We are eleven American students from Los Angeles, California studying at Loyola Marymount University. This semester we are taking a Sustainable Practices course, where we have the opportunity to learn about the many aspects of environmental sustainability and conservation. As a way to take the knowledge outside of the classroom, we partnered with Biologische Station Bonn/Rhein-Erft (Biostation) to work on one of their many ecological conservation projects. Biostation is an organization dedicated to ecological restoration and awareness in the City of Bonn located in the North Rhine Westphalia state of Germany.
"Our tasks range from the detection of wild animals, plants and habitats through the creation and implementation of care concepts in protected areas to advising farmers for a natural sound land use (cultural landscape program). One focus of our work is to support the Bonn protected areas and the implementation of conservation measures. We maintain wetlands and orchards, run organic landscaping, lead excursions and lectures, and more. The monitoring of selected plant and animal species is used in addition to the risk assessment as a guideline for maintenance concepts and the targeted protection of habitats."
Last year, in the Spring of 2015, a group of Loyola Marymount students collaborated with the Biostation to build multiple gravel pit ponds in a secluded and wooded area of Bonn. These gravel pits serve as an important habitat for several species of amphibians and reptiles. These species play an important role as indicator species because of the permeability of their skin. When there are changes in the environment, this can be observed through changes in population size of these species. Creating a shallow and clear pond is important to allow for spawning and development. Our mission for this project is to continue the work of the previous group by repairing the gravel pit ponds, and to remove trees and extra foliage surrounding the ponds which will increase sunlight to the ponds.
The main goal of this project was to restore breeding ponds and to ensure the safety the Natterjack, Green Toad, and Sand Lizard. Each species has distinctive features that sets it apart from more common species and plays a distinctive role in the ecosystem.
This past week students from the Texas A&M Biosciences program had the opportunity to observe surgeries at the Bonn Uniklinik. Once we arrived we met with one of the anesthesiologists who took us to change into our scrubs. At this point, I was more excited than I thought I would be. Some of us had observed surgeries before, but most of us hadn't. The only experience I've had with surgery is shadowing with veterinarians and what I've seen on Grey's Anatomy. I was eager to find out if the tv drama's depiction of surgery was accurate or not.
After we changed into our scrubs, we were randomly assigned surgeries ranging from cardio, ENT, orthopedics, general, and more. Shelby and I went into an OR with a man who had a hernia. We met with the anesthesiologist, Stephan, who would be our go to person for the rest of the day. Both the anesthesiologists and the surgeons themselves were kind enough to discuss what each of them were doing as well as go over basic anatomy and physiology with us. During our breaks, Shelby and I got the chance to ask others about the surgeries they saw and we got to share about ours.
The next surgery we got to see was a woman who had colon cancer and the doctors were doing an explorative procedure to see if and how much the cancer had spread. We got to see actual intestines! I know not everyone would have this excitement about seeing the human anatomy in person, but for us students, it was very interesting and exhilarating. I can also confirm that Grey's Anatomy exaggerates the amount of blood involved in abdominal related surgeries.
After the surgeries, everyone was eager to share what they saw that day. Two student saw a heart stop beating, others saw a boy get a belly button, and others saw tumors get removed. Many of us wish we could go observe another day in the semester and we were grateful that we had this opportunity that we might not have had if we weren't studying abroad here. Overall, it was a great trip filled with new experiences that left us with a new impression on what surgery entails.
Markers, White-out, cellophane and a little bit of imagination were all Visualization students needed to create short Cell Animations inspired by Marty Cooper also known as Hombre_McSteez.
In their latest 2 day workshop, Yvonne Hagedorn instructed the students on how to create these hand-drawn animation with simple materials and their surroundings as inspiration. They started by drawing the outlines of their characters interacting with their environments and then filled them in with paint to help them pop out of the scene.
The process is a reflection of how early animation was created by companies like Disney Animation Studios and Warner Bros. Entertainment. After all the frames were drawn, they were photographed in the settings. Twelve drawings, or frames, are required for one second of animation. This is the most tedious process since each student drew between 20 and 80 frames to bring their characters to life. Finally, they sequenced the frames together and added sound to polish off their final animations.
