After completing another two-hour video conference with the Kreisgymnasium Hochschwarzwald located in the Black Forest region of Germany in Titisee-Neustadt, I recall numerous fond memories of my time in Germany both as a student and later twice as a Fulbright teacher. We maintain contact with many of our friends and family all over Germany.
Many might find the experience of moving to Germany to live and to teach there for one entire year to a daunting task and would simply take the easier route and remain at home in the US. Included in my experience before teaching in Germany was the fact that I lived and studied in Heidelberg, Germany for three years. I try to take things in stride, and one of my mottos is “where there’s a will; there’s a way” and if others have gone before me, I can do it as well.
It is one thing to be a single person and study in Germany and a totally different experience to pack for an entire year for three of us both times. My husband remained in the US and was able to visit us and always brought along suitcases of clothes for the next change in seasons and brought back what we were finished with. We still had some 25 boxes to mail home at the end of the year.
The first Fulbright experience we spent living in Schweindorf, a village of 300, and I commuted to Neresheim about ten minutes away by car where I taught. At the time, Neresheim probably had a population of about 10,000. I learned to rely heavily on my support teacher and other colleagues for child care before and after school for our two young children, 3 and 6 at the time. We each had a different daily schedule. Our son attended first grade in a neighboring village called Koesingen which was the home of Oscar Mayer. Our daughter attended kindergarten in Schweindorf. Our second family was a big, warm and welcoming family with whom we remain friends to this very day. Horst and Hilde Spielberger have four daughters and owned and operated a restaurant with a bowling alley below, and an apartment where we could live. There was a big barn where horses were kept and next to it, chickens and at the time, there was a separate pig barn. They had lots of land and gardens, and our children played quite happily all around the village, much as I had been able to in rural Massachusetts in my childhood.
This past summer I was able to return to Schweindorf and traveled to the Black Forest area to meet the teachers and students we video conference and exchange pen pal letters with during the year. So each time I take the mini-trip to Germany via our video conferences, I recall the former days of happiness and carefree childhood spent in the small village. It is one of life’s pleasures to reconnect with family and friends. They have a special place in my heart.