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Reflections on Our Experiences in Marburg

Wabash students in their morning language class

Cole Chapman ‘16 – Our time in Marburg is coming to a close, as Friday is the last full day before we leave. The past two weeks have been an experience and an adventure for all of us. From that first step off of the plane, 4,400 miles from home, to our increasingly comfortable knowledge of the city, a lot has happened. That first day was exhilarating yet terrifying. Being in a country where everyone speaks a language you’re still trying to grasp can be a real shock. We rose to the challenge, though, found our feet and fought through, just like we always do. I have become, I now notice, more confident using German around town.

Two students working on an assignment get some help from Almut, a former German language intern at Wabash.

The language school, or “Sprachschule” as we call it, has expanded our vocabulary and our knowledge of Marburg and Germany. School was early, school was long, but school was also helpful. Whether we were learning about “Kneipen” in Marburg or “Kraniche” in flight, we absorbed all we could.

The rest of the time here has been divided between group activities and independent exploration. The activities we did together with Dr. Redding and Dr. Tucker gave us structured learning about the history and culture of such an old city. They also gave us the opportunity to visit interesting cultural and historical sites in other cities such as Frankfurt and Kassel. A large part of our learning experience also came from the exploring and searching that we all ended up doing, either alone or in small groups. We met new people, saw new sites, and experienced a country that was different from anything we had encountered before.

All in all, it has been an amazing and unforgettable immersion trip. We had fun, had some laughs, and learned a lot about a country, a culture, and a language we hold dear. This closing experience for German 202 has encompassed everything we learned back at Wabash and has put that learning in a new light. It’s one thing to need accurate German on a homework assignment, but it’s something quite different to need good German on the bus, on the street, or in the café. All in all, it’s a been a great time, and now home is just around the corner. Tschüss!

Learning About Jewish History in Marburg

David Lawhorn ’15 – Waking up at 6 AM is no easy task for a college student, but having a host family that provides a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and wonderful bread sure makes it easier. After eating my hearty breakfast, I was off to the Sprachschule, or language school. After an intensive couple hours of language instruction, I was excited to go out with Dr. Tucker and Dr. Redding. Also, we had a surprise visit from our former German Language Lab instructor, Maria.

German Professor Greg Redding points out traces of history along the street in Marburg.

First, we visited a Holocaust memorial that was close to our language school. It’s something that we’ve walked past many times, but it’s easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for. It consists of golden stones with the names of Holocaust victims, but these stones are laid in the sidewalk like any other cobble stone. They’re placed in front of the houses where Jews once lived in Marburg. They’re known as “Stolpersteine,” stumbling blocks or stumbling stones, and they are supposed to be a reminder to the younger generations of the people who lived in Marburg and were murdered during the Holocaust. I found these stones intriguing as they contained not only the names of the victims, but also their year of birth and some stones listed the date they were murdered.

After observing these stones, we moved on to a much larger memorial across the street. It was in remembrance of a synagogue that was destroyed in 1938. The memorial sits on a street full of other buildings, and is almost like a scar in the tissue of the city. Where the synagogue once stood, there is now a large, open plot of land with beautiful grass and a bench for people to pause on and reflect. Next to the memorial is a small bronze statue of what the synagogue looked like before the malicious attacks. Our group talked about the moral ramifications of the Holocaust for quite some time while visiting this memorial.

Afterwards, we showed Maria around Marburg and took her to see the Elisabethkirche. Walking uphill has gotten much easier after 10 days, but there is still no way I could live here! She really enjoyed the city and we enjoyed catching up with her. We only have a few days left in Marburg, but we plan to make the most of them!

German Students Make Two Excursions

An old square in central Frankfurt, Germany

Darren Cochran ’16 – On Saturday morning, we took the train south from Marburg to Frankfurt, where we visited the Goethe House and Museum. It was very interesting, because Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was an amazing German writer, artist, and intellectual. The museum showcased numerous pieces of art depicting Goethe and his time, as well as quite a lot of information.

German Professor Brian Tucker talking about the Goethe Haus.