Watch the final animations:
This past week I was able to join LMU New Europe and Science students in a weeklong trip to Berlin and Dresden. We all met up early in the morning, and we somehow managed to stuff small bags with enough clothes for 10+ days. After a 4-hour train ride to Berlin, we were greeted by our guide, Sion. He took us on a bus tour around Berlin. There is so much history and many other important sites within Berlin, the Brandenburg gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Bundestag, Museum Island, the Holocaust Memorial, East-Side-Gallery and much more. We were given the chance to walk around the Holocaust Memorial. I didn’t realize exactly why the creator of the memorial chose large cement blocks. As I walked around, the ground was not straight and at some points I could not tell which direction I was going. It was a time for all of us to reflect in a different way and be alone with our thoughts.
Stopping at the Holocaust Memorial started to have us think about what had happened in Germany in the 1940s and the very next day we went to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Over 200,000 prisoners were held captive in this camp. We were able to see for ourselves the size of the camps, living quarters and what was left of a gas chamber.
We then got a tour at the Reichstag Building. This is the seat of the German Parliament and one of the most historic buildings in Berlin. Our group was able to see where all the important decisions are made, the chamber. After the tour we were able to walk in the large glass dome that sits on top of the Reichstag and looks out onto Berlin.
On our third day we were given a tour of the Jewish Museum Berlin. I really enjoyed the symbolism that was involved in the designing and planning of the museum. Daniel Libeskind (the designer) wanted to create a space for people to learn about Jewish culture and history by establishing and securing an identity for Germany after World War II. The one thing that stood out to many of us was the Memory Void (Leerstelle des Gedenkens) These "voids" throughout the museum was to represent the absence of Jews from German society. When you enter the Memory void, you are greeted by 10,000 faces covering the floor. We were meant to walk around and many of my group were hesitant, so I took the first step. All you could hear was the clanking of the metal. Our tour guide told us that although it seems we are walking all over their faces, we are finally giving them a voice and allow them to be heard. That was my favorite part of the exhibit.
The next day we had our MY BERLIN DAY. We all had different activities planned. There were Multicultural, Cold War, Urban Art, and GDR. I was a part of the Cold War group and we went to many of the places that we have already visited. My favorite part was visiting the Checkpoint Charlie museum tour. Our tour guide was a journalist that helped smuggled East Berliners into West Berlin and was imprisoned by the Stasi. Hearing his insights into what was going on in Berlin during the Berlin Wall was very interesting and he was very passionate.
In Dresden we were given a tour of Dresden by Cosima, who lived there during the separation. We had a guided tour of an art museum 'Neue Meister'. Later that night we saw an Opera called 'Don Carlos' at the Semperoper. This opera was performed in Italian with German subtitle, so it was sometimes hard to follow along but it was fun trying to figure out what was going on. On our last day in Dresden we were given a tour of VW manufacturing factory. The factory is transparent and we were able to watch a certain model (Phaeton) being custom made.
It was such a great opportunity for all the LMU students to be travelling together around Germany and learning more about the place we are all calling home!
Dressed as dragons, bears, and crocodiles, our AIB students and I had the opportunity to take part in the traditional LiKüRa parade in Bonn, which falls on the Sunday of the Karneval festivities and runs through the towns of LImericht, KÜdinghoven, and RAmersdorf. But this wasn't just your ordinary parade experience - instead, we teamed up with Therapiezentrum Bonn and volunteered to assist disable residents with mobility issues so that they, too, could participate in the parade.
For a dreary February afternoon, the warm Karneval spirit sure did quickly brighten the day. After being introduced to the person we'd be assisting, it wasn't long until everyone was all smiles, singing along to the classic Karneval songs as we threw out candy into the crowds. The woman I assisted, Sandra, truly enjoyed this part and her face continued lighting up as we made our way down the parade route.
At the end of the parade, we were welcomed at the Therapiezentrum for a small get together, where we all continued getting to know the residents better and wa med up with a bowl of soup. Both students and residents agreed working together made parade was a very unique and meaningful experience. Not only did the parade allow us to learn more about Germanys' cultures and traditions, but we helped these residents to take part in the parade, which was truly the most rewarding aspect of our Karneval celebrations.