March 3, 2014

Say What You Want To Say...In English

I love Europeans.

Yes, I love my fellow Americans - of course. But European strangers are so much more interesting (read: way cooler conversations) than American strangers!

I could rattle on and on about all of the funny moments, little victories, and great laughs that were had during my week with Diverbo at Englischhausen. But we are all familiar with the excitement and fun that a camp culture creates, so you know these stories already - take a moment to smile back on those memories as often as possible.

American Crazies: Courtney and I instant-friended.
I don't know how the magic happens when people cluster for a week and bond instantly, but it definitely does happen, and these camp friendships can sometimes last a lifetime (we can remember a certain husband who is proof of that). Personally, I think it's the skits.

So I'm not going to tell you about MY week of being an English teacher and supporter, explaining the term "swag" to Germans, and hiking trails in the Black Forest. You are more than welcome to ask me later how the time passed, and my stories will be ready.

We're going for a walk-hike! It's sunny, but this Californian is COLD!
You need to know about this program, and you need to do it for yourself.

America, despite the "we-are-so-progressive" propaganda of our media, lacks some serious cultural awareness. It's not really our fault; as Americans, we are taught to adopt others into our own culture - not to adopt the culture of others. Why waste time taking extra years of language courses, if everyone who wants to live in America has to learn English eventually? We simply equate "culture" with country-specific foods 99% of the time. This is what we know.

But the national cuisine is a result of deeper connections within an individual culture. Even the language, clothing, and weather can vary widely within the countries themselves.

What really creates, stimulates, and maintains culture? The people. Their traditions. Their passions. Their ideas. These are the roots from which the things like food, language, and fashion grow. 

A cultural exchange of ideas is necessary for understanding between people. Diverbo provides this for us in a "hotel camp" atmosphere that makes language learning intensely fun for everyone involved. The students come to learn and practice their English, and the "Anglos" (native English speakers from all kinds of places) come to give their English and learn about humanity.

There is no losing in learning.

Life is full of joy when one can make friends.
The language learners pay a tuition to attend the camp; their fee covers their own room and board, and also is enough to cover the room and board for one of the Anglos. Yes - a true 1:1 ratio for the ultimate personal tutoring sessions. All we Anglos have to do is pay for our transportation to and from the welcome city (usually by a large airport, like Munich, Berlin, Madrid, etc.).

What did we talk about during our 50 minute sessions? Everything: weather, history, war, health care, church, sports, carpentry, coaching, cars, moss, sailing, food, education, movies, death...everything. And that doesn't even get to when we talked about grammar, pronunciation, verb tenses, and spelling!

Meal times are arranged for maximum communication: German-Anglo-German-Anglo.
FACT: If you're an interesting person who wants to learn interesting things about other people, you will never run out of things to talk about.

GO: Be interesting!

Here to work hard and entertain!
Breakfast kicks off everyday at 8am, and you talk, talk, talk through the end of lunch time, around 2pm. You have free time until 4pm, then back at it again until the end of dinner - 9pm! There is optional hang out time after all of that, and this time really is the best part - mostly because I love playing Taboo, singing, and dancing.

A lot of us Anglos had similarities: expert packers, bargain hunters, and thrifty travelers. We connected easily through our willingness to give of our time and words in exchange for a free week of fun. But we were dissimilar in just about every other area of our lives: ages, countries, states, accents, politics, religions, personalities, occupations, financial two of us were exactly the same...and this is what made us great together.

Diverbo is an excellent way to tag on an extra week of vacation in Europe without making a dent in your budget. It is also fabulous for networking and finding even more free places to visit through all of the new friends you will make. I'm already conspiring how I will add a week of Diverbo in Spain before finally tackling my Iberian Insanity trip!

The American adoption concept - "come, become one of us" - does have a certain level of acceptance; but true open-mindedness tells the outsider, "come, be who you are, so we can learn from each other."

Consider Diverbo the next time you open up your travel maps. You'll be a better Anglophone for it.

My squirrel pal on our free time jaunt to Triberg.
P.S. Nobody paid me to promote or write this post (or ANY of my posts, for that matter). I wish someone had. Let me know if you can be that person.

Thanks to everyone - Anglos, Germans, the one Swiss, Diverbo - for a fantastic week! I hope to see you again in France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, or the USA someday!

None of these photos are my own, so thanks to all of you who took pictures!

For more on my #strasbawulyontrip...
My Sunniest Strasbourg
Down in the Ba-Wu
Have ONE Bag, Will Travel