Saturday, July 18, 2015

July 16th and July 17th (More pictures added later)

July 16th
Breezing, greenness, sunshine, along with beautiful landscapes, these are the features standing out in my impression about Weimar, where Goethe spend most of his life. We left Jena in the morning and took about half an hour to arrive in this peaceful but romantic city. It is very exciting to have a short but comprehensive guided tour through Weimar. We walked around the Goethe and Schiller statue, Goethes Gartenhaus, Bauhaus-Museum, Castle, GoetheResidence and so many other landmarks. In the afternoon free time in Weimar, we spent most of our time in the Bauhaus Museum, where presents the artworks, designs from about one century ago. It is a design and art school founded at 1919 in Weimar and moved to Berlin during the Second World War. The style of these presenting artworks are very modern but simple. It is hard for me to realize that those things have an age more than ninety years. It is also fascinating to witness how many things we used today are influence by the designs and ideas from students studying at Bauhaus, for example the design of iPhone, cans for drinks and also pencils that are most common in US. I am really glad to have chances to learn about this art school and its history. Besides those landmarks, we checked a very famous ice cream store in Weimar. As always, food plays a big part in my trips. 
When we came back to Jena, we are all invited to the American day and its exhibition. As a Chinese, this activities is a good learning process for me. The guest speaker from South Poverty Law Center delivered us a wonderful speech about the history of civil Rights movement and the contribution of Martin Luther King. It is surprising to see this connection to Berlin because Dr. King also visited East Berlin to inspire the people there. It is a wonderful lecture to hear.

July 17th 
Cannot believe that this program is coming to an end. Time runs always so fast especially when we enjoy it. In Chinese, there is a very famous quote: “天下没有不散的筵席”, which translated in English is that “everything will come to an end.” It is sad but at the same time, a new journey will start from here. 

Since this is the last day of the program, we didn’t have a lot of activities. We left Jena in the morning. Everything went quite smoothly today. Besides that it was a little breathtaking when we rushed to catch the train. But our group were so organized and everyone was calm so that we arrive at our train two minutes before it came. After two hours trip, we finally came back to Berlin where we spent three weeks. We have some free time in the afternoon before the group dinner. For me, I spent all of my time in the apple store to repair my laptop. It is very lucky that I finally got a spot at Genius Bar. At first, I thought it was battery problem. It finally turned out that my battery just run out of power and my charging cable was mal-function. But we found out there was software issue in my laptop so I have to purchased a external hardware disk to backup all of my data and then reinstall an operational system. I lost all of my programs but it is still better than cannot use it. 

The group dinner was so great. We went to Baraka, which is an Egyptian style restaurant. This is my first time to try this type of food and it is surprising delicious to me. Our lovely instructors Julie and Manuela gave a final conclusion to our program. Just like what Julie said, “it is bitter happy.” Even though the program ended, its impacts on us never came to an end.
Here is some pictures of our dinner from Julie:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Written by Anna von Ravensberg
Tuesday, July 14th

Our first full day in Jena was spent interacting with American Studies students and listening to their presentations on Karl May and the idea of “Indianthusiasm” in Germany. I can tell you right now, it was so strange. Essentially, Karl May was an author in the 19th and early 20thCentury, who was famous for his adventure novels, set in the American Wild West and the Middle East. However, the focus in his books was much different than what Americans associate with Wild West fiction. Instead of idolizing the cowboys as the saviors and the Native Americans as the savages, such as the American Western films we all grew up with do (think John Wayne), Karl May idolized the Native Americans themselves. Karl May, and the subsequent literature and film areas that grew from this infatuation with Indians, emphasized the “simplicity” of the Indian lifestyle, the idea of the “noble savage” and the close connection to the Earth. By the mid 20th Century, Indian Clubs were a popular hobby in Germany. “Karl-May-Spiele” allowed Germans to fulfill their dreams of “being an Indian,” by dressing up as Indians and performing powwows (note: the Karl-May-Speile still happens today). The division of Germany during the Cold War led to complications in the Indianthusiasm community, but the still the hobby lived on and is sill popular today.
After our long, but informative day in class, we were given a small city tour of Jena followed by a pub crawl organized by the student council at Jena. It was fun to finally get to know some the students at Jena in a more informal setting. One girl I talked to said she really enjoyed going to school in a “university town” like Jena, as she had the opportunity to focus on her studies without too many distractions, and knew that any young person she came into contact with was most likely a student. Going to school in Seattle, a much larger city than Jena where the University is not the center of the city, I found this perspective refreshing on what students look for in their education.