The style of the paintings was just entrancing, bright, and vibrant. After going through the museum, we moved on to Goethe’s childhood home. It is four stories tall with several important rooms on each story. The first thing you see when walking into the house is the exquisite staircase made of sandstone; the first few stairs are the original sandstone steps, the very same ones Goethe and his family walked on.  Throughout the house were the family’s personal belongings, my favorite being a beautiful grandfather clock that told the time, date, phases of the moon, and even the zodiac year. We also got to see the table and lectern at which Goethe wrote several of his most famous works.

Our next stop was the Frankfurt Cathedral, a famous cathedral where the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were elected. The cathedral was very large, but I was disappointed not to be able to see it as it had been before the bombings during World War II. Even rebuilt, though, it was beautiful. It was built in a Gothic style, with the high ceilings, pointed arches, and ribbed vaults that this style is known for.

On Sunday, we traveled in the opposite direction, north to Kassel. I was very excited for this excursion, knowing we would be learning about the Brothers Grimm. After studying law in Marburg, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm spent some of their most productive years in Kassel. The Brothers Grimm have always fascinated me, and almost every child today has grown up on the fairy tales they collected. The first stop was an exhibit that was all about the Brothers Grimm and their accomplishments, as well as how much they have influenced modern culture.

It started with an exhibit that showed the history of the brothers and contained books, journals, portraits, and possessions that were either of historical value or important to them. After that, we went through a very fun and interactive showcase of the two brothers’ work in literature, linguistics, and philology. There was one part that played videos showing the influence the fairy tales still have on contemporary culture. Another showed one of the brothers’ other great achievements, their dictionary of the German language. The volumes filled an entire wall with word after word. It is amazing how much they did in one lifetime.

After the exhibit, we went to a museum that showcased the fairy tales the Brothers Grimm collected. It was a really fun exhibit. For the most famous fairy tales, we got to see many different artistic depictions of the same story. I even learned of some new ones that I need to read.

Saturday and Sunday have definitely been my favorite part of the trip so far. Getting to see all of these amazing buildings and pieces in the museums, as well as learning more about both Goethe and the Brothers Grimm was just amazing.

Final Look at the Healthcare Immersion

Kenniss Dillon ’16, Seton Goddard ’15, Kasey Oetting ’15, Patrick Bryant ’16, Max Gallivan ’16, Hongli Yang ’15, Austin Althoff ’14, Dr. Frank Howland, Ivan Koutsopatriy ’16

Austin Althoff ’14 – Four days, seven alumni speakers, and eight presentations later the inaugural Healthcare Immersion Program has come to an end. I believe this program was a great experience that examined the many different aspects of the ever-changing healthcare industry.  It was very interesting to hear the different aspects of the healthcare industry from people who practice medicine, work in management, and work on the business development side of the industry.  These discussions provided important information on how the future of the healthcare industry and the Affordable Care Act will affect patient, physician, and those involved on the business aspect of the industry.

On the first day of the program we heard presentations from Barney Niezer ’78 and Dr. Frank Kolisek ’82.  This was very interesting as Mr. Niezer has been involved in hospital management and development in Fort Wayne, while Dr. Kolisek is an orthopedic surgeon for Ortho Indy.  Mr. Niezer gave an in depth analysis of how hospital development has affected the Fort Wayne healthcare system, and how this will affect the future of the healthcare industry for Fort Wayne.  Dr Kolisek gave a very good perspective of how the changes in healthcare from the early 1990s and the Affordable Care Act are affecting physicians and private practice.  This was very interesting information that showed how the way physicians provide healthcare has been changing and will experience even more changes in the immediate future.

For day two we were able to tour St. Vincent Hospital and the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital with Dr. Bernie Emkes ’70.  This was an awesome experience as we got to see the aspects of how a big hospital organization operates.  We even got to meet another Wally, Dr. Little ’92 who is one of the two main doctors in the E.R. of the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.  After our visit to St. Vincent, we visited Scott Benedict ’98 at Tx:Team. Here we got to learn about how companies are providing on-site healthcare to its employees.  Additionally, this showed how companies are working to provide healthcare to its employees.

