Last summer our daughter went to the MMLA German Language Camp for high school students at Green Mountain College in Poultney VT. In the dorm there was a floor for boys and a floor for girls. This one was for the girls. There aren’t actually many Germans in Vermont, but they did their best to dress it up.
I’m sharing this door in part because it’s such a contrast with doors in Germany, such as this one, from our trip this past summer. There are no pretty colors, no detail, no particular history to this door. In fact, if not for the hand-lettered sign and the construction-paper flags from non-Germany German-speaking countries, this door would be pretty boring and institutional.
But this camp was more than its door. Our daughter learned a lot and had fun here, more so than she did at a different camp in Germany the following summer. One reason was that the MMLA camps require students to take a language pledge and only speak the target language the entire time they are there. The camp in Germany had no such pledge, and as a result there was more English spoken at that camp than there was here in the US.
I speculate that another reason this camp was successful was its very amateurism: all the students, even complete beginners, participated in putting together the atmosphere of the target language and country within the camp. You weren’t really in Germany, or Austria, or Switzerland, but you had to use your imagination to pretend you were.