Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog
Archive
Tag "ECLA"
on the Bard College Berlin Student Blog

Una with the partisan women in Zagreb, Croatia (Credit: Personal Archives)

Una Blagojevic, a Serbian 2013 BA graduate, has been around the world. Currently residing in Budapest, Hungary and beginning her master’s thesis at the Central European University, Una looks back on her time at Bard Berlin, then ECLA*, with great fondness. I sat down for a late-night Skype chat with Una to discuss the transformative and orienting powers of core courses, her shift from Berlin to London to Uganda to France to Budapest, and the consistent and enduring eccentricities of Pankow wildlife.**

Tell me about your time in Uganda.

My Uganda trip was quite amazing! After I left ECLA, I was planning to stay in Berlin for my  master’s, but the program I applied for was all in German, and my knowledge of German was not high enough. I also couldn’t find any scholarships to do my master’s in England, so I was quite unhappy and disappointed. And then, just totally coincidentally, a friend of mine saw that there was a safari company in Uganda looking for interns, which was a totally new thing for me because it had nothing to do with my undergraduate education at all.  

Right. After four years of doing school, this is something completely different.

Yes, totally different! Sometimes when I tell people that I spent a year working for a safari company they think that this was some kind of place where people go to shoot animals, and I would never do something like that. I didn’t do that and this was not that kind of company. They had some lodges all around Uganda, large lodges in the savannas of a national park called Kidepo Valley. I spent approximately four months there. It was so beautiful. I was always in nature, helping out. My tasks also included working in an office and helping with boring administrative stuff, documents, calculating budgets in Excel. I always wanted to escape from this sort of work after finishing my Gymnasium. There, in Serbia, you usually go and work or study in a department, like natural sciences, math or physics After I finished Gymnasium  I said ‘Never again!’ and then I turned to humanities. It was nice to do it again in Uganda, though.  

What was the community in Uganda like?

Even though the administrative work was boring, I was very close with the staff, helping out as much as I could and also hanging around with the guests. It was a very small, intimate approach to work, so we would all eat at a big table and they would serve us and we would all sit and talk about which animals we’ve seen and things like that. Sometimes I felt like it was strange because it was a place where very rich people would come and spend time in a ‘wonderful African, Ugandan experience’. Sometimes I was kind of not sure what to think of myself being there. But I had this great time where every day was filled with new and crazy experiences. I lived in a small hut, too, made out of wood and leaves and such: They tried to make it as natural as possible to give an ‘explorer’s experience’. I lived in one of these, and in the morning I heard animals making such crazy sounds, and, even though the hut was off the ground for security reasons, we would get woken up by screaming animals. It was always wild boars.

Read more

Andrei Poama

Andrei Poama

I’m meeting Andrei Poama, a Romanian PhD candidate in Political Theory at Sciences Po in Paris, where he is working on theories of punishment. This fall he co-taught a class on Foundations of Moral and Political Thought, which I attended. He is also an alumnus of Bard College Berlin’s (previously ECLA’s) International Summer University of 2004, and studied in Bucharest, at Oxford, and Yale. We talked about his experience of the ISU, his current research, and models of education.

D: You joined the ISU in 2004, right?

A: Yes, I was there just for the summer school in 2004, when I was 20 years old. I arrived one week earlier, which made it almost two months.

How did you find out about the school?

I remember I was watching about it on television. The director of the program at the time was Theodor Paleologu. He talked about it in very nice terms. During the communist times there was this ‘Romanian Heidegger’—Constantin Noica—who founded the school Școala de la Păltiniș: kind of elitist, not so phenomenological as Heidegger, but close – in places as unintelligible as Heidegger. Noica’s idea was to create a school where the professors would learn more than the students, and Theodor presented the ISU as being sort of the same as Noica’s project. He really advertised it, and so I went on the internet, looked it up, and eventually applied.

Read more
Alumnus Florian Hoffmann giving a talk at Bard College Berlin (photo by the author)

Alumnus Florian Hoffmann giving a talk at Bard College Berlin (photo by the author)

On December 4, in the frame of the core course “Bildung: Education and Formation” led by Prof. Dr. Matthias Hurst, Bard College Berlin welcomed alumnus Florian Hoffmann, the Founder and President of the DO School, for a talk on “21st Century Skills and the Future of Higher Education.” Florian is one of the old “veterans”– an Academy Year (and later Project Year) student in one of the first generations of graduates. He is one of the people who witnessed how the college was taking shape, and still remembers the days when students, with great enthusiasm and joy, helped set up the classrooms by moving furniture, patiently eating tons of pizza before the Cafeteria was established – whilst enjoying a number of enlightening and educational early guest lectures that took place on campus. Florian says he would describe our college as “a small liberal arts education institution in the beautiful city of Berlin, offering courses in humanities.” As a social entrepreneur and innovator in the field of higher education, he is greatly engaged in helping liberal arts students actualize their greatest potential that the liberal arts education helps increase.

On our campus, Florian Hoffmann talked about the dynamics of the modern Western university system and how the DO School – a globally engaged social enterprise that educates, trains and mentors talented post-graduate individuals to transform their ideas into action – fits within the transitional period between college and professional occupation/post-graduate studies. He is a man of action, with a strong emphasis on doing, regularly engaging himself by contributing to the public debate on higher education and innovation. He has taught the DO School method at a variety of universities including Columbia University, Oxford University, and the Hasso Plattner Institute at Potsdam University.

