of the 1980s, while the other countries have moved forward. A new and reunified Germany has set an example of how world politics should be today: democratic, pluralist and open-minded; not based on a two-party system that is controlled by money and power, and not based on a system controlled by one person alone. If people still think Germany is too powerful today, comparing it to the Third Reich, look at the videos below and see the reasons why people wanted to be Ein Volk and not Das Volk, as seen after the Wall fell. And Ein Volk nowadays has gone beyond the borders of Germany. We are united but have brought the rest of the world together to become one. :-)

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Ask yourselves these three questions:

  1. Where were you when Germany was reunified on this special day and what was your first-hand reaction?
  2. How do you perceive Germany these days in comparison with 1990?
  3. How much influence does the country have today compared to 25 years ago, and apart from the political scene?



The Flensburg Files and sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles would like to wish the Bundesrepublik a happy 25th anniversary. You have a lot to be proud of in the 25 years since East and West became one and a new era in history has started. This is your day to celebrate. Party hard! 😀   More articles on 25 years of Germany still to come! 😀

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Americans in Germany 2: Hometown Locals

Left to right: Jason D. Smith, Amanda (Draine) Sutton, Kristin (Svoboda) Krahmer, Brian Krahmer. Photo taken by Birgit Smith in 2014 in Jena.

There is an idiomatic expression that best describes a well-travelled and open-minded person:  Being a hometown person is good, travelling around is better, being abroad gives you the best.   During the author’s time in Germany, one of the observations that is definitely noticeable in the past decade is that the world is getting much smaller. It has nothing to do with the increase of goods from Germany that can be bought in the US and vice versa, but more to do with meeting people from your college town or even your hometown. During a trip to Flensburg in 2010, the author encountered a person, whose daughter went to high school in Windom, Minnesota as an exchange student! Located 40 km northeast of Worthington, which has an exchange program with Crailsheim, as well as 110 km west of New Ulm, a predominantly German city, it would be considered unusual to have a German visit a small town of 4500 inhabitants for a full year, a third as many as the two aforementioned communities.

However, what would be a reaction of the readers when they found out that four people from an even smaller community- namely Jackson, located 30 km south of Windom- are living in Germany. And all of them have an age difference of only four years?  This is what Jason Smith, Brian Krahmer, Kristin Krahmer (née Svoboda) and Amanda Sutton (née Draine) are doing.  Since 2014, the four people have been living in Germany, and albeit they live far apart, they have one thing in common: Germany is considered home to them. In this series on Americans living in Germany, the Files’ Steve Schorr asked the four people individually about their motives behind moving to Germany and comparing life there to that of their hometown. This will be divided up into two parts due to length and content. This is part I, with part II to follow.  Before moving to the questions, a brief profile of the four people:

Jason D. Smith-  Jason has lived in Germany the longest, having resided there since 1999. He graduated from Jackson High School in 1996. After three years at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, he came to Germany as a foreign exchange student at the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena and since graduating in 2001, has been teaching English at various institutions in and around Jena and Erfurt, with the exception of a two-year stint in Bayreuth at the university. He’s currently pursuing his teaching license to teach English, Social Studies and History at a German high school (Gymnasium) and is expected to obtain his 1st state exam in 2016 and his 2nd by 2018. Since 2010 he is also a writer and photographer of two blogs: The Flensburg Files and The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. With the exception of two years in Bayreuth and another two in Erfurt, Jason has been living in Jena with his wife Birgit and their seven year old daughter, Clara.

Brian and Kristin Krahmer- Brian and Kristin are the adventurous type when it comes to travelling, having lived in six different American states before moving to Germany in 2014. Kristin graduated from high school in 1996, Brian three years earlier. Married since 2000 (the same time as Jason and Birgit), the couple have done many jobs in the areas including some self-employment opportunities as carpenter, while Kristin acquired a profession as a massage therapist and Brian has 20+ years’ experience as a software developer. Since coming to Germany in 2014, they have lived in two different places in Bavaria: in Pegnitz (between Bayreuth and Nuremberg) and in their current town of Markt Rettenbach, located between Ulm and Munich near the city of Memmingen. They have a 10-year old daughter, Alexis.

