I struggled a lot creating my Pecha Kucha and this corresponding blog post. I cannot describe my CR experience in one presentation, or one post. I probably cannot describe it in just words either, so I will not try to do that. I can compartmentalize and focus on certain subjects, certain sites, particular moments or learning experiences; but, trying to define the experience into one story or one set of words, impossible. A few key moments or lessons will just have to do.
My Pecha Kucha focuses only on Germany because that is where I learned the most about the past and how that affects our present. Germany remembers its past through memorials to those harmed by its actions. I loved this part of Germany when I wrote a blog about it and I still think about it all the time. I found that the way Germany remembered its past is an example to all of us about how we should remember our past. There is a big push in the United States to become better at remembering our past, including what to memorialize and what to condemn. After a few months back in the U.S., everyone is still arguing about right and wrong or what our past even is. Germany’s approach to the past is inspiring to me, and hopefully, others in the United States to do better and recognize who we wronged.
During the trip, I focused on flexibility and adaptability. Things were never going to go perfectly – trains would never be on our side, museums would be closed on Mondays, and deals on leather purses would not be ideal. However, I discovered that it is boring for everything to go according to plan. It is the unexpected moments that led to greatest lessons. This meant sometimes throwing away the map and following your gut to the nearest u-bahn station. Dancing to music so loud that the police are called. On a whim, deciding to go intermediate canyoning and then “rescuing” a rat stuck in a hallway on top of the Swiss Alps. Stopping at a random café and having amazing Nutella and strawberry crepes, two days in a row… oops. Popping into Montblanc and pretending like Matt and I could afford a $500 pen. Running, actually fast walking, around Rome to find pieces of a puzzle to get to the bald eagle. You cannot control life and through CR I recognized that you shouldn’t try to . Things are going to go so right and things are going to go so wrong too. And that’s ok.
I learned so much about history, culture, and memorials, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t learn the most from the people who experienced this journey with me. First, I cannot thank Dr. P enough for inviting me to be on this trip. I will be eternally grateful to this trip and Dr. P for his careful planning, mentoring, and friendship. Second, Mollie!!! Mollie left her life for three and a half weeks to guide us on this crazy experience and I am so grateful that she did. Mollie was the rock and cared so deeply about all of us. Lastly, my 15 amazing peers. Every single person on CR taught me something that is impossible to learn in any museum or textbook. They inspire me to be better and to dedicate myself to loving others.
It sounds cheesy, and it is cheesy, but CR is one of those things that lasts forever. We may not be in Europe anymore, but we have each other. These are the people I go to when I need to laugh, cry, or just talk. I love them all with my whole heart. While I’m still working on how to express that love at times, I hope they feel it. I am so excited for the future and to see what these amazing 17 people do, because I know it will be great. I wish I could describe what this experience means to me, but I cannot even put it into words, it means everything.
Writing this blog and creating my Pecha Kucha is bittersweet. This feels like the end of something great, but I know that these 17 other people will be with me throughout my experience at TCU and beyond. So, for now, I am signing off, knowing this is not the end, but really the beginning.