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Baynetna (Credit: Eva Johnaon)

When I was asked to write a piece on Baynetna, the only existing Arabic library in Berlin, I was immediately interested. I have always found deep reserves of empathy and solace within the texts of others. I believe literature is one of the most radical mediums of communication that humans possess, as it allows conditions of existence to be relayed viscerally through language, therefore facilitating greater understanding of experiences that lay beyond the individual. All literature is, in this sense, an act of translation. Often, when I read a work of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction, it is hard to pinpoint the specific site that triggers my fascination. It is as if the non-normative use of language transforms everyday reaction to stimuli into something more spiritual, emotional, and accessible. As a child, my favorite books were stories of adventure and survival. These narratives often occurred in contexts spatially and temporally disparate from my own, and yet somehow managed to be relevant to my own experience. From this vantage point — but, as an American, knowing relatively little about Berlin and its sociopolitical structure — I spoke with Muhanad Qaiconie, the founder of Baynetna, about his ongoing project.

Muhanad explained that Baynetna is, above all, a place for exchange — of languages, culture, ideas, resources, and support. The idea for the library came to him when he was in a camp in a village outside of Munich, waiting for his residency papers, with nothing to do but scroll through Facebook and wait. He found an article by a German journalist that translated to Arabic. Having enjoyed the article, he friended the journalist on Facebook, and they started to talk.

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a womaN with a BouQuet of wild floweRs foR a head oN my left thiGh”. (Credit: Alona Cohen)

a womaN with a BouQuet of wild floweRs foR a head oN my left thiGh. (Credit: Alona Cohen)

I thiNk of love More than aNythiNg else.

My skin always Bruised very Easily

It is the oNly Physical RepReseNtatioN of How My MiNd experieNces life.

My soul TurNs Black aNd Blue as easily as My skin Does.

From the smallest Bumps, EvEn a Good thinG

If pRessed too lonG, too strongly.

The iNk emBedded iN my skin is the other side of life, the hiGh.

WheN I Got my last tattoo, a womaN with a BouQuet of wild floweRs foR a head oN my left thiGh, the skiN Bruised.

She was Blue, theN Yellow.

It took heR as lonG to Get heR coloR RiGht

As it does me to Get used to life EveRy time.      

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Die Glühbirne: the lightbulb, literally the “glowpear”

Die Glühbirne: the lightbulb, literally the “glowpear”

After about four months of classes and 5 months in Germany,  I find myself in German A2, well aware that German — with its random articles and various cases, not to mention the seemingly impossible sound that lingers in the gap between ‘sh’ and ‘ch’ — is a difficult language to learn. But there is good to be found in the language learning process. German relies heavily on compound words, which anyone can invent and use whenever they so desire, while still remaining grammatically correct. This allows for amazing specificity and has resulted in many odd, whimsical sounding names for various objects and ideas.

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Growing Things (Credit: Ronni Shalev)

► Monday: Transit Havanna – New Heroes of the Cuban Revolution

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This documentary depicts Mariela Castro’s, the Cuban president’s daughter, view on the completion of the 1959 revolution. The documentary focuses on Cuba’s assistance of  the medical process transgender people undergo and explores such themes as emancipation and self-realization. The filmmakers document the lives of 3 transgender figures to better understand and convey the reality of being transgender in Cuba, a country with many paradoxes from seeming open-mindedness to religious repression and sexism.

  • When: 20:00
  • Where:  Babylon Cinema – Rosa Luxemburg str. 30, 10178
  • Admission: 9€ for 2 tickets
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“The Wait” is a short fiction piece by guest contributor Elena Gagovska, a BA2 student in the HAST program at BCB

Christina felt bored waiting in line at the insurance office and tapped her little finger against her chin obsessively. She was there to renew the health insurance for her  two-year-old. It wasn’t a complicated procedure, really, but, just as I would be, Christina was scandalized at the fact that she had to physically go to a place to get something that she thought could easily be computerized. Actually, Christina had a lot of thoughts about a lot of things. But she just worked as tech support for a small law firm and lacked a column or blog-type platform  on which to express and publish her thoughts. When the urge to tell the world how she perceived it started overwhelming her a few years ago, Christina opened a Twitter account under the alias “ITBoredom”. It was more of a way to express her dissatisfaction with her job and current affairs than an intellectual megaphone.

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The Clouds in chorus (Credit: Tamar Maare)

The Clouds in chorus (Credit: Tamar Maare)

Maria Khan is a BA 2015 alumna originally from Pakistan.

Bard College Berlin has a special place in my heart. I love it. I adore it. I am shamelessly and unabashedly its biggest fan. I have loved all its transformations and will continue to do so. I spent my formative years at BCB, and my experience was enriched by the people I met, the friendships I formed, and the lessons I learned there.

Currently, I’m enrolled in a PhD program at Cambridge University, specializing in arts education. My PhD examines the use of drama for the purposes of cultural integration. I plan to work with Turkish immigrants in Germany and use Goethe’s Faust to instigate a conversation about interfaith dialogue, Western versus Islamic values, and how Muslim immigrants perceive themselves in a host community.

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Susan Gillespie speaks at the alumni gathering of December 11th 2016 (Credit: Tamar Maare)

Susan Gillespie speaks at the alumni gathering of December 11th, 2016 (Credit: Tamar Maare)

My past experience with the college reunions of friends and relatives included marching bands, brightly-colored seersucker, and the revival of retro kegger culture. The Bard College Berlin alumni event, which took place this past December 11th of 2016, was tame in comparison, infused with the muted but eccentric quality of BCB itself. Student art from the Open Studios event still decorated the walls of the Factory. Former students greeted each other with inside jokes and embraces; professors and faculty also filled the small room. A pile of black, mid-length coats were stacked in the waiting room in classic BCB fashion (some things, like style choices, apparently don’t change after graduation).

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