After spring break, I had three days of school and then it was off to my internship! At my school, all 11th graders get the chance to find an internship in a field that interests them and work there for two weeks. Even though I came late and almost everyone already had an internship, my school was willing to give me time to find something. It took a lot of looking around- I asked at 6 places before finding something because most of the internship spots were already filled, but in the end, I got a position at a kindergarten!
I dove right in on my first day, playing with the kids, helping them prepare food, and keeping them from arguing (too much) with each other. Although I didn’t think I would be able to find very many cultural differences in a Kindergarten, I was wrong! In my experiences working with younger children in America, the teachers were always quick to rush to a child who needed help. In the German kindergarten, when a child fell down, made a mess, or was struggling, I found that the German teachers were more likely to leave the child on their own to figure it out. At first it struck me as odd- mean, almost. But I quickly realised that it was not done with malicious intent, simply that they wanted the children to be independent and learn to solve problems that cross their paths. And if, after a bit of trying, the child still couldn’t figure it out, the teachers were ready to be by their side to help them figure it out!
I’ve had multiple chances to interact with little kids during my time in Germany and have always found them to be some of the most interested people in what my life in America is life. Lots of them don’t have any experience with people from other countries and are fascinated when I tell them about the differences between my life in the United States and my life in Germany. Not only did I get to share bits of my culture with them, but they became familiar faces in my town who would always run over to say hi if we saw each other outside of the kindergarten! As a going away gift, the kids painted a bowl for me so that I would think of them every time I use it.
Although the chance to do an internship was completely unexpected, the chance to have experienced another important aspect of the German upbringing -and to have made some new little friends while doing it- was so worth it, and I hope to visit them again someday!