This week was the last week of school for my all of my little people at my internship. Though I will be starting another one this week I am sad to say goodbye to my little 5th graders, and heartbroken to stop my short-lived, but incredible, journey with Christina.
In regular we-are-done-with-elementary-school-so-let’s-celebrate-going-to-the-next-school fashion, it was decided we would have a sleepover at the school. The day of, there was also big concert held for the parents in which every class presented a play or song to show what they had learned. My class did the English play of Little Red Riding Hood. It is something I have been working with them on for weeks and happily, it came together quite nicely. Their cute little German accents and inability to say ‘r’ is my favorite, and the parents thought so, too. Afterwards, they came up and thanked me for working with their kids. They will not remember the American student who taught their child how to say ‘really’ correctly, but they will remember they were proud and they were happy, and that is enough.
That night I showed up again at 5:30pm to participate in the overnight festivities. We first went to a water park where they begged me to dip my feet in the ice-cold spring water. I did, and they enjoyed shooting me with spray bottles, and they enjoyed it even more when I chased them down and turned their weapons against them.
We returned to the school where the teacher passed out a number of menus for a cheap pizza place nearby. Two girls, Elise and Lina, begged me to share with them and so we ordered a salami pizza with corn on it (yes, corn on a pizza, no, I am still not ok with it). The evening then unfolded into me doing the worm for them, cartwheels, and then eventually, singing them to sleep with a guitar in hand.
It was a sweet little bliss moment; sitting there and enjoying the sweet little things getting droopy eyed and curling up in sleeping bags. I will admit, due to the nature of my bed pad which was a yoga mat, I did not sleep well that night, but I was happy and full and thankful.
The next morning, they tackled me with a goodbye hug, begged me for my phone number and snapchat. The last thing I did was hugged quiet little Christina goodbye, I looked her in the eyes and in the best way I could I told her she is good, and she will do well, and that I love her. I don’t know how much she understood, but I think our eyes somehow got it across, and again, that is enough for me.
(Coming to you soon, now that I am starting a new internship, is my relations with the Red Cross here in Vienna. Stay tuned!)
Next stop, Salzburg.
In Salzburg I mostly got lost and enjoyed beautiful sunsets from up on top of mountains. I saw the birthplace of Mozart, read his love letters to his wife, and I danced, sang, and ran through places that Julie Andrews also danced, sang, and ran through. If you are a Sound of Music profi, you will notice these places in the pictures. I walked through the famous Salzburg salt mines and licked their walls, and visited the quiet of an abandoned concentration camp where people left stones for the comfort of souls. I went to museums and ate the most delicious bread made from a sweet little water mill under the castle, and I enjoyed musicians play their songs on Mozartsplatz while I laid on the cobblestone and listened. It was an amazing and beautiful little city.
And now, a little detour.
I lived in northern Germany for a year and a half.
Whilst there I learned about this outfit called a ‘trachten’. It is the traditional German dress which you might see in The Sound of Music or a Swiss chocolate wrapper. A dirndl for a girl, and lederhosen for boys.
In northern Germany, hardly anyone wears these outfits. They think it is ‘kitschy’.
In Austria it is awesome and everyone has one and so I ALSO HAVE ONE NOW. (Pictures will come later.) I have embraced the culture and I found a mega cheap and mega traditional one at a thrift store. Why did I decide to do this?
BECAUSE WE WENT TO HALLSTATT FOR CORPUS CHRISTI.
Every year, they celebrate Corpus Christi by dressing up in trachten, bringing out the relics at the church and then walking them through nature, which also implies taking them out onto a boat in the middle of the picturesque lake which Hallstatt is nestled right up against.
Now, where is Hallstatt you might ask?
It is a little town on the edge of the Austrian Alps about an hour away from Salzburg. We were spending our weekend there and one day trip we did was to visit this little place. Also, if you have ever typed in ‘Austrian scenery’ into Google Images, or if you have ever seen an Austrian Themed Calendar, you have seen this place. It is the epitome of cute and traditional alpine land.
The entire way there my face was stuck to the window as we passed scenery which I have only ever dreamed of seeing. I bounced up and down in my chair like a child, and when Hallstatt could be seen around the bend I think I might have passed out momentarily. I sighed and enjoyed that moment of bliss.
As we parked and got out of the bus, I raced out and immediately I felt right at home with my crown braid and dirndl. I was smiling ear to ear and was spinning in circles, trying to suck in as much as the place as I could, when a woman (also in traditional garb) gently put her hand on my shoulder and in beautiful, rich, alpine German said, “I am amazed. Never before have I seen such a joy.”
She repeated this to me a couple times, with a smile of awe and wonderment.
“This is my dream,” I told her, “Is this not perfect?!”
She smiled, and after squeezing my shoulder lovingly, the angel walked away.
I say angel because I am almost positive God sent her. He sent her to point out to me the moment I was experiencing. He sent her to me to remind me that even though I have seen some very dark times, He will provide bright and white and beautiful ones. He sent her to show me that this joy wasn’t just in my head, but others could see it as well, and that I could be happy. He sent her to remind me He is my father, and my dreams and my joys are important to Him, too.
From Austria with love,