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BCB student Clara Holder in discussion with other participants (Credit: Tamar Maare)

BCB student Clara Holder in discussion with other participants
(credit: Tamar Maare)

Over the past couple of months, students of Bard College Berlin have been instrumental in setting up an ongoing program for the mutual cultural exchange and language development process between refugees, students, teachers and anyone from the neighborhood or Berlin community at large who might want to drop by. This program, Campus Conversations, is currently run by Bono Siebelink (BA2 HAST), Clara Holder (BA1 HAST) and Kerstin Weil (BA1 EPST) on the Bard College Berlin campus and is overseen by our Admissions and Recruitment Officer and Civic Engagement Coordinator, Xenia Muth. The current focus of the program is on German language learning, but it has the potential for much more than just that. As their page on the BCB website outlines, “we plan on diversifying the types of lessons offered as more people become involved.”  

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Passing through, passing through.

Sometimes happy, sometimes blue,

glad that I ran into you.

Tell the people that you saw me

passing through.

–– D. Blakeslee, 1948.

 

One year ago I was finishing a blog article about the 2015 graduation. I had just come back from my time abroad and was glad about the chance to reflect a bit on travelling, on departures, on community and hospitality. Constant leaving and returning is built into the core of the BCB community. If, as a student, you spend your third year abroad, you will see the students of every other generation for only one year, and each year new people find their way to the college from all walks of life and some leave to follow different roads. It is in that sense a very dynamic community and I was wondering then, in my article, whether hospitality could perhaps be the name of the principle that connects us here, in this place where everyone is host and guest at the same time.

Recently I found a song which expresses some of those thoughts and feelings much better than I did then and then I can do now. Having just graduated, I would like to share it with you here by way of farewell.

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choir

Alexandria Sisson (BA 2019), founder of the Slam Poetry Club. Credit: Bard College Berlin

Every Sunday evening at 8pm, when a hush has stolen itself over most of the BCB campus as students scramble to prepare for the week ahead, a motley crew of outspoken and observant personalities congregates in the W16 common room for an hour (or more) of poetry. If, on such a Sunday, you were to stand outside the walls between which the Slam Poetry Club takes place, you would hear more than the familiar scratch of pens against paper or the voices of tender and seasoned poets bravely sharing their naked words: you would hear unexpected laughter, shed and swallowed tears, hesitation and uncertainty, immediate acceptance, reciprocated kindness, and power reclaimed. If you were to listen extra closely, you might recognise amidst all these sounds that of the borders between people crumbling — and, if you were to want to walk in, you would be more than welcome to join.

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Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something. – Frank Zappa 

… and so sculpted the music beautiful shapes and forms in the air that night, with sublime vocals that gave them voices and beautiful smiles that inspired life in this conjoined sculptural orchestra of musical notes on campus. We often say pictures mean more than words, and as a rather faithful believer in this (cliché) saying, I leave you with the thoughts of musical “air sculptures” and a gallery to feast your eyes with. Enjoy!

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Musical cafe in W16, hosted by Alzbeta and Jimena: February 28, from 8:30 pm

Musical cafe in W16, hosted by Alzbeta and Jimena: February 28, from 8:30 pm

Students at Bard College Berlin tend to entertain themselves with a variety of activities over the weekend: football, mini dorm get-togethers, (over)sleeping, ukulele and guitar sounds (which often travel smoothly through the whole dorm) etc. The diversity of these ventures, as well as the imaginative work put into them, varies as weeks pass by. Nevertheless, once every few weeks, usually when you least expect it, something a little more out of the ordinary happens. One of those college life things you know you will treasure; an unforgettable and ridiculously funny experience, with friends that become your family – even if just for a while.

An experience such as: The Musical Café.

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I wish I Had My Shorts On

SPOK Sauna

There are many practical benefits that come along with nudism. For example, a nudist never has to worry about staining one’s clothes, a nudist never has to bother holding out his hand to see if it has started to rain, aesthetically unpleasing tan lines are never a problem, and for a nudist the toughest question in any person’s life (“what to wear?”) is seldom asked.

SPOK is the area health and fitness centre whose facilities are regularly used by ECLA students. After working out, many students leave their sweaty clothes in their lockers and enter the SPOK sauna to restore their good health through additional sweating and the purging of toxins.

A visit to the SPOK sauna renders many health dividends, but it is also a place where extreme discrimination takes place. A SPOK sauna is where even the tiniest article of modesty-ensuring clothing is severely frowned upon. “Those who don’t accept the buff aren’t tough enough,” is the tacit and often explicit rule of a SPOK sauna.

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Dr. Andrea Despot

Dr. Andrea Despot

When the opening meeting of the ECLA Politics Club was announced, it did not take long before someone came up to me and suspiciously inquired whether the Politics Club was a cheesy debate club. I found this pretty funny and guaranteed the person in question that this was not the case. “Good,” she said, “then I’ll be there.”

Fair enough I thought, for who would possibly want to join a club devoted to banal platitudes and pretentious rhetoric? There is an annoying superabundance of that stuff anyway. To be perfectly honest, I also think that Politics Club is a rather poor label. The almost snotty implications of the word club are enough to lead anyone slightly astray.

What, then, is the ECLA Politics Club all about? Well, the real question is not what the politics club is, but what one makes of it. The Politics Club is very much in its genesis.

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Personal Space

Personal Space

Robert Frost advises that “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.” This concise statement prompts one to think about boundaries and personal space. For me, the notion of the “personal bubble” defines and emphasizes the borders or the ends that give one his/her shape and define him/her as a separate entity. One’s character and one’s individuality resides inside of these boundaries.

Unfortunately there are many circumstances in which one is compelled to deflate one’s bubble and allow a foul breath or an undesired hand to penetrate it. Crowded buses, concerts, stores that offer large discounts and student dorm buildings are good examples of places where one’s personal bubble is always at risk of being punctured.

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