... or...

... how participation in an online virtual community has impacted one teacher's understanding of history, and how that has been reflected in actual classroom instruction.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

17 January 2013: Developing Character, Part 1

A visit to Der Keller.
After arriving at Teleportplatz and making sure I was properly attired, I found my way to the Bahnhof, got on the train (which is tricky at first), and got off at the other end.  You arrive at Alexanderplatz, in the midst of a very busy commercial district.  Like I usually do at new sims, I wandered around... but the sim was so huge, and like the RL cities in Germany that I got to know when I lived there, it was confusing and before long, I was lost.

In RL, I grew up outside of Chicago, which was rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire with streets that run north-south and east-west, with a few intersecting diagonal avenues.  (This is why it's known as the "Windy City," because the east-west streets funnel the air and accelerate its speed!)  But European cities developed over time, so they don't have the advantage of being able to have straight lines for streets.  Wiesbaden, for example, has two "Rings" which are what is left of the old defensive walls that surrounded the city in its past.  So I wasn't shocked that I got lost.  It was just disorienting...

... until I met one of the prominent business owners of the 1920s Berlin Project, who gave me a guided tour of the sim.  Berliners are a friendly group, and we all remember what it was like to get lost, to not know anyone, and especially how confusing things can be if you are new to SL in general.  I've given my share of tours to new arrivals as well; it's just part of the etiquette in Berlin.  I have to say that it took many, many visits to totally figure out where things were, but I did get a good start.  I was guided past the church, into the bakery, down alleys, up side streets, past the barracks, across from the movie theater, around the corner from a somewhat mysterious place called the "Eldorado"... and I was introduced to the heart of the sim:  Der Keller.
Der Keller is a neighborhood Bierstube where regulars gather
in the evenings after work -- if you have work -- for drinking, dancing,
gossiping, conversation, the occastional political argument...
It wasn't until after finding my way around at my next visit, I was able to actually make it to one of the daily "Happy Hours" at the Keller.  Each day at 2pm SLT,* Berliners gather in this little place in the working class section of town to do what Berliners do best.  We become a community.

Think of the old television program "Cheers."  The Keller is a lot like that.  It's located in the lower level of an old apartment block (hence the name "Der Keller") across the street from the KPD headquarters and a burned-out frame of a house.  In essence, it's a bar.  But it's also an example of a staple of Berlin neighborhoods of the time.  If you read books by Christopher Isherwood or Joseph Roth (which we will talk about in a future post), they will talk about how these places functioned.  It was rather like the English pub, which is where you would find people if they weren't at home in the evening. 

And although Berliners are friendly, like with any group of people who are familiar with each other, it takes time to get to know them... and in a role play, it's even more of a challenge for them to get to know you in return!


*Second Life is based in San Francisco, so the times there (known as Second Life Time, or SLT) is set at whatever time it is on the west coast of the United States.  For me, this means "Happy Hour" begins at the very convenient time of 5pm Eastern.

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