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2 posts from November 2015

11/25/2015

Fall 2015, Issue II

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Central European Studies

 

Overnight trip to Nuremberg- The Holocaust in the Films and Literature of Arnošt Lustig

Students of The Holocaust in the Films and Literature of Arnošt Lustig with Josef Lustig had a unique opportunity to travel participate in the specially designed academic over nigh field trip. They shared their experience of the trip with us.

"My entire life starting early on in my childhood I learned the horrors of the concentration camps the Nazis utilized. Prior to our journey to Flossenburg on the Nuremburg academic trip, I never could associate the knowledge with actual places; my mind somehow not completely connecting what I knew to reality because it is so unbelievable. However, upon visiting the site everything I learned in the past and was currently learning in class became almost too real.

 Upon arriving in Flossenburg we were faced with a climate that was all too fitting for the events that took place there with a fog so thick you could not see the building we were walking to, air so cold it bit through my pants, and sky so gloomy one could not help but feel the despair that still lingered in the air. In all honestly I preferred the weather of Flossenburg to a much greater extent not because I enjoyed it by any means, but because it gave me a very real glimpse into the suffering of the inmates that were once imprisoned there. The thought of having to get up before the sun rise and set to work in a quarry for 12 hours in that weather is unfathomable, but was the reality faced by many.

              Our stay our Nuremburg definitely made an impression as well. For starters, the hotel we stayed at and the dinner there were both out of this world! Following dinner we had a break down discussion of the day with the professor and his aunt, gaining further firsthand knowledge into the past. Afterwards, my peers and I decided to check out Nuremburg at night, leading us to a castle area that was converted into a center of nightlife for the city. The following day was accompanied by a series of adventures from walking the rally ground of the Nazi party, to visiting the Nuremburg courthouse where the trials took place, to walking into the depths of an old Nazi art bunker underneath the city.

Visiting Flossenburg and Nuremburg was an eye-opening experiences in so many ways. Being accompanied by Hanna (Professor Lustig’s aunt) on the trip, she provided invaluable insights of what life in the camp was actually like from someone who had to endure it herself. It moved something inside me to see that Hitler had not won his war against the Jews in it’s entirely. That there was survivors of his insanity that were able to start new lives (re-acclimate)  and bear witness to the evil of the past so it will never be repeated in such a systematic fashion in the future. I think it is critical to visit the sites that these crimes against humanity were committed in order to fully understand the extent of the Holocaust and just how something so unbelievable is to many really was. The Nuremburg academic trip was a powerful experience, an experience I definitely recommend for others to undertake."

Written by Chaz Hermanowski (Babson College)

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Communications, new media and journalism

 

Overnight trip to Brno with focus on Communications, Ethnic Minorities and the Media.

 

Students in CNMJ program with Martina and Lenka (CIEE Resident Staff in Prague) had the unique opportunity to participate in specially designed academic field trip to Brno. The objective of the trip was to explore Moravian culture, learn about student radio broadcasting run by students and discuss the image of ethnic minorities in media.

First stop was Radio R, local internet radio run by students at the Faculty of Social Science at Masaryk University. They are a non-commercial and non-profit radio. Their time and energy is voluntary. At Radio R they say many of them have experience from other radio and television programs, while many of them are not professionals in the field and therefore, Radio R is a hobby on the side of work or studies. More important for them than polished speech is enthusiasm, the desire to learn, and the potential to provide listeners with something interesting. Most of the CIEE students broadcasted for the very first time in their lives in Radio R.

Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic and the The Villa of Greta and Fritz Tugendhat from the years 1929–1930, designed by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is an installed monument to Modern architecture. It is the only exemplar of Modern architecture in the Czech Republic recorded on the UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage. CIEE students were impressed to be able to visit the room where the decision on Czechoslovakian division was made at a rounded table.

Brno is the capital of Moravian region well-known for wine tasting. It is part of Czech culture to grow grapes and produce delicious wines. Wine connoisseur introduced us to different types of wines and homemade cheese in Wine Gallery. ”Škvarky“ (pork rind) is the typical dish served on traditional Czech bread to accompany the wine tasting.

Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons in the Czech Republic... when it is not raining. It was not when we were in Brno and that is why students loved the guided tour in Brno so much. The surroundings of Špilberk castle were covered with leaves of all kinds of colors. It was peaceful to walk in the park and enjoy the view.