Wednesday, July 15th

Oh boy. Today was a long one. We awoke early to catch a bus to Radebeul, a small town about two hours away from Jena, and about 30 minutes from Dresden. It was here we visited the Karl May Museum, an estate previously owned by the beloved author converted into an informational center. The rooms were filled with first editions, antique furniture, and animal skins, a tribute to their noteworthy owner. However, behind the house stood a log cabin that now stands as an exhibition of different native cultures. What we were told was the first exhibit you see when entering the cabin depicts the stereotypical Indian life, as is described in most Karl May novel- Plains Indians with feathery headdresses, women in long braids, tepees, spears, horses, buckskin, etc. You get the picture. But travel further into the museum and you see that there is an attempt to express the vast diversity that exists among Native Americans, from the Northwest Coast to the Southwest to the Plains and everything in between. However, all displays used real artifacts on extreme caricatures of Natives. I’ll be honest, I was extremely uncomfortable looking at the displays, as I felt the information and artifacts really only scratched the surface on the cultures that exist among Native Americans, and the way it was presented seemed that these cultures were just another thing to put on display. I’m not alone in saying I was a bit disoriented by the experience, especially as German school kids ran around me with face paint and feathers in their hair, making stereotypical Indian sounds, and listening to stories from a German man in a wig outside of a tepee. 
But there is an upside! After lunch, we were able to go Dresden, a city that I hope to return to soon, as the four hours we had there were simply not enough to take in everything it offered. It was gorgeous, and the old buildings were strikingly black, a testament to the fire bombings that ravaged the city at the end of WWII. We had a couple hours to explore, and a few of us spent that time looking over some galleries Manuela, our German guide, introduced us to. Manuela studied art in Dresden, and it was so refreshing to see her get so excited about showing us the art gallery she used to work in, and the artists that now use that space. Afterward, we got lunch and roamed around the city, taking in the River Elbe, Frauenkirche, and gelato. Before we knew it, though, we were on a bus back to Jena.
We all fell asleep quickly, as the day was long and tiresome. However, I was able to sneak some laundry into my day, thanks to a Laundromat/bar in Jena that stays open until midnight. You could say I’m a happy camper now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 12, 2015
posted by Lindsey Trimmer


It’s strange to think our whole program woke up in different areas of Europe and had to navigate our way back to Berlin this morning. Karinne, Michaila, Anna and I woke up in Krakow, Poland, however others of us woke up in Prague, in Italy or in other areas of Germany. I was excited to go back to Berlin; although Poland was one of the best countries I’ve visited, and the sites we saw were some of the most incredible things I have ever seen, traveling is such a pain and I just wanted to make it back to Berlin. Berlin now almost feels like home – it feels safe and comfortable, and it’s a relief to know relatively where everything is and to not feel disoriented all the time.
The four of us went to breakfast at a restaurant in the large, old square found in the middle of Krakow that had huge churches, open aired markets, and carriage rides that were about five US dollars a person. Krakow is almost the complete opposite of Berlin; although there are tourists throughout the city, most of them were from other parts of Poland or from more local EU countries as opposed to the thousands of American and Australian tourists you can find in Berlin. The streets of Krakow are shut down during the day, so pedestrians and carriages can wander through the streets without worrying about cars. Our program has consistently reflected on how laid back the lifestyle seems in Berlin and the importance the culture places on free time to relax and I was very surprised to feel like Krakow had even more of this.
Krakow also seemed a lot smaller than Berlin. The four of us decided not to buy a public transportation card and instead spend the weekend walking around the city. The farthest we ever walked was about twenty minutes when we visited the former site of Oskar Schindler’s factory that now stood as a historical museum highlighting the events that took place in Krakow before, during and after the second world war, it was incredible. Krakow itself seemed small, but as it turns out there are an immense amount of things to do in and information to learn in and around the city. We spent Saturday on a day trip to Auschwitz and its multiple camps but we met multiple other tourists who had visited the salt mines outside of the city instead. Overall, it was an incredible experience and I would love to visit Krakow again sometime in the future, and I can only hope the other members of my program had a wonderful time where they visited as well.