Amanda (Draine) Sutton- Amanda graduated from high school, together with Jason and Kristin, in 1996 and since earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Health in 2007 and a Master’s in Radiological Health Sciences in 2009.  Both degrees were earned at Colorado State University.  After college, she spent one year working on the Hanford Site with Washington Closure Hanford as a Radiological Engineer in Washington state, followed by approximately two years working with SENES/ARCADIS as a Health Physicist out of their Denver office in Colorado before she started her family.  Her husband Andrew completed his PhD in Computer Science in 2011, also from Colorado State University.  Andrew has held post-docs in the Computer Science Departments at University of Adelaide, Colorado State University, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, and Hasso Plattner Institut/Universität Potsdam.  Amanda has lived in Minnesota, Illinois, Wyoming, Colorado, and Washington.  Since meeting Andrew, who grew up in New Mexico, they have also lived in Adelaide, South Australia and Jena, Germany.  They currently reside in Potsdam, Germany with their two children, Camden who will be three years old in November, and Daphne who is two months old.



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Americans in Germany 1: From Lawyer to Writer


Ann-Marie Ackermann giving a tour of a murder site in a small German community.

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Reunification of Germany, the Flensburg Files will be providing stories of Americans who found their way to Germany and have since considered the Bundesrepublik home. Many stories have been collected of Americans who decided to try their luck with Germany because of the need for something new. Some of them are interesting enough for you to read, share with others, and if you are dying for an adventure, want to move over to a place laden with history, culture and beautiful landscapes. :-) These stories and interviews will be posted during the month of October in addition to the continuing series on the 25 Reasons to Love Germany and the Quiz Series on the German states.

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Our first story in the series looks at an American who used to make a living as a lawyer in the United States. Yet, her heart fell for Germany, not only because of her father originating from the country, but also because she found romance with a German. For many years, she has made her home in Bönnigheim, which is located near the Neckar River south of Heilbronn in Baden-Wurttemberg. There, she’s a writer and translator, while enjoying her life with her husband and children. Here’s more on how Ann-Marie Ackermann rediscovered her roots by returning home to Germany. Note that this is the same person who was a guest writer a few weeks ago (her book review you’ll find here):

Question 1: What motivated you to move to Germany?

It was love…. I fell in love with a German and married him. The move overseas wasn’t as much as a shock as it might have been for other Americans. I’m first generation American and my father was from Germany, so I grew up with exposure to the German culture and language. And I love the country!

Question 2: You went from being a lawyer to a writer. Why this change?

In Germany I would have had to repeat law school. Not only does Germany have different laws, it’s based on a different legal system – the civil law system instead of the common law system of England and the United States. Law school just wasn’t practicable while I had small children underfoot. So I started a small translation business from home, translating academic articles in law and psychiatry.

Question 3: What books and essays have you written since living here in Germany?

No books, but a number of my translations have been published in English. I’ve also written about birds in German (I’m a life-long bird watcher) and have had about a dozen articles printed in magazines and an academic journal. I had a German newspaper column too. And I’m the English text editor of a German ornithological journal.

Question 4: You have a blog on history and mystery, esp. when focusing on the disappearance and death of King Ludwig II. Are you a big fan of mysteries and if so, why?

I’ve loved criminal law even when I was a kid. That’s one of the reasons I chose to study law. And working as a prosecuting attorney only honed my interest.

While researching an article about birds, I discovered a 19th century murder in my adopted German town, referenced in a forestry journal. The murder was solved almost forty years later in the United States. That  makes the case unique in 19th century German history. As a former prosecutor, I got interested and started researching, thinking I had the basis of a great article for the Germans. When the assassin’s archival trail led me to Robert E. Lee, I knew I had a great story for Americans. I have a book contract with Kent State University Press and the book will come out in 2017.

All in all, historical mysteries offer intellectual challenges that modern true crime doesn’t. They aren’t as sensationalist. The blood has dried and it’s the mystery that remains. And 19th century detective techniques are easier to understand than modern ones. That makes them especially appealing.

Question 5: Are you a fan of Tatort or Polizeiruf 110?

Nope! We don’t have television. I’ve watched BBC’s History Cold Case, starring forensic anthropologist Sue Black, on the internet. It is a perfect example of the kind of television show I love: science meets historical mystery.

Question 6: What places in Germany have you visited since living here? Which ones would you recommend and why?

