Friday, December 05, 2008

Auf Deutsch

oder auf englisch?

I've just returned from Germany or more specifically Paderborn, which is north west Germany. Just an hour on the plane from Stanstead.

We landed on Tuesday morning and had German breakfast, meat, bread, cheese and coffee (fleisch, brot, käse und kaffee). Before heading to our accommodation in Borchen about 7km from Paderborn. Stephanus-Haus is a youth centre, much like any youth centre in the UK. Lots of room. We headed to Schloss Neuhaus to visit a school and chat to the teachers about exchanges. We went to met Uwe (oo-ver) and all the paid and volunteer youth workers in the region of Paderborn (but Paderborn is a town as well, following me?) in the evening.

Our hosts, Volker and Konni head up the team and were leading the meeting. A long day and the meeting was long too, but everywhere we went we received a warm welcome and food.

On Wednesday we had breakfast in Wewelsburg, a village with a castle which was taken over by Himmler in WWII. There was also a Concentration Camp just outside the village. It was a very tough day, to face the past and to know that I have learnt nothing much from the history books. When it is in your face, it's hard. If you ever have the opportunity to go, do it. It's very educational.

In the evening we went to a youth service and visited a Youth House, an actual house with lots of space for young people to hang out. More coffee and stollen, so much cake. On to Uwe's for dinner and more chatting. Pictures are on the website. He lives miles away in the east of the region, up in the hills. Oh and it snowed!

On Thursday we spent the day in Paderborn, meeting the Superintendant of the KirchenKreis for breakfast. To the Town Hall (Rathaus) for a meeting with the head of the Youth Service in Paderborn. Two very important ladies in leadership. Then back to Wewelsburg for observing an afterschool project, where some very brave 6-8year olds spoke English to us.

We had 2.5 hours in Paderborn for the Weihnachtsmarkt. I really enjoyed the feel of the Market. We ended our trip back in Wewelsburg with dinner in Ottens Hof. Lovely dinner, great company and it's so lovely to be family across the world.

My love for Germany, for the language and the people has got stronger throughout this trip and I was sad to say goodbye this morning at 5am british time.