Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bridging the Gap (that is the Atlantic Ocean)...

Writing this blog is rather challenging at times - in a good, amusing way, of course. And I've always been one for a challenge... whether it be packing up and moving overseas, or trying to switch from soprano to alto in choir. :)

Back in the day (well, knapp five months ago), I simply wrote anything about anyone here in Germany, only expecting a select few Texans to read it. Then came The Turning Point: a certain curious technical (and musical!) genius discovered this page, and the rest is history.

Now, I have to keep two audiences in mind, in a way. And one of those audiences is frequently the topic of my writing, which makes things even more complicated (but you all know I love you and wouldn't have it any other way!).

The people here, especially everyone at church, have become a tremendously significant part of my life. Ergo... if I'm going to write about my life here and what's important to me, I'm going to have to include everyone else, despite the fact that several read this.

Last night during Bible Study, we went slightly off topic to discuss my lovely little blog project. The feedback was positive and encouraging, and everyone encouraged me to continue writing, even if the content is personal, about the church, or sometimes about other people. Bizarro Mom (she somehow finds her way into every other entry!) and Neal* (our local progressive rocker and flute player) both agreed that what I've written thus far isn't offensive; they live here; they know how Germany is. And it's interesting to have an outsider's perspective on life and culture.

In the past several months, my audience has obviously changed... which made me re-think the focus of my writing and my goals in writing.

My original goal was to share my German life with those in Texas... not everyone has the chance to live and be submersed abroad, and I hope my dear Texas readers can learn and live vicariously through my ramblings. Americans (I love you guys!) are notorious for not being that... how shall we phrase this?... "culturally aware" at times. One of my goals is to change that among my circle of friends and readers.

I'm very pleased and excited that two groups are now reading this, and I think it's important that each group is aware of the other. So...

Mary: "Texas Readers, allow me to introduce my new German Readers."
Texas Readers: "Whoa, they're not wearing Lederhosen or drinking beer... weird."
Mary: "And German Readers, let me introduce you to my dear Texas Readers."
German Readers: *proceed to shake hands and brush up on their English skills*

The new goal is to bridge the gap, in a way, between two different groups of people, two different cultures, two different ways of thinking. Deep, deep down we're all people with the same needs, desires and yearnings... but that doesn't mean there aren't some rather entertaining differences. There's really so much we can learn from one another.

So, my encouragement to anyone who reads this is the following: take advantage of the situation! If you have questions or comments about anything, or want to share any ideas, please do so. If you've had experience abroad and would like to share a thought or story, let me know and I'll publish it here. For example, Eleanor studied at a New Jersey high school and wrote a paper about her first 24 hours in the States. I wanted to publish here... but she's unfortunately unable to find it! (Keep looking, Eleanor!!) Ideally, this is to be a group project and learning experience. Ah, idealism. 'Twill be the end of me.

Over the past couple of weeks, several people have said that they tried to leave comments but were unable to. If you ever want to add anything to this page, please let me know! Send me an e-mail. Give me a phone call. Give me a note. Tell me in person. I'll add it as fast as you can say "Eierlegendewollschlagsahnesau."

The sporadic comments from Steph** are great - she's had overseas experience and can add insights such as which Trash Category hair-dryers fall into. Karen's** comments are also wonderfully encouraging - it's people like her that make me want to continue sharing and writing. I know my Texas Readers got a kick out of Helmut's** comments (yes, he's real, folks)... he was the first German who dared to surface and add something. Then there's Kenny*... always love to hear from him.

Writing has always been something I love... so, as long as life is interesting and provides me with decent material, I'll continue to write whether or not others join me. I just want to make it very clear that this is a good opportunity for all involved, and I don't want anything to hold anyone back from sharing ideas or asking questions.

*name changed to protect privacy

**name unchanged and privacy unprotected

Quote of the Day: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." - Mark Twain

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