My favorite German cities are Freiburg i.B., Stade, and Trier. All offer some history and have a charm of their own. I also love the Alps and the Wattenmeer for their nature.

Question 7: What difficulties have you encountered while living in Germany?

Navigating the German bureaucracy is quite a challenge. I particularly hate doing my taxes in German. Was it Mark Twain who wrote that a German tax return is so long you could wallpaper your living room with it?

While researching for my book, I had to learn to read the old Gothic handwriting the Germans used in the 19th century. That wasn’t easy, but I’m so glad I did. It’s fascinating to read old documents in the German archives. Learning local history has made me feel even more connected to my German town.

Question 8: If someone wants to live in Germany, what advice would you give him/her before embarking on this adventure, speaking from experience?

Language is the key to any culture. If you master the German language, it will open so many doors. It’s best, in the beginning, not to befriend Americans. If you keep your social circle exclusively German at first, you will learn the language so much faster. And it will help you make lasting German friendships.

You can find more information and stories of crimes, history and other interesting items through her website, which is: Subscriptions are available. From an author’s perspective, there are many aspects she has discovered that should at least be mentioned in the classroom to raise interest among the students. This is what spending time in a foreign country can do to a person: to discover the talents that had been locked up for years while at home, only to be set free when in a different place. Ackermann’s talents is a writer and apart from enjoying her short story narratives, many of us will be looking forward to her first novel on a rather mysterious crime to be released in 2017. Keep your eyes open on some more hints and facts pertaining to this theme. :-)

Leaving Bönnigheim, we will head to the cities of Memmingen, Jena and Potsdam, where a unique set of hometown heroes decided to leave their roots to make their homes in Germany. More on that in the next article/interview.

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Bloodmoon in Germany

Photo taken on the morning of 28 September, 2015

Photo taken on the morning of 28 September, 2015

FlFi Newsflyer Logo newBERLIN- Millions of people in Europe and the US took advantage of a once in a lifetime event this morning, as the moon became the Earth’s shadow for one and a half hours. From 4:11am to 5:27am Berlin time, the moon went from its usual white color to several shades of red, resembling the planet Mars, but many tout this as the Bloodmoon. For Germany, this total lunar eclipse was the first in 33 years. Furthermore, the moon orbited as close to Earth as never before- 30,000 kilometers- making it bigger than usual. The last time this happened without the eclipse, was in Spring 2011. Lastly at 6:00pm Sunday evening, the moon rose presenting its fall color of yellow and orange, touting it as the Harvest Moon (Erntemond in German).  Astronomers, photographers and many interested people took advantage of this opportunity to see the moon in its unusual form. The author did the same himself, and pictures of the event can be seen here through the Files’ facebook page.  Expect to see this phenomenon happen again in the year 2574. By that time, we’ll have soldiers of the Battlestar Galactica and spaceships being part of our lives, instead of autos and trams. 😉

For Germany and Europe, this year can be considered the year of the eclipse. Back in May, people witnessed the total solar eclipse (photos of that are also in the Files’ facebook page). With this total lunar eclipse, this marks a once in a lifetime event that will happen again much later than 2574. However, if you are like the author, who photographed the moon up close on those two occasions, then you just got yourselves two wishes to make that will change your lives forever, at least that is what the old saying goes. So if you kissed the moon, start wishing. Yet be careful of what you wish for- you may get it sooner than you think. 😉

Note: People wishing to add photos to the Files’ facebook page are free to do so. Just post your photo here, including your name and where this was taken.

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Germany at 25: Cycling on Germany’s Bike Trails

Sachsenburg Bridge w Gertie

Cycling. Of all the quotes that are out there (see link), there is one that sticks to mind when taking the bike out for a spin: The best ideas come from sitting on the bike, pedaling into the unknown, for hours on end.  Bicycling has become a habit to many in Germany who are searching for an alternative to travelling and commuting. Of 90% of households that own a bike, 31% of people would prefer the bike over the car, because biking is much sexier than travelling by car- at least that’s what 22% of the population think of that. No wonder why because 72% of the population bike at least seven hours a week, the number of bike trails have increased by 25% since 2000! 😀 Germany is catching onto the Copenhagenization craze, but why?

