Most of these pictures were taken about a week ago when my friend, Tanlyn, came to visit me. She's doing a teaching Fulbright in a Hauptschule in Neukölln Berlin, which is more or less like an intercity school. It's not easy, but she's enjoying it. It's a wonder that we never met before because our lives overlap so much: we grew up in the same city and went to the same high school, and funniest of all, her mom was my 6th grade teacher (Mrs. Roelofs!). We crossed paths for the first time last September at the Cologne train station.
When she visited the sun decided to defy the otherwise bleak November clouds and it was even so warm in the afternoon that we didn't need to wear jackets! Wahooo! So naturally we spent most of the weekend outside and we even met up with some of my students. In the pictures below some combination of Tanlyn, the students, and me are either prancing around the lively Neustadt district, ice skating, or are in the Heide-- the city's colossal protected forest.
Another friend, Michelle, also visited me that weekend. (Two visits in one weekend! Sweet!) She's fulbrighting in Mittweida, a small town sort of near Chemnitz. Hearing about her school experiences was pretty disheartening. At her school, the teachers miserably go about their jobs each day and have tolerance for, well, intolerance. Mittweida is (surprisingly) home to many Iraqis and the teachers do nothing to abate the students' cruelty and prejudices. If anything, they indirectly encourage it. Super fucked-up stuff.
On a lighter note, in the pictures below we're at the Panama in the Neustadt, a playground that has horses, sheep, goats, bunnies, and guinea pigs.