Monday, May 17, 2010

3 Days of Work for 4 Days in Berlin!


One thing that I realized through out this week was that I never actually told everyone what exactly I’m doing over here. So I figured that I would start this entry off with a little description of what’s going on.

Ike Lahue, Bethany Creed, and myself all got assigned to work at the Wartburg Castle to help with some of the basic public relations work in the castle including: an article for The Lutheran Magazine about the Luther Decade, a video guide of the castle to be brought back to Wartburg, some minor translating, and a few English tours through out the castle. But as our last week of work is beginning I can only imagine it is going to a long, but fun, week. This week we have a interviews for the article lined up with the lord Mayor of Eisenach, the head of the castle and a few other tasks that need to be finished up.

But enough about work, we got off early this week because of the German holiday of Ascension (Christ’s trip to heaven.) So we decided to celebrate by going to Berlin. Once again we all rolled out bed early and caught the train out of Eisenach. So one stop and four hours later we made it. But I thought Munich was a busy place… clearly I had never been to Berlin. People were EVERYWHERE! And being a guy of bigger proportion, this makes fitting into small spaces with lots of people a rather difficult task. :) But I managed to make it and soon we made the trek to our hostel. It was a very nice place and not at all what I was expecting it to be. It had a loft-style room with 6 beds, a balcony, ect. The only downside, it was 2 bus stops and 30 minutes from the downtown area, which was ok… once I figured out was going on. Once we all got settled in, it was time to go to supper; this is where I experienced the glory of a “Berliner Wiesser,” a delicious concoction of raspberries and wheat beer. (I understand that sounds pretty gross, but it is very good.) Once again we met up with the Marberg trip for the weekend and they made it just in time for the Cabaret Show. This was… um.. We’ll say interesting. It was very good, don’t get me wrong, it had everything from trapeze artists to ice dancing to some other acts that could be interpreted a few different ways. The show finished up around 10 or so and with all of the traveling we decided to call it a night and save up some energy for the nights to come.

The second day brought sight seeing and museum walking. The first stop of the day was at the Pergamonmuseum. This is the home of many historical temples and monuments from Turkey. Next stop on the tour was the Brandenburg Gate, one of the biggest national symbols in Germany. Up next were the new Jewish Memorial, Kaiser Wilheom Gedachtnis, and finally the Sony Center. But after hours and hours of sight seeing we took a few hours to wonder around the city, only to top off the night with a front row seat to the Blue Man Group show. (Which was awesome!)

On the third day, we hoped on the bus to East Germany and went through the Charlie’s Checkpoint Museum. This was important because it was the checkpoint into the American section of Germany once the war was over. It was one of the most powerful museums that we went through. It showed me what everyone had to go through just survive the post-war. Next on the Berlin checklist was a trip to the famous Rihgstag building. Before the war, this building was the main government building, but got destroyed. After being rebuilt, it became one of the biggest attractions because of the obeservitory that was built on top of the building. This allowed people to get a full view of everything that the city has to offer; it was unbelievable. (Unfortunately my camera died so no pictures.) After that finished up, we had the rest of the night to go explore the nightlife that Berlin had to offer. We came to find out that the Berlin had a soccer match that night against none other then Munich. (Which we saw in Munich.) So the downtown area was out of control. The pubs were packed and full of chanting soccer hooligans, it was so much fun. (I uploaded the video so you could get a little taste of the EuropaCenter after the game.) It was a great way to close out the night.

On our final day in the city we went to the American church and Jewish Museum before leaving heading back to Eisenach. This church was not at all what I was expecting because of how up beat and modern the services were. One fact about the church that shocked me was that it is located in a very rough neighborhood of East Berlin, and yet so many different people from over 20 different nationalities were in attendance. And after walking through the museum it was time to leave Berlin behind us, and head back to Eisenach.

Well, that’s all I have for now, next weekend is open, but a few of us decided not to waste it and are planning a trip to Amsterdam!! So check back next week to see how we do on our own!

Auf Wiedersehen,


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oktoberfest in May!

Hello once again!

This week has been slightly better as I have begun to adapt to the way of the German, just in time to get thrown into a completely different part of the German culture, Munich. This past weekend we traveled to the south German state of Bavaria, where we stayed in Munich for 3 days. It was an awesome trip as we did everything that Munich had to offer, and then some!