Since coming to Germany in 1999, there has been a shift in attitude in terms of what form of transportation to use for travelling. Of course Germans love their cars (and treat them like they treat their books- as sacred as the Bible). But too many cars on the road means less time to spend on vacation for much of that is spent in traffic jams. Therefore we are starting to see more and more people hit the pedal and hit the trails- not for the purpose of commuting (like the author does), but also for travelling on vacation- to see the sites, visit places almost inaccessible by car or train, enjoy good company over a radler with some friends (not to mention have a picnick along the way), and lastly, clear the mind of all the stress and problems for at least one day.


The number of (kilometers of) bike trails have increased by 50% since 2000, with the majority of the trails running along a body of water or through the cities. This includes trails running along rivers, like the Elbe, Rhine, Main, Saale and Weser, but also those along the North and Baltic Coast lines. We also have some that connect historic villages and castles as well as dense networks of trails going through big cities. The trend is increasing as the German Bike Association ADFC has mapped out an Agenda 2020 Plan, which is designed to accomodate bikers with better trail networks, services and other ammendities. And with the increase in bike traffic comes the increase in bike shops and bike brands you can only see in Germany. The trend is clearly going towards keeping the car in the garage and using the bike as the main source of transportation.

There are many reasons for taking the bike anywhere these days. For many, it is for the purpose of independence. For others, it’s the norm. For me as an expat, minus the commute, it is for exploring new places and taking in something new each day, whether it is biking across a bridge, through the mountains and villages, or even to a castle for a tour. Sometimes seeing something new everyday is a way of expanding your horizons and having a better understanding of the place you’re living in. And while many Americans at home don’t understand the concept yet, when taking a week in Europe, going by bike to many places, like I have with my companion Galloping Gertie (a black Diamant bike made in Germany), they will eventually change their minds and do what we’ve done in the last 15 years- put the helmet on and start pedaling. :-)


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Genre of the Week: The Fire Within by Sophie Scholl

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Author’s note: Due to the 25th Anniversary of German Reunification festivities and the number of articles pertaining to this theme on the way beginning next week, the Files is posting a Genre of the Week profile for the coming week, which serves as a little food for thought as the weekend before the celebration comes.

Society must be equal. But equality in this case has nothing to do with the gap between the rich and poor. It has more to do with checks and balances. One power strives to take control of our resources and our lives, yet even if we are conquered, there are many of us who take the effort to fight back and set the boundaries- showing them where not to cross. Countries have tried seize the natural resources of others at their expense, only to fail because of resistance, either as one nation or in case one leader falls, guerilla warfare, protests and even standing trial in front of the conquerer’s leader. Sometimes we need this equilibrium- enemies, archrivals, even the simplest counterpart in order to stop the conquest and greed, as well as leave the society of others alone. Without that balance in power, people become displaced, as seen in a previous article written, seek comfort of other countries and regions that are willing to do the work that their home country failed doing because of the lack of power to resist.

When Adolf Hitler seized power in 1933, many Germans fled the country for fear their freedom of expression would become ashes through the Holocaust. Those who stayed and tried resisting his regime were arrested and executed. This was proved by the Night of Long Knives on 30 June- 2 July, 1934, where the Nazis purged various offices and homes and arrested many people Hitler claimed as enemies of the Third Reich. Although the official number of people killed by the raids was 85, other sources claimed over 100. This included Fritz Gerlich, a journalist who wrote about the dangers of Hitler before being arrested and later killed in Dachau.

Yet still, we keep fighting for our right and try to put the government in its place, showing it that we need this checks and balances- this democracy of/by/for the people and not for the select few, a society that is not dystopian but equal with the right to express ourselves within the comfounds of regulations enforced by law. And this is where The Fire Within, our genre of the week comes in. Written by Sophie Scholl, the narrative, written before her execution in 1943, shows how many of us try to have our own living, even if it means fighting for it. Each of us has a way of dealing with our environment- through silence or through action. Yet, as she describes it in detail with a comic strip drawn by Zen Pencils, our actions do have one consequence in the end, but it is for one purpose. Society needs equilibrium in order for the country to have its own checks and balances; in order for society and the government to co-exist peacefully.  More on this here:

Quote from Sophie Scholl; Link to strip:

To end this profile, here is a question worth asking: If Nixon visits China and Willi Brandt visits Erich Honecker, then for what purpose? Is it for the purpose of making peace or for the pursuit of power and if so, in what way? Who benefits and who loses in the deal? Comparing that time period (the 1970s) with the current situation in the present (and this includes intervention from outside), one can ask if we are happy with our own surroundings and what the government is doing for us (and for the people immigrating here for a better life as well), or if not, what we need to do to improve the situation. And if so, how…..  Have a look at your own surroundings tonight, after reading this, and ask yourself if and how we can make these changes…..

