Wed, September 21 – Going Mobile
Well, as you can see by the picture, we have acquired bicycles. The first few days of bussing around Ludwigshafen have convinced us that bicycles are the best way to get around here. A single tram ticket costs around $3.75/person, so to go downtown and return costs us approx. 15 dollars. Even a daily ticket for two people is almost as much. Therefore, we were on the hunt for some bicycles to use.
I (Karl) was fortunate to receive one (not being used) from friends who live nearby. After some online searching, we met a lovely couple in a nearby community who sold us their used “Damenrad” for a very reasonable price via eBay – thank you Internet! Since then we have been able to do more exploring around our apartment and Ludwigsahfen.
It has also allowed me to get to some of the “Asyl Cafes” much more easily. There are various organizations (some religious) that offer weekly times for refugees (asylum seekers) and those who work with them to meet and chat. They offer free drinks and snacks and often internet, allowing many to contact friends and family less expensively. It has allowed me to meet some people and hear their stories. Greg suggested visiting these cafes to build relationships and see how we can be of help to these new Germans.
Ahmad is a young hairdresser from Aleppo, Syria trying to find a life. His German skills are quite weak, so he relies heavily on Google Translate to help him negotiate the bureaucracy of living in Germany. Filling out applications for housing and education has been trying. He’s is currently living in a small apartment with three other men from different countries. The only language they have in common is English, yet they all need German to get around here. Language classes are available but not always accessed.
Right now, Gregory Rabus (my boss) and I are looking into the possibility of me teaching some courses at the Volkshochschule in Ludwigshafen. This would be one way to help and see what other needs we may be able to meet through the Friedenshaus.
In the meantime, Marla is doing some very intentional German study at home and is trying to set up a Tandem Partner program where she speaks German with a native speaker and he/she speaks English and they help each other learn. It seems like a good follow up to some of the vocabulary work she is doing and hopefully quite practical.
German word of the week: Aufenthaltserlaubnis: residency permit – something all refugees need and something we need to apply for this week. We will head down to the Rathaus (city hall) and see how we apply for our visa.