Today was another day of early traveling as our program made our way to Jena, a smaller university town in the former GDR. We all somehow managed to pack our lives back up in our suitcases and leave Die Fabrik for the week. Every time I travel all my items seems to expand ten-fold and my suitcase seemed to grow to an almost unmanageable size. However, made it aboard our train in time and traveled two hours south of Berlin to Jena. Traveling through the German countryside reminded me of the time I’ve spent in Bavaria and the hours spent driving through valleys that had magnificent castles overlooking them from the hilltops.
We all received a warm welcome from Caroline (the director of the North American studies department at Jena) and a couple of her graduate students who took us from the train station to the Mensa where we grabbed lunch and later on met the rest of her graduate students we’d be spending time with while here. We made our way to the senate room, in which we were welcomes to Jena and had our first lecture of our visit by Dr. Thomas Kramer on “The German’s Image of Native Americans between Karl Marx and Karl May”. In his lecture we were introduced to the romanticized ideas of Native American in the United States that were rampant throughout East Germany in second half of the nineteenth century. These ideas of the romantic Native American and the role that media and popular culture play in constructing stereotypes of other nations were a little hard to digest. To me, it always seems like discussing Natives Americans is sometimes a taboo topic due to the atrocities taken against them in early United States history but there are still many people in Germany that participate in the gaudy representation of American Indians.
We then had a movie screening of Die Sohne der grossen Barin/The Sons of the Great Bear” a GDR made film that emulates the stereotypes of both Native Americans and their white counterparts in the Wild West. Throughout our time at Jena, we were already berated with a plethora of American stereotypes both within in the movie and without.  The movie showed Americans as drunks that only cared about money and were willing to kill to get what they wanted. Outside of the movie through our coffee breaks and other interactions with German students, we heard assumptions that all people from San Diego torture animals like they do at Seaworld or that we could cure our homesickness by visiting McDonalds.

That night we all had a group dinner at Daheme, a restaurant with local German and Jena food in which we mixed up our groups and again spent time mingling with Caroline’s masters students. I sometimes find myself having to limit how much I participate in conversations with people from other nations, especially around United States politics.  As a political science major, I can sometimes get caught up in the details of politics and the nuances of the American political system and can misconstrue the opinions given by people who focus more on of the big picture and buzzwords of American politics. I’ve realized that students I’ve talked to in Germany love to discuss 9/11 and the theories of blowback that emerged in the weeks following the attack and the changing international views of the American system. Although sometimes it is frustrating and I occasionally disagree with some opinions, it is refreshing to hear a different point of view and I suppose it adds into the construction of our American identity.

Monday, July 13, 2015

July 10
Today is the first day of our free long weekend after a week of preparation for yesterday's presentation.  Many of us chose to leave Berlin and explore more of other places in Europe. I was fortunately to have the chance to see Rome and Florence in Italy. The weather was extremely hot and much more tourists than in Berlin as well. We visited Colosseum, Imperial Forum, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain.
 Early in the morning, departure! 
First stop: Colosseum! It was impressive and amazing, and also many tourists as well. Colosseum is well preserved while we can also see many evidence of damages from those war years. 
Imperial Forum
Street artist imitation of Het meisje met de parel
Authentic Italian food in Eataly
Trevi Fountain under construction 
Famous ice cream store: Giolitti.
July 11
We visited Vatican City in the morning. Although I have heard so many things about this religious country, it was still amazing and exciting to explore it by myself. Once we got to St. Peter Square, I almost wanted to leave when I saw that many tourists waiting in the line trying to get into Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano. We decided to hire a didactic guide so that we can skip the line.We visited St. Peter Basilica(Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano), Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. In the afternoon, we went to Castel Sant'Angelo to have a great view of the whole city. It was hot and long stairs to climb up, but the view was definitely worth it. 

Something interesting is that we missed the train two times. We had these stereotypes of Italian people not always on time; however, our trains were precisely on time or departed even one minute early.
Pietà by Michelangelo in Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano
Me hugging the postbox in Vatican. 

Distance view of St. Peter basilica's dome. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

July 8 and 9 -- Daily Diary

Posted by: Karinne Sandstrom

July 8

'Twas the night before presentations and all through the hostel, groups were meeting one final time. But before the flurry of Power Points and practicing, the day proved to be a very eventful one. 

We had the wonderful opportunity to meet an artist, Catherine, and learn about her background as an immigrant to Berlin. She has lived in four different places, each having an influence on her art. While she studied art in Finland, Catherine did a lot of activist art, such as working with others to hang plastic bottles in a city center to make citizens aware of water waste. At times during her discussion with us, her raw vulnerability matched the experiences she had being a “foreigner” in a country. 

One thing I found interesting about the talk with her is that because of her experiences moving around, Catherine considered herself a European and not any particular nationality of a country. This is an interesting identity formation, one that I have never really considered. I think of myself as an American from California, but not really a Californian or North American for that matter… so it’s hard to draw parallels with someone who identifies herself with an entire continent. Although Catherine did say that the European Union does make moving around a lot easier, there were certain instances in which she felt discriminated against. Overall, she was a truly brave individual with an interesting background that helped provide the group with another perspective on identity formation.

