Learning German vs. The reality of having to speak in person

What I learned about myself and the progress that I’ve made in speaking, reading, and writing in German will keep amazing me. As soon as the group made it to Germany I had the instant urge to start speaking in German to see what I do know and what not. At first, it was a very clumsy process. When speaking for the first time to a native German speaker I stumbled through sentences because speaking in real life is different from filling out answer sheets of what the correct words were. It was extremely embarrassing and I would eventually ask the person if they could switch back to English for me. I felt defeated, to say the least, at that moment I couldn’t speak German at all and was extremely flustered in front of this random person. I thought to myself that after three years I learned nothing and my education, testing, and pride of trying another language had gone down the drain. Even though it was an embarrassing experience I wanted to try again and wasn’t going to give up so easily. I knew in my head that I knew German and that I enjoy learning the language and the culture, so I tried again. I kept trying and trying until I could rehearse basic sentences or responses out and I focused on my accent and honing that into a somewhat understandable accent. As I kept trying, I began to see improvements in how people talked to me and their body language. The people’s faces began to twist from confused and bewildered to neutral and content. As I began to become more comfortable speaking German, I also started speaking German when store clerks insisted on answering in English. To me, this is the funniest experience I encountered. I refused to speak in English, and the store clerks refused to speak in German, so we would have a short dialogue in different languages but still understand each other. As I became comfortable speaking the language with others I noticed what I didn’t really know about. When I get back home, I’ll take a personal study on medicine and how to read the prescription and what it’s saying. Overall, I’m happy with my experience speaking German in Germany and now I know what I should study to further my knowledge of the German language and culture.


By Cleo Yarber

The Fabric District in Paris, France

An interesting thing about Paris is that the fabric district of the city is more accessible than fabric stores in America. The fabric stores that are near my residence in Cleveland require access to a car because they’re 30 minutes from my house and the products are expensive for no particular reason. I have immense anxiety about driving and the only choices I have are Micheals or Joann fabrics anyway. In Paris it was very eye opening to how many fabrics and sewing notion stores there were. The first store I went to had four floors that had a variety of items that I could buy and showed the affordable fabrics section and the more expensive fabric selection was in the back of the floor. There was also an elevator for people who needed assistance getting to different floors and workers readily available to help customers. There is a huge selection of shops, so if I didn’t like one I could go to the next.


In my hometown, the Michaels and Joanns stores are short staffed and the isles are confusing and assistance is needed to find things in the stores. It’s very hard to get assistance when you need to find a certain fabric or sewing notion and the store is understaffed and full of customers. In the general area of the stores, the buildings are falling apart or are vacant waiting to be used due to the mall losing popularity and revenue. There also aren’t restaurants around, and is surrounded by fast food and hardware stores. This wouldn’t be a place to take my friends or to hang out in because the area looks dilapidated and unappealing to the eye. There are lessons to be learned by observing how transportation affects Europe and how it affects areas as densely populated as Paris. It’s also great for the community to have more opportunities to engage in hobbies instead of forcing them to choose between two stores, or to just shop online. It would also bring more revenue to the area if there were beautiful restaurants established in these areas or parks and places to congregate. This is why the fabric district of Paris was more appealing than what is in my local area of Ohio. The fabrics that I encountered in the store were more eye-catching and unique compared to the fabrics I usually see in America. I wish that American fabric shops provided more diverse and beautiful selections of fabrics for consumers.


The Mass Production of Volunteer Uniforms in Great Britain During the Second World War by Cleo Yarber

The most amusing exhibitions at the Imperial War Museum were the different service uniforms and how their position and objective changed the production and construction of the garment. The museum display is incredible and the uniforms are close enough to the glass where you can see the fibers in the clothing. There are several things to take into account when creating garments on a large scale: “What volunteer position was it going to be”, “How much the fabric would cost to mass produce these uniforms”, “What are the sizes?”, and later on in the war “how does rationing affect the production”. For what type of position, the type of fabric used is extremely important because if the volunteer position is to put out fires or is in proximity with fire then wool is the smartest choice because it’s naturally fire retardant. The “how much fabric” question would be dependent on the producer the government consults with to see how much they can produce on a mass scale and what types of fabric they have. The producer will also set the price on how much fabric is used per garment and what that will cost the government if they make a certain amount of uniforms. For the sizing aspect, there must have been a size that the producer would use and people would have to hope that they were fit, or they would consult a tailor if the garment was too big or make their own if it was too small. Later in the war, rationing would be more strenuous on the people of London, so this would affect the production and quality of the civil service uniforms. 

Learning the process for the production of uniforms is important in seeing where items are produced, the ethics of the production of the uniforms, how the government plays a role in the regulation of chemicals and fibers, and how the regulation of certain textiles and materials during war time affected the process of creating uniforms. Today, Consumers are also informed how their modern day garments are regulated by country and how resources are available or limited to producers to make a particular item. Modern day fabrics are now regulated by Chemical, ethical, and environmental expectations that are followed by modern day producers. They’re expected to be truthful about their product and what type of resources, textiles, and chemical finishes that they use. In the images listed below to the left, is the uniform for the AFS forces, who spotted and put out fires. Both the second and third pictures are dedicated to the ARP standard uniforms that had the role of warning citizens and protecting them from air raids. The last photo is dedicated towards James Crawford and his uniform, what it would look like with the different fabrics and the uniforms, and his service during wartime. James Crawford was a veteran of the first World War who volunteered for the home guard position in the second World War. The museum presents each uniform with a placard of what position used the uniforms and has a personal story of the people who volunteered in each position.