Introduction and preparation
My name is Damiana and I am currently enrolled in a Master of Education program with the subjects English and Spanish at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. An obligatory part of my studies is a stay abroad with a minimum duration of three months to apply and deepen both language and intercultural competencies as well as methodological and didactic skills in practice.
Based on my subjects, I decided to go to California. Through the “Weltverband Deutscher Auslandsschulen“ (WDA), I came across the German School Campus in Newport Beach in June of last year, which would allow me to not only pass on the knowledge in my subjects of study but also teach German culture.
The website, the lesson design, and the variety of cultural events quickly aroused my interest, so I immediately started to write my application. A short time later, Mrs. Schoeneich, the school director, invited me to a digital interview. Her friendly, open nature and the heart and soul she puts into her school convinced me right away. We quickly agreed on a time frame for the internship and the planning began. During this time, Mrs. Schoeneich always had an open ear and was available at all times. After finding a sponsor, applying for the visa, and being accepted for a DAAD scholarship, I could finally start my journey on March 11, 2023.
My first week in California
Mrs. Schoeneich picked me up at the airport in Los Angeles and gave me a very warm welcome. On Sunday, I was lucky to have the opportunity to explore a cultural site: together with Mrs. Schoeneich, her husband, and Freya, the current intern, we went to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. The Library is the repository of presidential records from the administration of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, and the burial place of the president and the first lady, Nancy Reagan. It is the largest of the 13 federally operated presidential libraries, containing millions of documents, photographs, films, and tapes.
There is a permanent exhibit covering Ronald Reagan’s life, as well as memorabilia such as the Air Force One, the aircraft personally used by the president, and a section of masonry from the Berlin Wall. It was really impressive!
At the beginning of the next week, I got to know the other teachers and their great students, gaining first insights into the classrooms. Everything is very harmonious, the students visibly feel comfortable, have fun and learn a little bit more every day. Be it first grammar rules, cultural facts from Germany and Spain, or cooking and baking, the teachers of the German School Campus can convey all this excellently with their selected textbooks and their pedagogical know-how. It is a great pleasure to support the teachers in their work and to learn from them every day!
On the weekend, Freya and I explored Los Angeles. Apart from the famous sights known from movies and TV, like the Walk of Fame, the English Theatre, and the Rodeo Drive, my highlight was the Griffith Observatory! Located on the south side of Mount Hollywood at an altitude of 300 meters, it offers a breathtaking view of downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It was fantastic!
My second week in California
After getting to know the students a little better, I got to give the kids of different ages (K – 12) a glimpse into my hometown, culture, and traditions. The kids asked questions, we got into conversations and so we all had the chance to learn something new.
On Tuesdays, I accompany Mrs. Schoeneich to German class at Aliso Viejo Middle School, where this week we worked on Nena’s famous song “99 Luftballons”. The kids got to learn new vocabulary, learned more about the history of Germany, and had a lot of fun in the process!
In this week’s Kids’ Baking and Cooking classes, we made a traditional potato salad with sausages, Grandma’s cabbage rolls, and a carrot cake, fitting for the Easter season 🙂 Mrs. Schoeneich and Mrs. Wuerfler place a lot of emphasis on the children learning a wide variety of techniques while being able to work independently and safely. Of course, the children have the most fun when they finally get to taste the great dishes they prepared 🙂
This week was full of new and exciting impressions, I am already looking forward to the next weeks!