CLARKS SUMMIT — Every second Thursday of the month, people inside the Ryon Room of the Abington Community Library travel with their minds as they watch a “melting pot” of presentations about a different country. Ilona Pohl, facilitator of the program of exploration through reading, presentations and discussion, calls it “Cultures Around the World.”
“The idea is to hear the variety of the world’s cultures,” Pohl said. “Enjoy, share, explore and converse about the world.”
Quoting the Renaissance artist Michelangelo, she added, “’To know each other is the best way to understand each other. To understand each other is the best way to know each other.’”
The first country represented on March 8 was Pohl’s native country of Germany. She invited grad student Lea Gorski, who resides in Germany but is currently attending The University of Scranton for a year on a Fulbright scholarship where she also teaches German. Her presentation was called Deutschland and she shared geographical facts about her home country.
“You can see that Germany is pretty much at the heart of Europe,” Gorski said. “We Germans like to say that. We actually share nine borders with our neighboring countries.”
Gorski also revealed that Germany is the size of Montana and three times the size of Pennsylvania. She also shared facts about her hometown of Aachen.
“It’s the most western city in Germany,” she said. “It was the capital of Middle Ages due to Charlemagne.”
Gorski added that Charlemagne ruled in Aachen and bathed in its sulfuric waters to heal his rheumatism. She also showed Aachen’s popular monuments such as Aachen Dom (cathedral, Markplatz (marketplace), Elisenbrunnen (Elisa fountain) and the Dreilanderech, where Germany borders with the Netherlands and Belgium. She showed a photo of dogs standing on each border.
Gorski also debunked the stereotype that all German men wear lederhosen and women wear dirndl, explaining these types of attire are worn in the south of Germany. She agreed to the fact that Germans love their beers and said there are over 5,000 varieties of German beer. She also mentioned that, although Germans may love meat and potatoes, they also love pasta.
Gorski compared customs of Germany to those im the United States. She reported Germany has more means of recycling, public transportation and free education but the United States is better at providing free restrooms, free refills and friendliness.
Guests of the presentation answered questions based on Gorski’s presentation and Gorski rewarded those who provided correct answers with candy from Germany. The guests also tasted German foods, such as German cheese, marzipan, seven-grain bread, and beer brought to the library by Pohl. One of the guests, Uta Dreher, a native of East Germany, enjoyed the presentation about the country of her birthplace.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s good different countries know each other. All countries have different ways of making life better. If people keep exchanging ideas, we would be helping peace.”
“Every country can learn about every other country,” Gorski said. “You can learn about what your own country’s good at, and what they can improve on from other countries.”
“Cultures Around the World” will continue next month with a presentation about the country of Morocco.