By Brendan McLean
January 5 – Wittenberg, Germany
After a full day of walking around the town of Wittenberg in the bitter cold, learning and observing the many sites associated with Luther and Philip Melanchthon, we settled down at Colleg Wittenberg, where we are staying tonight. We walked into the area where breakfast and lunch are served and met five men who had made an arduous journey from Syria to Germany as refugees, fleeing a war they refuse to fight in and leaving their loved ones that were unable to make the trip. The next hour and a half was one of the most heart breaking conversations I have witnessed in my entire life. Hearing the experiences of these five men, the first refugees I have met from Syria personally, caused me to reshape my image of the refugee situation in Europe and the Middle East. I believe a person learns most from traveling and observing/listening to the experiences of people who have a different perspective. If this is the measuring stick, then I have learned a great deal tonight. For this I cannot thank my five new friends enough.
January 6 – Erfurt, Germany
Tonight, the group had dinner at a local restaurant, the Goldener Schwan. The meal was a large Thuringian bratwurst with a mound of sauerkraut and sauteed potatoes on the side, German mustard accenting the bratwurst. Paired with a German wheat beer, this meal was, in every sense of the word, delicious. Having a German-born father who made German food all the time when I was a child, I was instantly nostalgic (save for, of course, the wheat beer for obvious reasons). This was perhaps the best and most filling German meal I have ever had that wasn’t cooked by my father. More importantly, tonight marked a significant turning point for the group (at least one that I observed). During our time at the dinner table, we have transformed into a group of people who did not know each other very well, some even strangers to others, into a community in fellowship. I am eager and curious for what is to come.
Brendan is a first year student currently traveling with the McCormick Travel Seminar: Europe, exploring famous sites involved in the reformation and European church history.