We started the trip early Friday morning with a four-hour train ride from Eisenach to Munich. As soon as we arrived in Munich we got checked into our hotel and kind of got settled in for a bit, but we were all itching to go explore the city, so that is exactly what we did. The first thing that Pastor Trachte did was to take us down to the Old Market place and the Marian Plates, this was the downtown area of the city and it was packed with so many people. We wondered around the downtown area of Munich until around 7 or so when we met up with the Marburg trip were we went to one of the many beer halls that Munich is known for. It was awesome; nothing beats good people, good food, (and since I AM in Germany,) good beer. We were greeted at the Augusteinerkeller by a group of traditional Germans. It was so fun provided that it works, I am going to upload the video so you can see it, it was really fun. And that meal pretty much wrapped up the first day in Munich.
The second day brought more traveling as we took a bus to an hour outside of the city to a few more Historical portions of the countryside. The first stop on the tour was the Linderhof Palace, this was King Ludwig the Second’s mountainside palace. As we approached the second stop, we started to get higher, and higher, into what they call the “Low Alps.” The sight was just indescribable. (Again… with any luck I’m planning on posting a few pictures.) The final stop on our tour was at the castle of Neuschwanstein. This castle was HUGE!! it is said to be the castle that the Disney logo is based off of. And I understand why, it looks exactly like it. As we made our way back to the city, we hustled up to make sure that we made our reservations at the famous Hofbrauhaus, another one of Munich’s famous beer halls. This time we walked in and had entertainment shows, as well as a buffet. (YUMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!) After 3 plates of amazing food and an undisclosed amount of delicious beer, it was finally time to call it a night.
The final day brought a beautiful day in the city, and a lot of celebration as Bavaria won the German National Soccer League just the night before. This was defiantly a sight to see, never in my life have I seen that many people crammed into a downtown area. I guess this just goes to show how dedicated the European Soccer fans can be. But after a great day in the sun, it was time to board the train and head back to Eisenach for a three-day workweek, as we will be taking off to Berlin on Thursday!

Auf Wiedersehen!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Finally Made It!

Hello from Eisenach!! After almost a week of recovering from the jet-lag I am finally able sit down and write about our trip.

The six of us, (Bethany, Ike, Stephan, Brianna, Pastor Trachte, and myself) started our May Term journey in Chicago where we caught an 8 and a half hour over night plan to Frankfurt. It was ROUGH, but over all worth it.

From there we traveled to Rottenburg. There we toured the intercity that has been completely restored to look authentic. Here we experienced our first official bratwurst. (very good!!)

Hello from Eisenach!! After almost a week of recovering from the jet-lag I am finally able sit down and write about our trip.

The six of us, (Bethany, Ike, Stephan, Brianna, Pastor Trachte, and myself) started our May Term journey in Chicago where we caught an 8 and a half hour over night plan to Frankfurt. It was ROUGH, but over all worth it.

From there we traveled to Rottenburg. There we toured the intercity that has been completely restored to look authentic. Here we experienced our first official bratwurst. (very good!!)

The next stop on our trip was in Nuendettelsau. Here we stayed at a missionary for 2 days. Throughout those days we toured the city with Wartburg Seminary alum Horst Becker. He took us to all of the historical sites that the village had to offer, as well as, inviting us into his home for some good conversation where we all learned more about the German culture.

From Nuendettelsau, we continued our journey to Eisenach, with one stop in Nuremberg. This stop was very powerful as this city of almost 100,000 people was over 85% ruble after the war. We went and walked around the main intercity, it was just amazing how they were able to restore everything. One portion of the german culture that struck us all as odd was the fact that all german stores close down between 6 and 7P.M. during the week, and most close around 1 on Saturdays and don’t open at all on Sundays.

From there, it was simple hop, skip, and jump to Eisenach. I was so excited to finally make it here, then realize how hard the language barrier would be, i am struggling but its starting to get easier. :) on the first day, we met the Lord Mayor of the city as well as went on a tour of the city. the next day we started our internships, I'm at the Wartburg Castle and it is just awesome view of the city, and i suppose the work is fun too. :)

That is all I have for now, I am hoping to post a few pictures and some video as soon as I can get the time to edit it!

Auf Wiedersein,


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recap of New Orleans

This is a few days overdue but last week on Friday our group divided into two separate groups within the lower 9th ward. My group put some sheetrock (drywall) on the upper floor of a town house. I was glad that we were able to do some construction work but the foreman in charge was a little crazy. He ran around with his head cut off and wanted his volunteers to work as quickly as humanly possible. He didn't want to waste any materials. For example he made us put up a piece of sheetrock that was poorly cut. The gap between the two pieces of sheetrock was wide enough for me to use the Flip cam effectively with a shot that went through the gap. However, that was the lone incident that I wouldn't have done what he did.
Then during the night we went to eat at a restaurant called Oceania. It was a half block off Bourbon Street within the French Quarter. I had an alligator Po-Boy and it was awesome! It was such great food.
We left New Orleans early on Saturday morning and arrived in Waverly at 4a.m. on Sunday.
The trip was such a great experience. I would advise all students to go on a service trip before they graduate. You get do help people who while creating great friendships in a new city.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

City Park New Orleans

Today (Thursday) and yesterday (Wednesday) we went to city park to do some restoration of the city park. The first day our group mulched a trial that circled the north side of the park. Then we had a few others that did some gardening work for the botanical garden. We made great progress on the trail the city park director we worked with, Jim Morrision, was grateful for the progress that we made.