More on Sophie Scholl and her life and involvement in the White Rose Movement can be found here.

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Genre of the Week: Zwerg Nase (Chef Nose the Elf)


Every profi was once a beginner. Every profi learns from his master. Every profi is best at what he does. But if the profi is missing something, then no matter how well he does with his job, that profi will never feel complete until he finds what he is looking for.

This is the theme of this week’s genre, which is a fairy tale entitled Zwerg Nase (in English: Chef Nose the Elf). Written by Wilhelm Hauff in 1826 and adapted for film at least three times, the focus of the story is on the main character, a 12-year old boy named Jakob, son of a shoemaker and a stallholder selling produce in the market square of a small German town. In the story, Jakob helps his mother sell fruit and vegetables when a old witch comes and asks him for herbs. She then chooses cabbage and has him carry them to her place, where she kidnaps him and holds him hostage for seven years. Jakob learns the profession of cooking but he encounters a special herb that converts him to an elf with a crooked nose. From there, things go down hill, as he is shunned by society- even his own parents disregard him and consider him gone. Yet, he finds a way to climb back from rock bottom, as you can see in the video below……

Despite his success as a cook, he found that through his befriending with a goose, he felt there was something missing that needed to be found. He eventually finds the herb that converted him into the elf, and after smalling it, returns to his form as a human, and things return to what they were, despite him growing older by 12 years. His goose companion becomes a beautiful woman. And he reunites with his parents, who had given up hope on ever seeing him again many years before. In other words, through his discovery of the truth, the family reunion became the one made in heaven, as seen in the film above. :-) <3

This version of the film above is highly recommended because of the actors/ actresses in the film- among them, Mechthild Großmann (who plays the old witch), famous for her role as Commissioner Klemm in the Tatort- Münster series. Her role as the witch is perfect because of the wicked personality- wicked enough that the author is waiting for a Tatort scene where she grabs a person by the collar and threatens him with a Gollum, the Wicked Witch of the West comment: “I’ll get you my precious, if it’s the last thing I do!” 😉

But on the serious side, Zwerg Nase takes the theme of satisfaction to a new level. No matter how great a person is in his profession, the person is not completely whole unless all the pieces of the puzzle in life are found and placed in their rightful places. This includes factors, like love, the truth, real identity and happiness. You can be the greatest, yet how can it be shared when there is no one to share it with, let alone have that person value your work and you as a person? A facade can only be held for a short time, especially when the truth is revealed. And as shown in the film, the truth sometimes can hurt, but in the long run, it makes you even stronger than before. And sometimes, the quest for the truth, and the person who admires you and whom you love, can take lots of time and efforts before it is revealed. For Jakob, it took many years to find that the elf, the famous cook, was a facade waiting to be revealed. And in the end, he got more than what he bargained for.

So the author’s word of advice to all is this: If you are really good at what you are doing and have garnered immense popularity, but feel constantly unhappy on the inside, have a chance to look at yourself and ask yourself why? Is there something missing? Is there a person blindsiding you with praise that you have never had in a long time? If so in this case, then it is time to start digging for the truth. And sometimes, as seen in the story, the truth can be as beautiful as the person blindsiding you. :-)

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The Beamer and Laptop: An Inseparable Love Affair


If there is a rule book on how to effectively teach an English as a Foreign Language class and there is a section on the usage of technology, one should expect to abide by the following two rules:

  1. No matter how hard you prepare, always expect the element which will make you feel unprepared, and
  2. The beamer and the laptop are like a relationship between a man and a woman: No matter how hard you try, if they don’t connect, it doesn’t work.

The usage of technical equipment in the classroom, be it the beamer or the Smartboard, or be it a video conference call or technical equipment with special features to ooh and ahh the students, has become more and more popular for use in any class, including foreign language teaching. Yet no matter how much experience and competence the teacher has with the use of technical equipment, something bizarre can happen at any time, which there is no control over.

