Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Internationales Frauenzentrum

These past two weeks, I have been incredibly busy with the Internationales Frauenzentrum (International Womens' Center). About a month ago, there were a bunch of organizations with tables in the Marktplatz. I saw IFZ there but did not have the confidence to try to speak with them (it turns out they probably could have spoken with me in English). I went home, instead, and looked them up on-line. While they have some information in English, most of the events are described in German. Through my poor translation I thought there was a meeting on the second Monday of every month to introduce women to the center. So I waited, then last Monday (the 8th, I think) I went to the center. It turns out that the event I thought was an introduction to IFZ was in fact a tour of the city and it is done on the second Monday of the month ... when there is enough interest. I.e. I needed to have called ahead.

I ended up speaking with the president of the organization who speaks Korean and German ... but very little English. There was a lot of pantomime and dictionary flipping ... but I managed to understand what was going on. So now I go to 3 classes a week and co-run another. I am taking a sewing class. It is a good thing I already know how to sew. Our teacher speaks only German and speaks very very fast. Add to this the fact that everyone else in the room is talking and she is usually sitting at the sewing machine with me behind her (not a good set-up for my hearing problem) and I understand very little. It is going well though. I am also taking an "Integrierender Orientierungskurs für Migratinnen" -- a course for immigrant women to help them understand Germany and integrate more smoothly into society. I missed the first class. Last week was a bit of geography, learning about the German states and capitals but focusing mostly on the state we live in -- Nordrhein Westfalen -- and particularly the Bonn area. The class is entirely in German but there were lots of pictures and maps and I got a lot out of it. Tonight and next week's classes will discuss Democracy in Germany and the following week will be on the festivals and holidays of Germany. I'm really looking forward to that last one.

The third course is Deutsch Konversationkurs -- German Conversation. I think this will be a really good class for me ... but I didn't like the last class very much. I will try again this week. The teacher kept speaking English to me. Oddly enough, she did this for words I understood. I kept telling her I was understanding fine, but maybe I had a puzzled look on my face. My father thinks that perhaps she wanted to show-off her English skills. Who knows.

The center needed an English speaker to lead the English Konversationkurs so I did that this past Monday night. There is a Kenyan woman who is able to lead the class some nights, but not every week. I brought in a Wikipedia article about the Western United States and we read and discussed it. The class seemed to really like it. The previous class, the text that was chosen was at a college level. Most of the participants were struggling to understand and so they were not getting an opportunity to practice speaking.

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