In the afternoon we went to a local elementary school to help the teachers in teaching their students. I was amazed at how different the educational system was. The building was built after Katrina and the building looked nice. However, when we went through the school the situation was much different. The students were out of control. Children in kindergarten told us some expletive words. The children were out of control and in the classroom I was in, were out of control. The teacher I was with just kept yelling and yelling at her students. The situation varied from class to class but in my personal view, the students need more positive reinforcement and more resources.

That night we went down to the French Quarter and Bourbon St. The atmosphere there was crazy. There were people everywhere and music filled the street. It was a great place to visit.

Today (Thursday) we went back to the park and we were in charge of students from the Lutheran school district. We divided the school children into different groups and they did various tasks around the park. The school children did everything from picking up trash to pulling ragweed. The school children had a good time and so did we.

Tomorrow we are going to the 9th ward doing construction work.

Andrew Bridgewater

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Denver Service Trip Day 4

My internet hasn't been working. So here is the post I meant to publish last night:
Yesterday (Tuesday), we volunteered at the Food Bank of the Rockies. We were put to work sorting outdated meat that was still okay for families to use and from meat that was not. In the afternoon, we sorted dry food into forty pound boxes. We actually got finished with all of this about three hours earlier than the food bank expected and had time to go back to the church where we are staying and chill for a little while. We, then, got a tour of Wartburg West which seems like an awesome opportunity. The apartments seem a little small, but are in a great location for getting to internships and other restaurants and activities. My favorite part of the night was going to the Alumni dinner and seeing all of these people who are so proud of the college. So have been out for 40 or so years and they still come to these functions and check the Wartburg Web site every day and just promote the college as much as possible. They wanted to know all of our stories and encouraged us to come out and visit them at any time!

Today was AWESOME as well! We started out at the food bank again dividing damaged goods from those that could be salvaged and packaging them into boxes. We, again, finished before they thought we would and throughout the time we were working, they had to keep telling us to slow down. We kept saying to each other that it was because of our Mid-Western values and the way we were raised that we have such a great work ethic that they were not used to. After that we went to Colfax Community Network which is the same after school program that we help out with on Monday. The kids were SUPER energetic and loved all of the attention we could give them! The room was a little crowded with 19 of us and 13 kids, but the kids enjoyed all of the one on one time we could give them. The craft I was helping with was making butterflies with the kids out of wax paper, crayon shavings and an iron. It got a little messing at times, but the kids loved it! They made one or more butterflies!

The after school program is my favorite part because I love working with kids. I love giving them one on one attention while reading or doing crafts with them. You never know what they are going to say especially with these kids!

Two more days of service and then homeward bound! I don't want to leave this BEAUTIFUL city!

Here are some pictures of the things we have been doing this week!
Grant Moser and Hollis Hanson-Pollock preparing food at the soup kitchen.

Andrew Cunard and Nadene hanging out at the Colfax Community Network.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day Two Boys and Girls Club

I’ll try to leave off and add a bit to Andrew Bridgewater’s previous posts. Today was our second day at the Boys and Girls Club/ NFL Youth Education Village. It’s a really neat place built by the NFL and maintained by both organizations. The Saints football team visits the facility so you can defiantly tell their pride all around. We met some great people there and being our second day they started to open up to us. We learned how hard it was first hand to get out of the city of New Orleans, and that one of the children that frequents the club was found clinging to a light post. It made us realize that even though we felt like we were not working hard enough, it means a lot to people to have places to go. I did not think about how weird it would be not having organizations and businesses available. Today at the club we cleaned and organized inside, (it was storming outside) and tried to make it nicer for the kids. Then after a full morning of work the camp director loaded us on to the club van to show us the Lower Ninth Ward.

The tour was more real then I could have ever imagined. For the first time in our trip we saw numbers of people who lost their lives in the very houses we were looking at. We also saw holes people had made in roofs to escape their attics. There is still so much left to be done. There is progress, I highly recommend visiting, but there is so much left to do especially in the ninth ward. I would like to remind people to keep the Katrina areas in their thoughts because they are still in need of help and donations.