This takes us to the love affair between the laptop and the beamer. Usually, like a man loving a woman, when a laptop is connected with the beamer, then it must work 100% of the time, right? Not in the case of the story of a teacher and a group of students working at a large electronics company in Germany recently. The story behind it is as follows:

In the first three months of teaching English for business, the group met in a small classroom that featured a mobile beamer, speakers and a flip chart with markers. The teacher provided his own laptop, which was an Acer running on Windows 8. The beamer was used to show students the vocabulary of certain words covered in a chapter- a way of saving paper used from the flip chart. The connection between the beamer and the laptop worked well, with no problems whatsoever. After the third month, the group moved to a bigger room- a conference room, which was equipped with an overhead beamer. This is where the problem began…..

Normally the overhead beamer did not have any problems with any laptops used by the company employees and executives. This was claimed and testified by the students having used the beamer before, and all the computers were also running on Windows 7 or 8. In the case of the teacher’s laptop, when connected to the overhead beamer via cable and activated, there was no connection. The laptop was rebooted and reconnected to the beamer. Again, it didn’t work. The ends of the cable were switched and the two devices were reconnected. Again, sela vie. Both devices were shut down for five minutes before being reactivated again. The laptop and the overhead beamer were reconnected and there was a glimmer of hope as the connection was established. Yet two minutes later, it ceased! The teacher’s face becomes redder with rage as he was running behind schedule and he needed the beamer for a pair of video exercises. Desperate, he has one of the students bring in the mobile beamer where he uses the cable from there to hook the laptop up with the overhead beamer! Didn’t work. He then connected the laptop with the mobile beamer, using that cable. And…….

it worked! :-)

Both the teacher and the students were scratching their heads as to determine the cause of this bad connection between the laptop and the overhead beamer as well as why the connection worked with the mobile one. It was bewitched for some reason. Yet it served as a reminder of a relationship that went awry. No matter how much effort is put in, if a man loves a woman but the feelings are not mutual, one can try everything, but the end result will be either failure or an unhealthy relationship. It can only work if both have something in common and are willing to develop the relationship further. This also applies when a relationship does not work in one environment but works suddenly in a different environment, after a short break.

And while work is underway to determine the cause of the failed connection between the laptop and the overhead beamer, and eventually provide a new cable for the latter, the main idea behind this story is no matter how well-prepared you are for teaching or even a presentation, you can expect something like this to happen, just a much as a relationship going bad. So keep this in mind next time:


Thank you! 😀

Author’s Note: The photo was taken at a different company after a session, where both the beamer and the laptop had a well-established connection. It was not allowed to photograph on the premises of the company where the incident took place. 

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Soccer Team in Saxony Anhalt Banned from League Play

Stadium woes

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MAGDEBURG- It is rare in Germany that a soccer club is forced to disband by a league for violating regulations and/or unlawful conduct. The FC Ostelbein Dornburg soccer team, located in Jerichow District near Stendal in Saxony-Anhalt, became the first team in a decade to be suspended by a soccer league. According to information by German public radio station MDR, the State Soccer League of Saxony-Anhalt voted unanimously to remove the team from league play, effective immediately. The reason behind that is the team’s history of violence again other teams and the soccer officials. In addition, the majority of the team consists of right-wing extremists.  In addition to its suspension, the team has also been evicted from their soccer field in Leitzkau. The town council voted unanimously to terminate the lease effective immediately.  The last attempt to save the team will come with an appeal to the State Sports Association of Saxony-Anhalt. The committee will decide in November whether the suspension of the team is justified for the above-mentioned reasons. If the ruling is upheld, then the team will become the first to be disbanded by order of law but the second in three years to be disbanded in general. In 2012, FC Saxony Leipzig was disbanded due to liquidation for not having enough financial support to keep the team operating.  It is hoped that the possible forced disbanding of FC Ostelbein Dornburg will serve as a signal that, especially during the time of the refugee crisis in Germany, that extremism is not to be tolerated anywhere, even on the soccer field.

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Refugee Crisis in Europe: A Chance or a Hindrance for Society?

