Exchange postcard

Trip to Berlin, a global city

My name is Frederick Zalloua and I am on a teaching exchange in Berlin, Germany. Berlin is the capital and the largest city of Germany with a population of approximately 3.7 million. Located in north eastern Germany on the banks of the rivers Spree and Havel, it is the centre of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which has roughly 6 million residents from more than 180 nations. Around two thirds of the city’s area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers, canals and lakes, which makes it a great place for families. Berlin was the most heavily bombed city in history. The Allies dropped 67,607 tons of bombs on Berlin during World War II, destroying 6427 acres of its built up area. So for history teachers it is a must see place.

Now, Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media and science. Modern Berlin is home to world renowned universities, orchestras, museums, entertainment venues and is host to many sporting events. The city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts and a living. Since the 2000s, Berlin has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene.

We certainly made the most of Europe’s diverse and beautiful cities, landscape and diversity.

So, this is where I am with my family, my wife Laura who was born and raised in Berlin and two young boys Leon, who is six, and Noah who recently turned four. I am teaching at Berlin-Brandenburg International School in the suburb of Kleinmachnow, Brandenburg, but live in Berlin.

Berlin Brandenburg International School (BBIS) is an IB World School. BBIS is home to 700 students, 99 teachers, and 20 assistants. As a PE/sports teacher the facilities are world class, it has a full sized artificial turf sports/football field with a six lane running track. Outdoor facilities also include beach volleyball court, basketball court and facilities for track and field. The sports hall has plenty of seating for spectators and a fitness room. The hall is fully equipped for basketball, volleyball, handball, indoor soccer, gymnastics and tennis.

I have had a wonderful time teaching Grade 6-10 PE, which is part of the middle years program. I have developed my teaching significantly particularly as I had not taught Grade 6 and 7 for some years. Additionally, I have learnt a great deal having worked with a very experienced and diverse range of PE teachers. The PE staff were fantastic and supportive throughout, they really made the exchange one to savour.

I also had the privilege of coaching and being involved in a variety of sporting teams including varsity boys football and basketball as well as athletics. For football, I took the team away to Nürnberg Germany and Zurich, Switzerland. As for basketball, I enjoyed a trip to Dresden, Germany and Barcelona, Spain. All trips were fantastic, allowing me to further develop my coaching while also travelling and enjoying the sights of Germany and abroad.

Further to the travel, I was fortunate to go to Vienna, Austria for an International Schools PE teachers’ conference with over 100 teachers from across the world and went on a trip to Lisbon, Portugal to participate in the European Sports Conference AGM.

As far as my family goes, my wife Laura has been a woman of leisure taking the opportunity to catch up with friends and family, while regularly jogging in the forest, her favoured recreational activity. Leon and Noah have had an experience to remember having had the opportunity to be enrolled in the Early Elementary School at BBIS. My boys have had some wonderful experiences being a part of musicals, going out into the forest for expeditions and learning some new skills in PE. Most significantly, the boys are now fluent in German, which was one of the main goals for them and strengthened their support for ‘Die Mannschaft (German football team)’.

The highlights, for the family, was most definitely our summer vacation in Greece, enjoying the great weather, beaches, food and company of some old friends. In the European winter, we travelled across Germany into The Netherlands and then down into Belgium. Therefore, we certainly made the most of Europe’s diverse and beautiful cities, landscape and diversity.

So as I wrap up my year, I managed to bring in Jerome Boateng multiple Bundesliga winner, Champions League and World Cup winner. Not only is Jerome a world class footballer but he is also super cool and easy to chat to as was evident when I interviewed him in front of staff, students and parents at the school. He related to the students really well and was able to share some great stories and tips on how to make it to the top in the world game. I did ask him about Sydney and it was definitely on the list of travel destinations. Getting in Jerome to BBIS was a great way that I could say thanks to the whole BBIS community for making my teacher exchange a most wonderful experience!

Frederick Zalloua
PE teacher, St Charbel’s College, Punchbowl, on exchange at Berlin Brandenburg International School