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First Day at Centropa Academy

The CENTROPA Summer Academy that I am here for started today.  There must be 70 of us in the entire group.  The other people are mostly educators and are from every country you can imagine...USA, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Greece, Israel, Turkey, Chicken and rice...(that was a joke, haha..not) Serbia, Macedonia, Hungary, Austria and on and on.  We mingled in the lobby at about noon and then headed to our first session at the Oranienberg Strasse Neu Synagogue.  There we had a welcome session and learned more about what the rest of the week would be.  We viewed the new CENTROPA web site to get an idea of the material available for the projects we are required to do and present on the last day.  A nice lunch in Cafe Orange was provided as well.  We then took a walking tour of what was and still is the Jewish quarter of Berlin.  It is called Mitte.  The various sites of the institutions that made up that lost community were on the tour, such as the former Jewish High School, girls school, Jewish Hospital, the current community center and other places that played a vital part in what makes a community a community.  Then a quick walk back to the hotel and ready for the evening.  All day long I have been making videos of what we are doing, seeing, etc.  My job as a part of the video team is to document the academy and what we do as well as create a model project with a partner that could be used in our schools to show our own students how they can use the CENTROPA material to make their own video projects.  It is a good way to involve students because it has them involved in reconstructing history into a personal creative video project with the historic information, pictures, interviews, videos and such.  We all know as seasoned educators that students can enjoy learning history when they do a project in which they are hands on immersed rather than just having their heads filled with tons of information and facts that they will most likely never remember.  I believe that goes for young as well as college students which I teach.  it gives today's tech savvy students a chance to show off the technology-creative skills with a medium that they are so close to and have grown up on.  This is the video generation.  If you don't believe me watch how immersed your kids are when they use the computer, I Pad, video game, and cell phone.  They learn how to use the creative software quickly and without the fear that older people have.  Tomorrow we will take a bus and walking tour of historical Berlin and then later work on our projects after a learning session as it says in our agenda.  

For Now...time to sleep...Rich Gair


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