At the end of the trip we visited the biggest Museum of Romani culture in Central Europe in a neighborhood that locals call „Bronx of Brno“. The fact that the museum was founded in Brno is well substantiated: in its activities, the Museum draws on the legacy of the then first Romani organization in Czechoslovakia – The Association of Gypsies-Roma (1969-1973) which had its headquarters in Brno. The Museum’s mission has remained the same from the very beginning: thorough documentation of the history, as well as the traditional and temporary culture of the Roma whom the Museum considers to be a world-wide ethnic group. CIEE students discussed current image of Roma in media with PR manager Radek Žák. The museum is also a community center and work with Roma children.

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Film Studies

 Overnight trip to Zlín, Uherské Hradiště and Punkva caves with focus on animation and Czech immersion

During the weekend of October 9-11, 2015, students enrolled in the CIEE Prague Film Studies attended an overnight trip to Moravia region. The trip was specifically designed for them, so the focus was on film animation which has a significant history in the Czech lands. But of course studying abroad is not only about growing academically, but also getting to know other culture(s) and one of the CIEE primary missions is to provide as immersive experience for our students as possible.

One of the program participants had shared his experiences from that weekend:

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We traveled to Moravia, first to Zlín, and then to Uherské Hradiště, where we stayed in an excellent hotel. The highlights of the trip were many, so I am forced to summarize. In Zlín, we learned a bit about Tomáš Baťa, who turned a $320 inheritance from his mother into an international manufacturing company with a strict moral code to take care of its workers. Some referred to him as the Henry Ford of Europe, and rightly so. His methods for shoe production reduced the cost of high quality shoes in Czechoslovakia and the surrounding regions drastically. As an employer, he took care of his own with very high moral and ethical standards. For example, when he learned that his employees had to walk multiple hours from home to the factory every day, twice a day, he decided to build inexpensive, subsidized housing for his employees. When people regarded him as charitable, he would disagree, stating instead that it made economic sense to allow the entire population (not just his employees) to profit from economic growth as much as possible. In his mind, hours were always too long, and wages always too low. It was his responsibility to remedy that. An interesting factoid about Baťa is that he was the first to introduce the “99” to the end of a price-tag. He understood that “199” looks intuitively better than “200.”

In Zlín we also learned a bit about multiple forms of animation, including two forms of 2D animation, pixel animation, and puppet stop motion animation.

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Digital 2D Animation

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Traditional Cel 2D Animation

I found pixel animation particularly interesting. It involves using live actors as your subjects, and taking photos of them stop-motion style to produce interesting or impossible results. For example, you could have two people sitting on the floor with their arms raised to imaginary steering wheels, and have them move an inch at a time forward with each picture, creating the illusion that their bodies are “driving” across the floor.

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Pixel Animation

My favorite part of the trip was the trip to the Punkva Caves. The caves themselves were stunningly beautiful, and millions of years old.

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The tour ended with an underground boat ride, which was amazing! Albeit a little dangerous…lots of rocks
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Underground Boat Ride!!!!

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There is so much more to Moravia than I’ve just written, but you’ll have to take my word on that.”

Written by Corey Palermo (Rice University/CIEE FAMU Film Studies Production track)

Some of the animation workshop results are available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gcix1ipoisbw1pp/AAC-lZF_cKKV5ilG1nFtzZ_Ra?dl=0

In addition, students visited a local wine cellar as Moravia is traditionally a wine growing region. The winemaker, Mr. Vyhlíd, first shared the history of the “U Lisu” cellar – the first mention of the house and vineyard is from 1713! Yummy homemade dinner consisting of local specialties prepared by his wife was a highlight for many students, especially because it was accompanied by traditional Moravian life music. After the dinner, wine tasting followed and students got to learn about the winemaking process as well as about the traditional types of wine grown in the village of Mařatice and surroundings. Students were impressed by famous Moravian hospitality and Mr. Vyhlíd was happy to share his knowledge with such an interested and respectful group of young people.

Global Architecture and Design

Overnight trip to Berlin- Berlin Summit

 

Students from Global Architecture Design studio in Prague visited Berlin in early November in order to compare their study progress with students from Berlin and Barcelona studios. Find below impressions of one of our students, Allison Bettencourt.