For our final day in Indianapolis we were able to hear from Dr. John Miller ’76, Mike Haugh ’86, Jim Miller ’80.  Like the previous days we were able to hear about the healthcare industry from a physician’s viewpoint and the viewpoint of those on the business side.  This entire program provided different information and viewpoints of the healthcare industry as whole.  It was very useful information that has made me a much more informed individual about the current state and future of healthcare in the U.S.

Our trip came to end on Thursday with presentations to the Wabash Community over what we had learned from our three days of immersion learning.  I believe my peers and myself helped to provide important insights on what we had learned about the ever-changing healthcare industry.  I would like to thank Dr. Frank Howland and Ms. Betsy Knott for organizing this program.  Additionally, I would like to thank all of our alumni speakers for contributing to the program and the Lilly Endowment Fund for making this trip possible.

Castle History Impresses Mull ’16

Wabash students explore the fortifications around Marburg’s castle

Jacob Mull ’16 – On Wednesday the 8th, we took a tour of the old castle that overlooks Marburg. The reddish-brown sandstone castle sits high above all the other parts of town. You’re almost always looking up at it, wherever you go, so we had been walking in its shadow for several days before we got the chance to explore it ourselves. For military and history buffs like me, this tour was a real highlight. Besides being a humble abode for various lords over the years, the castle also serves as a living history to the evolution of warfare in Europe. It has several fortifications that throughout its history have been modified to better defend it form the various weapons and tactics that were being developed.

The castle was built in 1228 and followed the standard format of the period with a commanding view of the area and steep narrow paths of advance for enemy forces. (Believe me, after climbing stairs for at least half an hour to get up there, I truly understand the tactical obstacle that steep, narrow paths present.) After the introduction of artillery into European warfare, it became necessary to renovate the castle’s defenses. This led to the construction of the so-called Witches Tower in 1500. The Witches Tower served two roles: first, it was an artillery bastion to aid in defending the castle, and second, it was as place for accused “witches” to be held.

After we finished our tour of the Witches Tower, we proceeded to walk along the old ramparts and bulwarks of the castle where the cannons were placed overlooking the old city. We then headed underground, through the cave-live tunnels that run beneath the fortifications. The castle’s fortifications, even in their current impressive state, are still nowhere near the glory they would have been in their prime. Several of the older fortifications made obsolete by improved weapons were destroyed by Napoleon’s army in 1807. The outer walls which once stood 15 meters now stand a mere 1.5 meters tall. These factors aside, the castle is still an incredibly defensible position and would prove a challenge for even a modern army to occupy or take from a determined defending force.

These military fortifications were for me probably the most fascinating part of the tour, but the castle is significant for other reasons as well. For example, in 1529, it was the site of the Marburg Colloquy, a meeting between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli that attempted to resolve some of the disputed points in Protestant theology.

Holmes ’14 Embraced Chicago Experience

Tyler Holmes ’14 – From the day students at Wabash step onto campus they are told that they will transform, grow, and evolve through experiences offered by the college that take their students to areas all over the world. It was my privilege this past week to be a part of one of these highly influential experiences the college offers. This experience was a week-long urban immersion teaching class in Chicago, Illinois.
During my week in Chicago I had the opportunity to experience numerous cultures, events, activities, and most importantly inner-city schools. All of these activities were significant but what I learned by being in my host school, known as Prosser Career Academy, was beyond humbling and what I learned there is beyond words. My time at Prosser included many wonderful moments, some demoralizing moments, but ultimately there were moments that left me with an undeniable sense that education is where I belong. To explain this previous statement and why I feel so strongly about this trip, I will give an example from the day I taught a lesson to a creative writing class.
One of my main objectives during this trip was to answer a question I posed too myself at the beginning of the week. This question was how teachers in urban settings gain respect from such a diverse group of students. I felt that this question was highly important and one that every future teacher should attempt to answer for themselves prior to teaching. Throughout the week I noticed how my host teacher treated and acted around her students and what I found might seem obvious but it is a goal that many put to the side and do not realize just how important it is. What I found was that honesty, sincerity, and genuine care for the students’ lives far outweighed the importance of the amount of knowledge the teacher has. This became irrefutably clear during my lesson I taught. At the beginning of the class when I was asking general questions to the students they seemed to not care I was there and did not want to hear what I was saying. However when I gave a personal story that led into the rest of the lesson, they became more open, participated, and even read some extremely personal narratives that they had written. This moment led to my realization on just how important respect, honesty, and sincerity are and it definitely influenced my future teaching.
Again, this trip was valuable just through all of the cultural experiences we had during the week but what I think is so important was the humbling experiences we all had in our urban schools that are quite different from those in Crawfordsville, Indiana. I am proud to say I was a part of this immersion trip and it is certainly one that I will remember for life.