Blue Mound 4

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Refugees in Europe: a topic that has become the centerpiece of all discussions at home and in public. It’s a topic that we have tried to ignore for so long, but we can no longer do. It’s a topic where many of us have become ignorant of the feelings of those who came to Europe for a reason- to escape poverty and war. Instead we end up indulging in hate: hate towards them, those who help them and even the journalists who write or even talk about them. A famous example of how a journalist took the hit and fired back was a commentary by Anja Rescke of the German public TV station NDR recently:

In response to her comment, I as a columnist have to quote about about this situation: Many of us come to Europe because we are tired of the social and economic pathologies that we had grown up with and tolerated for most of our lives. This include political debates that tear families apart, racial violence that rips the fabric of society, widening gaps in between the rich and poor, and the exponential increase in paranoia because of a misdemeanor in school that is blown out of proportion and considered a felony in the eyes of police and the principal. If you have read about a child’s homemade clock that was brought to school and was considered a bomb, you would understand my reasoning there. 😉 We have tried so hard to tame society to follow the leader like blind naive lambs being lead to the slaughter house. End result: we have been deprived our right to freedom of speech, expression, movement and action.

And this is speaking from a point of view of an American who has been living in Germany for 16 years now.  Sad, isn’t it? :-(

The situation with the refugees in Europe is no different: their homelands are in shambles, terror groups are taking over the countries, starting a holy war and suppressing the population in a brutal way, and all hope is lost, despite intervention by the US and its allies which has been meagre at best. These people are fleeing to Europe not for the sake of imposing their ways on others or making lives of their residents difficult, but they want to make a living like the ones who move there from Asia, the Americas and Australia, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, the largest influx of refugees in European history has caused a strain in the social infrastructure, let alone violence from right-winged groups. Even pressure is being applied to politicians to put a cap on the refugees coming in. A video shown below, where German chancellor Angela Merkel breaks the heart of a refugee wanting to live in Germany, is a testament showing that not everyone can live and work in a country as they please, despite the need to integrate them into society and have them fill in the gaps in many areas of industry, left behind by many either retiring or emigrating Germany:

Germany is one of a few destinations for the refugees, and with over 800,000 coming in- the highest in German history. Whether this is a blessing or a curse remains to be determined, but one thing is for sure: The majority of the German population, as informed and open as they are, would rather have them in their society than the right-winged radicals who still believe Hitler was the greatest, when in all reality he was anything BUT that. Germany has lots to offer, speaking from personal experience, and the population understands that well. Hence the embracing of people so that they can start over. It’s a well understandable explanation. However….

frage für das forum

Why choose Germany instead of the USA or other countries in Europe. This is for you to answer. Here’s a few questions that you can discuss, even with your students in class. They include:

  1. What are the benefits Germany has to offer in comparison with other European countries?
  2. What drawbacks could the refugees imagine having when living in Germany, APART from the language barrier?
  3. Imagine this situation: A family of refugees decide to move into your village or town. How would you help them get integrated into society? Would you be open to their culture and way of life?
  4. (Continuing from Nr. 3) Would you take a class in a language of the regions where the refugees are coming from (Russian, Arabic, Persian)?
  5. Would you embrace their religion or keep your faith? Why?
  6. In your opinion, if the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan were to end and the areas would be rebuilt, would you help in the efforts? Do you think the refugees would return and why?
  7. In connection with the author’s quote below, imagine this situation: Do you think this refugee crisis would have been hindered had it not been for the anti-Terror policies of George W. Bush, which included wars in two countries where most of the refugees are coming from? Why or why not?

To end this article I would like to present a grim reality to George W. Bush- the man who started the war in Iraq to ouster Saddam Hussein in an attempt to finish the job started by Bush Sr. This is aside the campaign to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan, which was supposed to be short and sweet.   It was not necessary to start the war in the first place, and we really do not know if the arguments for justifying the war was relevant with the attacks of 11 September 2001. But we do know this: The mission has not been accomplished, as seen in the picture on board the USS Abraham Lincoln. Not even close. Because if it had been accomplished, Iraq would have been completely rebuilt, as much as when Germany was rebuilt after World War II. We would not have terrorists chasing people out of their homes nor would we have this refugee crisis right now. In fact, we would not be drowning in hatred towards these innocent people looking for a better life than what they had. This war in Iraq, which thanks to ISIS, has spread into Syria,  is the longest war in the American history books so far, and one that has yet to be ended. Unfortunately, it is up to the other countries- not the US- to finish the job. My question to W. and those who still claim the Iraqi war was justified is this: Was this really necessary and why?

five years flfi

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