Fourth week in Chapel Hill

The last week in Chapel Hill has dawned, and we are amazed at how quickly the time has flown by. It seems as if we had just arrived yesterday. Reflecting on the past days, we realize how rich in great experiences our time here was. Yet, the end has not yet come, and we are fully enjoying the last days in the college town – at our schools, on campus, and with our buddies and host families.

On Monday, most of the group‘s participants took part in a discussion with Priscilla Layne, a professor of German at the University of North Carolina and an author. Professor Layne has recently collaborated with German author and illustrator Birgit Weyhe to publish a graphic novel based on Layne‘s life story. The book hadn’t been published in English yet but we had all gotten to read „ Rude Girl“ beforehand nonetheless. Albeit it wasn’t mandatory, most of us had read the book front-to-back as we enjoyed it and got invested in the story.

The event started with a presentation that Layne gave us to summarize her lifestory, including some personal  photographs, thereby adding on to the book‘s content. The book „Rude Girl“ centers around the theme of identity and the interests, preferences and influences that shape it. Afterwards, we – the German TTT students – and some professors from the University of Carolina asked her questions, all of which she answered kindly and openly. Some of the questions centered on her unique perspective of growing up as a Black American who developed an

intellectual curiosity for German(y). Other questions covered the topics of having one’s own life experiences published and the collaboration between two intellectuals. She also talked about the punk scene, what it means to grow up middle-class and how isolating it felt to be a nerdy Black girl who didn’t fulfill people’s expectations.

It was an honor to meet Priscilla Layne and to get to hear her talk about her life after reading her impressive biography. We also all enjoyed the snacks and refreshments provided for us, which were especially appreciated since some of us came straight from their U.S. school observation.

Another highlight of the week was the „Global Connections“ event at Smith Middle School, which had been a topic of conversation among teachers and students for weeks. This celebration, jointly organized by students, teachers, and families, aimed to honor and celebrate the diverse cultural backgrounds within the school community. With great commitment, classrooms were designed to reflect the participants‘ countries of origin, with lovingly crafted information posters and traditional elements that invited discovery and wonder. Culinary samples were also provided. For instance, we had the opportunity to taste Isidudu in „South Africa“. It is a traditional maize porridge called Pap, served either with stewed vegetables or beef. It was delicious and introduced us to a world of new spices. Among other things, a teacher offered homemade sweets for sale. There we had the best brownie of our lives!

In the auditorium, impressive dance performances took place at regular intervals. For example, students enchanted the audience with a Bollywood dance, while other groups danced to K-Pop. A Japanese drumming group created a captivating atmosphere with their performance that made the walls tremble.

„Global Connections“ was an undisputed success, filling the school’s hallways with a throng of lively and curious people. You could literally grasp the open-minded and committed mood, showing how eager everyone was to learn more about other countries and cultures. It was a moving experience to see the school offer a platform for all cultures, thereby promoting acceptance, inclusion, and a sense of community. We are convinced that such events should also be held regularly in German schools. Mutual exchange and learning from each other offer invaluable values that form the foundation of any open and inclusive society. And if we don’t lay this foundation in school, where else?

Wednesday was our last day at our school placements. We left our mentor teachers and students with mixed feelings – proud of ourselves to have yet accomplished another step towards becoming teachers, relieved to get some more free time in between semesters, but also sad to say goodbye to new companions on our journey.

Before saying goodbye to our American TTT-fellows, we met for a BBQ-night at Peabody Hall. Heavy rain was supposed to come our way, but we didn’t let it stop us and decided to meet inside for a nice Carolinian BBQ-Buffet. Our mentor Taylor ordered all the typical dishes, such as coleslaw, hushpuppies, mac-n-cheese, cream spinach, pulled pork, beef briskets, burger buns and lots of BBQ-sauce. The highlight was the desert, the infamous banana pudding.

After 4 weeks of many appointments, long school days and intense seminar sessions, it was very nice to meet everyone and to have time to talk, eat and relax together. The Carolinian BBQ is quite different from ours at home, so we already discussed introducing our guests to a “German BBQ” in Hamburg.

The final goodbyes arrived way to soon, so we’re all very much looking forward to our second Study Camp in Hamburg, when it will be our time to host our lovely fellows and take care of them in the same welcoming way as they did. We are also excited to finally meet our fellows from Ghana and of course to reunite with the other half of the “Hamburgers”.

Thank you, Chapel Hill, for having us! We had a blast and some of us might come back in the future. 🙂

Rosa, Naemi & Charlotte

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