Leonard ’13 Learned Classroom Skills

Ian Leonard ’13 – After spending six days in Chicago, it’s safe to say that there are a number of things I’ve learned that I can take home from the experience. Having spent the majority of my life in environments quite different from what Chicago has to offer — small, quiet cities and towns — there were certainly plenty of questions I set out to investigate. While the urban setting is quite unlike towns like Crawfordsville, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the culture, both in and out of the classroom. The majority of my time during the urban experience was spent at Prosser Career Academy, located roughly seventy minutes north (by train and bus) from our hostel where we resided.

he experience was very beneficial — particularly from an academic perspective — because my host teacher, Mrs. Nobleza, exposed me to the culture of the school. First and foremost, I was given the opportunity to lead a class by teaching Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for her Freshman AP class. It was really enlightening because I gained valuable experience working with individual groups of students and in addressing the class as a whole. One of the primary questions I planned to investigate during our stay in Chicago was how English classes are structured regarding grammar at Prosser. In working with Mrs. Nobleza, I came to understand that she encourages students to write as much as possible and uses common student mistakes to shape her grammar lessons. She also showed me the value of using technology in the classroom, guiding students through in-class grammar lessons via computer and assigning homework online as well.

I think I also underestimated the importance of public transit in Chicago. The Prosser group, composed of myself and three others, awoke each morning and took both bus and train to arrive at the school. It was an interesting experience to take the same sources of transportation to school as the students. It really opened my eyes to the integral role public transportation played in the education system of Chicago and the workings of the city at large. Even though I’ll be student teaching in Crawfordsville during the fall, this urban experience taught me the importance of adapting to different academic environments, and I’ve come to appreciate what a school like Prosser has to offer as a result. Ultimately, I’ve gained a much better grasp of many aspects of urban education and am encouraged to use what I’ve learned in the educational setting down the road.

German from the Classroom to the Cookout

Wabash men with German college students

Seth Gunderman ’16 – Tuesday was our second day of class at the “Sprachschule”. We learned more about Marburg, its famous people and its history, but we also learned where to find an umbrella. This was essential information because of the pouring rain that occurred most of the day. The intensive language course has been a great success so far.  We have learned a lot about German culture and the city of Marburg.

After class and lunch, we met up with Professor Tucker, who went over the features of Gothic architecture using the St. Elisabeth Church as a model. He also reviewed with us ways to make small talk and get to know someone in German. These exercises in small talk were to prepare us for the day’s highlight — an evening barbeque party with students from the University of Marburg. This meant that after a couple of days getting adjusted to using German and hearing it all around us, we were really put to the test.  It was a great event and a fun evening. We had the opportunity to meet and speak with German college students and get a sense of what student life is really like in Germany.

Once the rain let up, we walked out to a student living unit, where we cooked out together, got to know each other, and talked about life. Many of the conversations were about school and the differences between America and Germany. I talked to a student named Darius most of the time, and I was able to conduct the conversation in German. I found out that Darius is an English major, that he’s from Bonn (the former capitol of West Germany), and that he loves American girls.I also learned that he aspires, when he graduates, to become a German-to-English translator. After a while, Darius wanted me to speak some English with him, and when I did, I was quite impressed. His English (like that of most other young, educated Germans) is very good.