Brianna Nielsen

Monday, March 8, 2010

Peace and Blessings

This is a picture of two other members of my service trip gazing at the mountains after we reach the top on our hike.

The BEAUTIFUL mountains of Estes Park

Today, we help out at a soup kitchen and the after school program. Both were really great and eye-opening experiences. The soup kitchen made me thankful for all that I have and all that I can do for others. The people there were so gracious. One of the server/preparers we were working with said they never know who will show up to help and how much food they will have, but they always have enough food and help and she just thanks God for all of her blessings.

During the after school program, I had the opportunity to work with kids that come from broken homes. Some don't even have homes and they live in a different hotel every night. The hotels have drug dealers and prostitutes around them and it's just sad that the kids have to experience this. We read books and played games with them before they had to leave.

The Untouched Gym

The untouched gym is at the Boys and Girls Club near downtown New Orleans. The Superdome was just a couple of blocks away. We were what the Americorps volunteer called "beautification" of the building. Basically we did some clean up work in and around the building and a vacant lot across from the building. In the afternoon, we discovered an empty gym that hadn't been cleaned up from Katrina. The roof was partly torn, the wooden floor was covered in several layers of dirt. We thought that the floor had been removed but it was so covered we couldn't see it. The second layer was covered in sand. It looked like people just had just got up and left right before Katrina struck. Words can not describe the destruction and the eeriness. Tomorrow we are returning to the Boys and Girls Club and were taking a tour of New Orleans.

Andrew Bridgewater

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Smokey Mountain Range...

I titled this one, "Smokey Mountain Range" because I had the chance to go to wonderful Estes Park, CO and walk along the mountains on a one mile trail to Alberta Falls. Unfortunately, the waterfall was frozen and we couldn't really tell that it was a water fall! The mountains were BEAUTIFUL! I could not stop taking pictures of them. It was a warm day walking on the trail, so it was a little weird having the sun beating on my face, but the cold from the snow soaking into my shoes. My face got a little sun burnt. I got to meet one of Renee Voves's friends in the area, Kevin, and he talked about his experiences at Wartburg. He was a broadcast/PR major, so we found a lot to talk about! He led us through the park and showed us around.
I also got to experience Casa Bonita, a restaurant you should visit if you're ever in Denver. There is a waterfall in the middle of the restaurant where performers and customers have the opportunity to take a plunge. Also a mariachi band band roams around the restaurant while playing. It was pretty sweet!
Tomorrow we actually start our service. Our service trip is centered around working with those in poverty, so we have the chance to help out at The Boys and Girls Club, the food bank, and an after school program.

Pictures of the mountains will be posted tomorrow as I am having trouble uploading them.


WTV8 Staffers Blog About Service Trip Activities

Follow the WTV8 staffers all week as they report during their various Wartburg College Service Trip opportunities!

Ellen Kurt is with a group in Denver, CO; Andrew Bridgewater and Brianna Nielsen are with their IS 201 class in New Orleans, LA; Justin Conner is in Tennessee; and Maribel Lopez and Nate Vaughn are in Costa Rica.

Other staff members are spending break outside of Iowa, as well.

Stay tuned for updated postings!

--Dr. Jeff Stein, Wartburg Television faculty adviser

New Orleans Update

The food at Camp Restore is awesome! I have become a huge fan of jambalaya after trying it for the first time tonight!

Andrew Bridgewater

Made it to New Orleans!

We left Wartburg at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and arrived in New Orleans after more than a 1,000 miles and 20 plus hours of driving around 1p.m. We got lost a few times but we made it here in one piece. Trying to sleep was interesting but I managed to get six hours of sleep! We are staying at Camp Restore in East New Orleans. More to come in the days ahead but right now, it's time to relax!

Andrew Bridgewater

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Finally Here!

After 14 hours of sleepless driving and riding, we are finally at Our Savior Lutheran Church in DENVER, CO. Along the way, we discovered that there was a Waverly, Nebraska, that you don't insert the gas card into the receipt slot, and we all came up with unique Indian nicknames for each other. I got to drive through beautiful Colorado as well. Early to bed tonight because we have a full day tomorrow: service at 8 and then off to Estes Park for a day of hiking and exploring! We will also be dining at Casa Bonita tomorrow night for supper!

Off to bed, but will write again tomorrow to catch you up on our adventures!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Denver here we come!

Classes are done for the day and I'm getting started on packing my things up to go to Denver! I'll be traveling with the Student Alumni Council and I'll try to find time during the trip to blog often. We leave tomorrow at 7 a.m. and travel the 12 hours to the church we are staying in and then Sunday, we're up at the crack of dawn getting ready to go to our church service!