This week I experienced a different side of the working with the public sphere, which was participating in outreach and holding programs for. I attended a “Sommer Akademie” in Castrop-Rauxel, which was basically a week-long day camp for younger children during their break from school. I didn’t know what to expect – there were assorted activities all week. For the one day that I attended, we went on a nature walk near the Emscher, and experienced the naturalized area in Dortmund, as well as (an underground treatment plant?) near the Winterdienst tributary. I got to see a lot of the Emscher that I had never experienced, and also learned about the culture of ecological education in the Ruhr. The class wasn’t huge – maybe around 20-30 children, all around eight years of age or younger. The kids were a bit timid of me at first, since I can’t really speak German, but they eventually started holding my hand and talking to me. We had a great time and went back to the Akademie afterwards to have some lunch and play, at which time I also saw the extensive garden community next to the school. It had some of the most beautiful residential gardens I’ve ever seen.
Additionally, I was allowed to take some vacation days this weekend. At Emschergenossenschaft, employees are allowed two vacation days a month, so I decided to take a trip to Finland. It has been a place I’ve wanted to visit since fifth grade, when we all chose countries to make a presentation about. I of course chose Finland, wrote the Finnish embassy in DC, and it has always stuck with me. I had a wonderful time in Helsinki. I got to experience the beautiful architecture, specifically Alvar Aalto, beautiful nature, leisurely lifestyle, and my favorite – the Finnish sauna. In my three day trip, I spent quite a few hours in the sauna, meeting people from all over Finland and the world, relaxing, and jumping into the Baltic Sea. The sauna is a very safe feeling space – there is no hierarchy, everyone respects the rules and works together to keep the saunas running. And it is the most relaxing feeling to go from sauna to sea and back. It was a wonderful experience!