My goal now is to keep studying German and to improve until I can impress native speakers the way he impressed me. Later that night, many of the German students decided to continue the evening and joined us at a local watering hole where we were able to hang out some more and build good connections. Overall, the night was a great experience for all the Wabash students and we were able to make new friends in Germany.

Armbruster ’14 Appreciates Classroom Experience

Kenton Armbruster ’14 – This week I am observing and teaching under my host teacher Ms. Tsitsopoulos at Prosser Career Academy.Her classes consist of freshmen World Studies and senior AP Psychology.Ms. Tsitsopoulos gave me the opportunity to teach her AP Psychology class any subject that I felt would be interesting, so the first things that came to mind was the unit on stress that Dr. Bost did back when I had Introduction to Psychology as a freshman and the unit on attraction that Dr. Horton did in Social Psychology back when I was sophomore.
So, special thanks to Dr. Bost and Dr. Horton for providing me with the foundation to be able to teach these topics.  The students in the AP Psych classes had just taken their AP test on Monday so the unit on stress definitely worked at this time in the year, and attraction is always an interesting topic to go over. 
For my teaching during this week I was able to give a lesson Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to three different classes throughout the day.  These classes were all very different from one another, and this gave me a great opportunity to gain some teaching experience.  I had the opportunity to make lesson plans for the days that I taught, and Ms. Tsitsopoulos was very helpful in guiding me through these. 
The urban experience was probably the most nerve racking for me.  Although I am from Indianapolis I do not have any experience with public transportation, and during this week public transportation was the way in which we traveled everywhere.The trip every morning from the hostel that we were staying at to the school was approximately an hour and fifteen minutes.For this trip the other guys who were also at Prosser and I had to catch a subway and then catch a bus and stay on that for almost forty-five minutes.  The idea of riding public transportation was new and very exciting to me.

Overall this experience was amazing for me.  I was able to teach a total of eight classes.For each of these classes I had to create a full lesson plan in the format of the host school.  I was also able to observe how Ms. Tsitsopoulos conducted her class and her relationships that she had with them.  And most of all I was able to take public transportation to any destination that I needed to go.  The Chicago Urban Education Experience was a very enriching experience for me, and I feel that I am definitely able to take this experience and apply it to my future teaching.

Sladek ’14 Writes About Inner-City Challenges

Nick Sladek ’14 – I am student teaching at Prosser Career Academy. I have primarily been co-teaching in the regular and honors U.S. History classes, but have also gotten to observe the A.P. U.S. History classes that my teacher also leads. Tomorrow I will have the opportunity to see some Psychology and World History classes as well.
Today, I taught the U.S. History classes about the political climate in the 1920s. I taught them about the Russian Revolution and the American reaction that lead to the Red Scare, as well as the Palmer Raids and some Labor Strikes. The students in the regular U.S. History class surprised me by being very responsive to the topics discussed and were very vocal about their opinions. The class discussion we had was very interesting, as I got a good look into the perspective that these students have developed as a result of their background that is so different from my own. One student consistently had very intelligent things to say and made many very good points. At the end of the class I discovered that he was in his third senior year. This amazed me.
I also gave the students an activity to interpret and write about some political cartoons from the era. I was struck by the disparity between the students verbal responses in the class period to the cartoons and their written ones that I graded later in the day. They said excellent things but found it difficult to write them down.
Many times throughout this week I have been frustrated by the school system here. There is a very large number of students that are not engaged and barely scraping by. This was a shock to me and very hard to understand. In my educational background, before college, the students that fit that description were a very small minority. Here, depending on the class, they could be perceived as a small majority. I just couldn’t imagine being a teacher in an environment like that, but I am learning how they cope and work with a student population like that. That has been my biggest question for the week, that I unfortunately only begun to answer. How does a teacher succeed in his role if such a large percentage of the students are opposed to learning?

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