Read more

“So come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab. I see you shiver with antici-(SAY IT!)-pation.”

Jim Sharman’s Rocky Horror Picture Show

Jim Sharman’s Rocky Horror Picture Show

There is no way to describe a true Rocky Horror Picture Show or to ever forget it. This Halloween, ECLA of Bard’s film professor Matthias Hurst hosted a “Spooktacular” movie night for the students, consisting of Tim Burton’s Vincent, Frank Oz’s musical Little Shop of Horrors (a movie based upon the play based upon a movie) and Jim Sharman’s Rocky Horror Picture Show. Around 19:30, students began to slowly mill into the lecture hall where bowls of marshmallows, gummies and glasses of juice awaited them. All seemed like a normal Halloween evening: the juice was called “blood”, the gummies were in the shapes of skeletons and empty marshmallow bowls revealed ghost designs. Yet something was slightly off…

Read more
“Free writing” at Bard College Berlin’s L&T

“Free writing” at Bard College Berlin’s L&T

Since 1981, Bard College in Annandale on Hudson, NY, has had a unique summer course, mandatory for all incoming students, called “Language and Thinking.” After joining the Bard network in 2011, Bard College Berlin came to adopt the Bard concept in 2013 and so this year’s freshmen were the first ones to experience the program as put into practice by professors James HarkerMatthias Hurst and Ulrike Wagner. For three weeks, students had to read and think, but mostly write a lot. Most of the writing tasks demanded and focused heavily on creativity. Thus the first-years came to realize that the aim of  L&T––to create a smooth transition to college education––is pursued not by mimicking the exact format of university-level courses, but rather through a somewhat different and more openly-creative class structure.

The Bard Berlin program was very similar to the program at Bard College, says James Harker, the coordinator of the Bard College Berlin L&T program. We used many of the same readings, techniques, and assignments. One difference, though, is that L&T at Bard Berlin was taught by regular members of the faculty. At Bard, mostly guests from elsewhere come to campus to teach L&T. This might produce some differences. The Bard L&T faculty bring in a variety of perspectives and styles. The Bard Berlin L&T faculty, however, might tend to shape the L&T experience so that it fits with the first year experience a bit more.

The purpose of the program is to help students read and write better, and thus to prepare them for the academic work to come. Although the writing that the L&T participants did was quite different from the one that students would be required to do at Bard College Berlin or any other college, the methods used to encourage students in their writing were constructed so that they would enhance their writing skills overall, regardless of the writing format.

Read more
Students Tom McQueeny, Yishu Mao, Marissa Shadburn, Sharon Jiang, and Nora Krasniqi arrive in Berlin from New York.

Bard students arrive in Berlin from New York.

All through school my dad would reassure me that I was a “college person,” meaning that while maybe high school wasn’t the best, I would find whatever I was looking for in college. When I walked onto the ECLA of Bard campus, nearly empty—since I was a day early—I finally understood that he was right. I was going to be a “college person”; the freedom and independence that come with the self reliance and responsibility, taking the classes that matter to me, living in a dorm. ECLA of Bard then became the embodiment of all these things, from the old embassy dorm buildings to the walk back from the cafeteria. If I close my eyes and think of the word “college,” the ECLA of Bard campus, students, and teachers will come to mind. And then I remember that I’ve never actually attended the college I’m really attending.

I visited Bard College once; it was the spring break of my senior year, so my mom, my sister, and I took a trip from the West to the East Coast of the U.S. and ended up at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Read more
Art, Wine and Philosophy

The night was marked by friendly mingling, laughter and good wine – with an even better background of exhibited photographs by ECLA BA4 students.

Wednesday September 25th was an important day for ECLA of Bard. The school hosted a small reception to inaugurate “the Factory,” a place where, within the walls of one building, all students have the possibility to express themselves via various art practices. Formerly a can factory, the building complex has an interesting history, as it also used to be a tire factory at some point, then hosted an advertising company and the editorial office of a Berlin newspaper, produced by homeless people, and later even became a shelter for the homeless. ECLA acquired the premises three years ago and after several months of intensive renovation, coordinated by Lars Köhler, ECLA of Bard’s Site Manager, the Factory is finally completely ready to host visual art and theatre classes, guest talks and student-organized exhibitions, installations, or performances.

“The idea, in keeping with the fluid interaction between performance and visual arts that we’ve always had at ECLA, was to try to create a studio building where

Read more

“My memories are like a shuffled deck of cards,

 each one coming up at random.” – Brian James

 

This is my first September in Pankow: when I started studying at ECLA three years ago, the classes began in October. This September is awfully similar to an October––perhaps to the October two years ago––the one before my exchange year in Brazil. This ECLA is awfully similar to the ECLA of two years ago. The replica is so well done, that should I not know better, I would think myself crazy. But the keen eye cannot be so easily fooled. No replica is without a flaw and one can notice, if one is to pay attention, that the swing usually found in front of dorm W15 is on the other side of the lawn, that the goals on the football court have green nets on them, and that the bike shed is actually being used to store bikes. Then again, some things are so masterfully reproduced––the sound of birds at three in the morning that mixes with the breaks of the M1 tram at Kuckhoffstrasse (“bitte aussteigen”), or the swoosh of the wind that sounds like the beginning of a rain shower. This swoosh brings the image of Rio summer showers back to my mind so vividly that I can smell the humidity in the heavy hot air. 

Read more