Before the meeting with Catherine, some of the group members and I went to visit the Neuss museum on Museum Island. While it was intriguing to see ancient Egyptian and Roman artifacts (my favorite was the jewelry pieces and coffins), I find it extraordinarily odd that this place in Berlin has all of these historical and valuable artifacts. At what point do we as societies take ownership of the past and who has the right to present this past to others? We all felt after visiting that it is a very colonialistic mindset to have this museum on display, but at the same time feeling that the U.S. has taken similar ownership to things not exactly “owned” by the country. Despite our moral dilemmas with the way in which past meets the present, it was a cool museum and seeing extremely old artifacts dating back to 3000 B.C. is pretty mind boggling.

July 9

I have the lucky opportunity to blog about presentation day. While it was definitely frightening to walk into Humboldt’s Senate Room and see rows and rows of chairs in addition to a stage with a podium, I am thankful for this opportunity to have our presentations in such a historical place. 

Despite some technical difficulties, the presentations went off without a hitch. My group presented first and I thought all of us did a nice job showing the evolution of our projects and how we came to our conclusions at this moment in time. I felt myself relax as I began to unfold my own presentation. It is nice to share with a group of academics your own personal frustrations with arriving at knowledge because in more ways than not, every person on the study abroad ran into the same types of issues. What matters most from all these presentations is that we are reflecting and continuing to ask questions that dive further into the program themes as well as our own personal attachments here in Berlin. I enjoy how everyone has a truly unique approach to their research and am excited to hear how everyone’s projects go beyond our time in Germany.

As we head into a three-day weekend, I am looking forward to a trip to Poland and then heading to Jena with the group! I can’t believe how fast this trip has gone. 

Auf Wiedersehen for now!

Presentations at Humboldt Universitat, Senate Room, July 9

“Reenacting German and American Identities”
Summer 2015

Research Presentation Colloquia, Thursday, July 9, 2015
14:30-17:30 (2:30-5:30 p.m)
Senate Hall, Humboldt University

Student Presentations: a dialogic colloquia showcasing student research in progress

Description of Program:
This summer program, a collaboration between the University of Washington, Seattle (Honors Interdisciplinary and College of Education) and Humboldt and Jena Universitats (American Studies Departments) has a focus on identity politics and identify formation, individual, cultural, national, and what is involved in this production in Berlin, Germany and comparatively in Seattle, U.S.A. The program uses a comparative interdisciplinary model to learn about topics including:
·      Identity and Environment
·      Identity Migration and Education
·      Borders and Frontiers specifically: Refugee and migration movements in both Germany and U.S. and also East and West Germany identity complexities
·      Identity and the Arts/Historical Artifacts

Students will continue to work on their project write ups through August while back in Seattle, posting their final write ups to their blogs, located on the program blog.  You may find more information here:

Afternoon Presentation Schedule
·      Each student will present for approximately 7 minutes with a 5-minute group introduction before individual presentations.
·      Discussion will follow each presentation and time is allotted for discussion in between groups and at the end of the colloquia.


Student Presentations
(time for discussion after each presentation)

Memorialization and its effects on national and urban identities

Yu Hou--Nazi Germany architecture and changes since 1945

Natalie Hillerson--Pride and Sacrifice: War Memorialization and National Identity in the United States and Germany

Anna von Ravensberg—The Identification of Memorialization and Art

Jasmine Kim -- A Country Divided: The Effect of East and West Memorialization on German Identity

Immigrants and Society: Education, Economics, and Politics 

Lindsey Trimmer – EU and Immigration in Germany

Anna Gallagher –The Difference in Heads: Diversity in German Classrooms

Reem Sabha-- Identity Economics: College Major and Identity

Karinne Sandstrom –American identity in Foreign Context

Betty Gao -- Employment Situations for People with Migration Backgrounds in Germany

The Human Medium: Identity in News Media, Film, and Theater

Hannah Lewis -- Narratives and Impacts Surrounding Islam in German News Media  

Mira Naidoo -- The Eyes of Others: The Emergence of Immigrant Perspectives in German Cinema 

Kendra Ferrier -- Political Theater: Advocating for Equal Rights and Opportunities 

Roujia Wang-- -Self Expressions of Ethnic Minorities in Germany through Stage Performance.

Formation of Identity and Minority Identity through street art and social media 

Michaila Forte-- Street Art: the Relevancy of Identity 

Yi Shi--To what extend should Berlin, Kreuzberg develop while not losing its identity?"

Emerson Matson--The Internet Culture: Demographic Formation of Cultural Identity in Social Media

Thank you, wrap up. Drinks and snacks and more discussion.