World Travels, Year Two: A Weekend in Germany

We kicked off this school year’s Girls’ Club with a trip to Germany. Two of my club “grads” took us through a slideshow presentation of fun facts about Germany. (Did you know that there are over 300 different kinds of German bread? And about a thousand five hundred different kinds of beer??) 

They also taught us how to make lemon-poppyseed cookies. It was very gratifying to see how much time and effort these two girls put into their presentation, and how they were able to get their “students” to work as a team…all the more because this month we broke a girls’ club attendance record: fifteen girls in all!

There was plenty of opportunity to practice perseverance while zesting these ten lemons to make the lemon-poppyseed cookies.

We also talked about the virtue of perseverance: that quality which makes us work towards a goal, despite the obstacles and difficulties which inevitably crop up along the way. Interestingly enough, part of perseverance means knowing when to quit…because sometimes there is a fine line between perserverance and pigheadedness.

An example from a real-life story makes this point clear. In 1936, two young German mountain climbers attempted to climb the previously unconquered North Face of the Eiger, a peak in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. Hot on their heels are a pair of Austrian climbers. An accident incapacitates one of the Austrians, and the competitors suddenly find themsleves transformed into a team with a heart-wrenching decision to make: press on to the summit, or turn back so that the injured man can get medical help.

You can watch the whole drama unfold in a recent movie called Duel au Sommet (The North Face is the English title). Watch it on the biggest screen you can find, to appreciate the breathtaking shots of the Alps and of the Eiger’s sheer, unforgiving face, all black stone and white snow. The human aspect of the movie is likewise larger than life: the courage and daring of the climbers, the deep friendship and loyalty between the two Germans, and the devotion and hope of their friend Luise, a photojournalist who accompanies every step of their ascent in spirit, like a tenacious guardian angel. Every scene demonstrates perseverance in action.

Unfortunately it’s not the Eiger: it’s the Squamish Rock here in BC, but it does look a little bit like the Swiss mountain.

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