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on the Bard College Berlin Student Blog

Students in the Summer Language German Intensive Program visit the Hamburger Bahnhof. (Credit: Irina Stelea)

The BCB Summer Language German Intensive Program came to a close earlier this month. From the 10th June to the 10th July, a handful of students from various universities immersed themselves in the German language and took part in cultural events across Berlin. This podcast includes snippets of conversations with some of the participants on their experiences at BCB and in Berlin.

Featured songs, in order of appearance:

“Komm Doch” by Die Caufner Schwestern (1978)

“Sonnenallee” by Rio Reiser (1990)

Essay by Mark Twain, source here.

 

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portrait of pankow

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It is finally weekend time. Tired of city life and daily errands, the civilized and sophisticated you yearns to break free from the chains of the metropolitan lifestyle and “go back to the roots”.
Luckily for you, we have discovered the epitome of country life in the big city – with animals to pet, huts to admire, and cooking on an open fire. Welcome to the children’s farm (Kinderbauernhof) Pinke-Panke in Pankow! The farm is just slightly past the beautiful Bürgerpark, through which you should stroll too, for a remedying-via-laughter view of the lovely playful goats that entertain passers-by on a daily basis.

Pinke-Panke has existed in Pankow since May 1991. It is now home to three timber-framed buildings with animals, a large playhouse with kitchen, and a game room. All buildings are traditionally built as wooden structures, with a framework from clay or mud. Ecological principles represent the forefront of this farm. As a place of adventure and play, meetings and joint projects, Pinke-Panke is open to all interested children, adolescents, and adults alike. The founders of the farm believe that the care for animals and the engaged observation of nature let the children see the interrelationships between natural cycles – and consequentially plant the seeds for a (an even) more nurturing character in them.

If you wish to know more about Kinderbauernhof Pinke-Panke, visit here.

Below you can see some glimpses of the atmosphere captured at Pinke-Panke on a Saturday afternoon:

Click here to see the photo gallery!

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy (Photo by Adam Mandel-Senft)

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy (Photo by Adam Mandel-Senft)

A description of students’ exploration of Pankow’s abandoned Iraqi Embassy.

In the haunted lies the deepest vacuum of the mind, in the ghosts are the people we’ve known, in blank space is everything imaginable.

“Did you hear that?”

“It was just a car.”

“Do you think they saw us?”

“The lights are going in the other direction, they already passed by, just hop over.”

Berlin is a city that is known for vibrating with life at any time of the day or night. But as the city is growing, many places have been left behind to disintegrate on their own. Even these places, the abandoned buildings of Berlin, have their own sort of life as people sit on their roofs for drinks with friends or explore the dark with graffiti walls and rickety staircases. Unlike further into the city, the abandoned buildings in Pankow see very few visitors and still hold their frightening emptiness that makes exploring them so fun.

Our adventure into the abandoned Iraqi Embassy started in the middle of the night:

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Stories from Pankow

 

Blog reporter Lucas Møller set out to explore the neighbourhood around the campus. Pankow has many hidden gems, among them a record store owner who shares his love for vinyl, a teacher who keeps a pet donkey, and a children’s bookshop which offers regular reading sessions.
Translation in the donkey segment provided by Philip Euteneuer (BA 2017, Germany)

Photo gallery:

 

Löwenkämpfer statue. Photo by Heidi Kontkanen

Löwenkämpfer statue (photo by Heidi Kontkanen)

Our series of Berlin-revelatory interviews with ECLA of Bard faculty and staff continues. This time our guide through Berlin is Prof. Matthias Hurst, who has been a member of the faculty at ECLA of Bard since 2003, teaching various courses in film, but also literature and philosophy. We took the chance to find out more about Matthias Hurst’s life in Berlin, his insights and suggestions on how to enlarge our experience of the city and, last but not least, his ideas on the various facets of the ‘film capital.’

1) Where are you originally from and how long have you been living in Berlin?

I was born in Heidelberg (in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg) and for a long time I lived in or around this wonderfully romantic town. I also studied at the University of Heidelberg and worked there as a lecturer. I started working at ECLA in 2003 and moved to Berlin in 2005.

2) In which district do you live? Tell us a bit about it. Why did you decide to live there?

I live in Pankow/Rosenthal, not far away from ECLA of Bard. To be close to our campus was one of the reasons to move into this neighborhood. It’s a quiet district with lots of nice, clean houses, surrounded by nice, clean gardens with accurately mowed bright green lawns and nice colorful flowers, little bright white fences around the gardens … It’s creepy, like in a David Lynch film, you know, when there is something bizarre and evil lurking right underneath the neat, polished surface of middle class order and tidiness, something vicious hidden within petit bourgeois smugness. Maybe that’s another reason why I have decided to live here …

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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

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Ambassador Murphy's address to the ECLA of Bard graduates

Ambassador Murphy’s address to the graduates

“Commencement”: though the word is rhetorically indicative of a beginning, it has trouble escaping its connotation––at least for students––as the official conclusion, the shake of the hand, and the goodbye to the thousands of pages and hours, myriad lunch debates, late-nights, page-tabbing, research forays, and all that comes along with the pursuit of a liberal arts diploma. After a year (or four) of all these activities and then a few final weeks of frenzied epiphanies, tapping through papers, and packing up boxes, the students at ECLA of Bard submitted their final essays, sighed a deep sigh, and welcomed their friends and family from far and wide to Berlin to celebrate the end of the year––and the commencement of what’s to come.

After a lovely lunch in the convivial intimacy of our small-school cafeteria, the assembling group rambled via bicycle and Straßenbahn down to the Rotes Rathaus (the Red City Hall)––a neo–Gothic /neo–Baroque /Jungendstil mashup success of a brick building in the northern Berlin neighborhood of Pankow that ECLAns call home. The Saal (main ceremonial hall) was decked out in a dignified palette of flowers and bunting. Students wore the contented smiles and placid brows of those who have no extant assignments. Professors and administration were looking sartorially sharp, satisfied that we had all submitted our papers, and pleased they had imparted their wisdom, given their grades, and that we had all learned quite a bit about learning itself.

Everyone sat in long rows across the wide, but not deep, floor of the Saal, comfily within a few rows of the stage––excellent positioning for the capture of expressions and gestures from the podium. Towering above the Saal, backing the Commencement speakers and filtering the light and sounds of the street, a stained-glass window glowed with motifs of labor and bounty. The finicky Berlin late–spring sun chose to shine in through the window upon the stage of graduates just as their diplomas were awarded. Flowers and leather-bound Bard-red diplomas, printed in the most graceful Latin, were distributed along with admonitions to excellence and advisor–selected, red–ribboned books for each of the graduates.

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