On November 3rd, we arrived at Berlin around 15:00. We then navigated the metro system and got to the new CIEE building around 16:00 and were shown around the new building. We were then given packets with everything we would need for the week (room keys, schedules, emergency info, etc.). Free time began after all this and we went out to dinner as a group.

On November 4th, we got up early and all the GAD kids had breakfast together (provided by CIEE) while Maria Aiolova introduced herself and her work. It was very informative and nice of her. The food was good too. We then went outside and listened the speeches of the ribbon cutting ceremony. It was really interesting and surprising to see so many influential people in one place. The US Ambassador to Germany was there along with a member of the German Parliament. Seeing how security vetted the area before their arrival was also very interesting. After all of the festivities we went downstairs into the basement of the new CIEE facility and were able to sit and talk with Daniel Libeskind. That was a really memorable experience. We were all just sitting and asking questions to him. He was very personable and friendly; a truly amazing experience. After this we all gathered upstairs and went to the CIEE Conference at the Hilton Hotel. The teachers helped up get to the Hotel. The Conference had name tags for all of us and we were able to sit in reserved seated for the Daniel Libeskind speech. It was really interesting to see the difference in him and his topics between the more personal encounter and the formal speech. Both were amazing. He is a fantastic speaker. Once the conference was over, we were offered food and drinks. It was a very nice buffet of food and we were able to meet new people in the CIEE world.

On November 5th, we got up early and got our own breakfasts and coffee before our presentations. By 9 all GAD students were downstairs in the basement of the CIEE building preparing for our presentations. Maria Aiolova and the professors were also there. It was really nice having them there showing their support and interest in our projects. By 9:30 we were starting presentations. Berlin started off. They had mostly site analysis work and a very nice model. Then we went and answered some discussion questions that were asked after our presentations. And then Barcelona went. They had videos to show which were site analysis focused and nice. After this we went to lunch at the Market nearby and then were given free time.

On November 6th, we met downstairs by 9:15 to go to our tour of the Jewish Museum. It was a very nice tour (especially since we had just met with Daniel Libeskind). We then ate lunch at the café ad CIEE was nice enough to pay for it all. We then had a tour of the rest of Berlin with our professors and they did a very nice job. After that we were given free time.

We had free time on Saturday to explore the city ourselves and we left early Sunday. It was a very organized, fun, memorable experience.

Written by Allison Bettencourt (California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo)

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11/04/2015

The Czech Republic's Banksy

written by Graham Marema (Davidson College)

My parents decided to take advantage of my semester abroad and came to visit me last week. They’ve  always wanted to go to Prague but it’s not something they’ve ever been able to prioritize, so this trip was big for them. I’m sure seeing me was a perk.

 They came armed with Rick Steve’s Guide to Prague, where they read all about the sights - the Prague Castle, the Lennon Wall, the Charles Bridge, the astronomical clock. When they got here, I said, “Yeah, yeah, that stuff’s cool, but here’s the game plan: I’m going to take you around the city and show you all of David Cerny’s artwork.”

 

When I first got here, it took a manner of days before I heard David Cerny’s name. Now he seems to be everywhere. To me, this is something that defines the city just as much as the Prague Castle sitting perpetually in the background every time you look up at the skyline. His art represents a lot of what I think is cool about the Czech Republic. Cerny’s first big stunt was painting a huge Soviet tank - a memorial to the country’s liberation in 1945 - bright pink. Since then his stunts have gotten bigger, crazier, and, nowadays, a bit more legal. But no less shocking.

 The Czech Republic has a history that is dark at times, even darker at others, and constantly under change and reformation. While to some it may seem that David Cerny just takes every possible opportunity to thumb his nose at society, I see his art as a new way to commemorate the past, making it brighter and more noticeable, humorous and honest.

 I’m sure my parents raised their eyebrows at a few of the things I showed them. But it’s important, when visiting a new city, to embrace the strange, lesser-known parts of the culture - the giant babies with screens for faces clawing their way up the TV tower, the sculpture of a dead upside down horse ridden by St. Wenceslas, and a few others which the reader can Google on their own time. And afterwards my parents managed to see the castle and the John Lennon Wall as well.