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

Petite France, a historic district in Strasbourg and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grande Île. (Credit: getyourguide.com)

On the 28th August 2017, I crossed from Germany into France — from the little town of Kehl into the city of Strasbourg where I will remain for the upcoming academic year as part of the Erasmus exchange program with BCB. As I had never visited France, I was more than excited for my Erasmus Exchange, and curious about the similarities and differences I would find between these two nation-states at the heart of the European Union. But, despite the attention I afforded the view from the bus window, I’m still not sure exactly when I crossed the border. There were no bells or whistles, no fanfare, no berets or baguettes in sight. The landscape remained unchanged and my fellow passengers continued to doze, or stare at their mobiles, uninterrupted. It was only when we disembarked that I noticed how road-signs and the displays in shop windows were no longer in German, but French. Listening in on the conversations of those who buzzed around the terminal, I quickly recognised its distinctive melody, a smooth and slippery river of sound falling unintelligibly upon my dumb ears.

Almost a month later and I can’t help but think the true wonder isn’t how similar these neighbouring countries seemed to me initially, but how language and culture are preserved despite their geographic proximity, and how deeply the notion of the border runs within the human psyche.

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Charlottesville Anti-Racist Counter-Protesters Face White Supremacists from the “Unite the Right” Rally

I had thought that the scariest sight that weekend would be the images of the “Unite the Right” rally. Men can be scary enough on their own. Men with violent ideologies are simply terrifying. The white supremacist rally was toxically masculine, looked utterly fascist and sounded like a historical period that should never be repeated. The Nazi and KKK symbology, the light from their absurd Tiki torches, the Confederate flags, the rampant anti-Semitism, the collared shirts that made them look almost respectable, the chants of “Blood and Soil”, the Swastikas. Even following it online was too much. The white supremacist rally on August 12 felt too evil to be real, yet it wasn’t quite surprising or something out of the blue.

But then that car ran into the protesters, and it was worse than we could ever imagine. 19 people were injured and one was killed in a deliberate attack by a fascist extremist.

“Just stay safe please,” I irrationally felt compelled to text someone I care about simply because 1) he happened to be – although a hundred miles away from the action — in the same state at the time of the chaos, and 2) because he had gotten his life threatened by white racists in Virginia years ago in Obama’s supposedly post-racial America.

Post-Trump, though, it seems that even white people can be victims of white supremacy. Heather Heyer, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, died that day while fighting fascists. The last post on her Facebook wall has turned her into a martyr for anti-fascism: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”     

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The participants of the 2nd LESC in Freiburg (Credits: Alexandra Sachariew, University College Freiburg)

Hello all you BCBers,

In case someone has been wondering about my absence from BCB in the past semester, let me reassure you of my return in Fall 2017: I am currently not in Berlin but studying abroad at AUC in Amsterdam. The first question one might ask is probably: Why would I study abroad in Amsterdam? Isn’t it just like Berlin, only smaller and with canals and actual bike lanes? I asked myself the same things. But if that’s all you know about Amsterdam, you should just come here and fall in love with this beautiful city yourself. Very few people are able to escape its magic spell.

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Calvin echoes my sentiments on school. (Credit: Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes comics)

“So what’s the plan after this?”

Whoever you are and wherever you are: If you’re a breathing, barely surviving student, you’ve been asked this question before. I don’t know about you, but every time I start to think about what I want to do post graduation, my heart begins to palpitate at an unusually fast pace, and somehow I end up under my covers, scrolling through Instagram — even though I swear I don’t remember any of that

It’s tough. Life as a student is confusing and disorienting: You spend half your time wondering what the heck you did with that pencil you had in your hand a minute ago, and the other half worrying about who is going to hire you and pay you real money for your services.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to study such a variety of courses, but I often wonder what’s next. Will I be a writer? Maybe I’ll be a teacher. Prime Minister of Djibouti? Art Historian?

I DON’T KNOW! I find myself under my covers and scrolling through Instagram again.

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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.

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Muhammad Osman Ali Chaudry’s Wisdom Salad is available locally in Pakistan as well as the Bard College Berlin library.

Chaudhry’s Wisdom Salad

Osman Chaudhry, age 18, is Bard College Berlin’s youngest published author. His first book “Wisdom Salad” (named after his band) is currently available in Pakistan, as well as in the Bard College Berlin library.

In the form of poems and brief commentaries, this book is a thematic mixture of religion, death, love, hate… you name it!

“I was young and idealistic,” Osman says, “so I decided to solve the problems of the world,” he smiles to himself. I smile too, why stop being young and idealistic?

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Prof. Dr. Ewa Atanassow

Prof. Dr. Ewa Atanassow

The blog team continues the series of discussions with members of the Bard College Berlin faculty. Our guest today is Prof. Dr. Ewa Atanassow, who will be teaching a course on “Equality“ in the Spring Semester 2014.

Prof. Dr. Ewa Atanassow has received a PhD from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, an MA in psychology from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Government at Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests focus on questions of nationhood and democratic citizenship, and more broadly on the intersection of ethics and psychology in the liberal tradition of political thought, with emphasis on Tocqueville. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Journal of Democracy, Kronos, Nations and Nationalism, Perspectives on Political Science, Przeglad Polityczny. She is the co-editor of Tocqueville and the Frontiers of Democracy, published by Cambridge University Press in 2013.

Previous faculty podcasts: Michael Weinman

Lucas Anthony Cone Møller

Lucas Anthony Cone Møller

The community of Bard College Berlin is very diverse. Students come from six continents and their life paths have taken the most peculiar trajectories. Whereas some had never even left their home country prior to coming to Berlin, others have lived in different places and traveled all over the world. In the belief that everyone here has an interesting story to share, the blog team decided to interview the students and find out more about their background, their interests and their decision to come to Berlin. In this first interview, you can “meet” Lucas Anthony Cone Møller, a first year BA student from Denmark who plays an incredible number of music instruments and is interested in politics and education.

Lucas, have you always lived in Denmark?


So you don’t really have a multicultural background?

Well, my mom is from the States. She was born in Brooklyn, so I spent a lot of time in New York, passing back and forth between cultures.

Are you bilingual?

Yes. I guess I grew up with both cultures under my skin. I learnt children songs in both English and Danish – it is a useful insight into how to live your life within different cultural backgrounds.

Would you still consider Bard College Berlin your first multicultural environment?

Definitely. Denmark is very… monocultural. Everyone is kind of the same; we all kind of think the same – even though we like to say we think really differently.

What do you mean by “monocultural”?

We think alike, in the sense that we all agree on fundamental values regarding our welfare system, a green profile etc. So it is interesting to be in a place like Bard College Berlin where people come from different cultures and, of course, have different views on basic things that I would take for granted. From a Danish perspective, with our cultural history and the way we look at things, the international environment here differs from what I’m used to. In that sense it is my first experience.

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