12 June, 2011

Amsterdamster II

Our time in Europe was more a vacation than part of our project, but we want to share the highlights. Not only for those that know us, but it's great practice for once we're going full speed in India.

For our first full day in Amsterdam we toured the city with intentions to visit 3 places of which we made it to 0 in time to actually get in. That evening our host Jonica took us out for some rad Thai food place in the red light district, after which we wandered around, got yelled at by some women in windows, and saw some sweet live music in the dam plaza.

Part of the reason for our delays, other than not being concerned about rushing through the city, has to do with Pras and bicycles. Through no conscious effort of his own, Pras hadn't needed to ride a bike in over 20 years, and he never really learned the first time.

But in Amsterdam everybody bikes everywhere. In fact, if you aren't riding a bike, locking up your bike, dodging bikes, or talking about bikes, it's hard to feel connected to the city in any real way.

And so if there was ever a time and place to master the skill, we were in the middle of it. Thanks to the excellent teachings of Tony and Chrissy, after many stumbles Pras was able to ride around parts of Amsterdam. He still had to stop well before crosswalks and unnecessarily freaked himself out every time he came close to someone or something, but the world of two wheels was finally opened. The footage is priceless, and we'll have it up as soon as we figure out how to deal with the weird format it's in.

The one way to relate this to our project is that it's always important for teachers to remember what it's like to learn. It's too common to become so immersed in the material or subject that you lose a sense of what it was like to not know it. And if there's one thing Pras experienced by scraping up his legs and looking foolish in front of hundreds of adults, it was the child like feeling of learning through trial and error.

The next day went better than the first as we achieved all of the failed attempts from the day before. We saw tons of awesome paintings by van Gogh, looked into the Heineken experience and instead opted for a pint across the street at a local pub who had kindly given us directions the day before. Then we got some brews, meats, and cheeses at the Brouwerij ‘t IJ which had some pretty great strong Belgian style ales and a giant windmill.

Then we caught the train to Hamburg.

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