Jonas Lähnemann
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Letter after returning to Germany (September 2002)

Dear friends,

it's been four weeks now that I returned to Germany from Israel. It's been a busy time of meeting friends and getting stuff organized.

The last weeks in Israel were dominated by farewell from friends, the students and staff at my school, the old people I worked with, etc. However I still spent some time in summer camps with my students and joined activities of Israeli peace groups, over which I had met many interesting people.
On the 20th of August I got to Ben Gurion airport early in the morning - three hours before my flight left. The security helped me to let the time pass quickly, as they checked me for almost one and a half hours. After standing in several lines my bags were X-Rayed carefully and from this they decided to check my two biggest bags and the things they wanted to see were pretty far down, so that everything was taken out. In my backpack a big calender and my chess board seemes to be the most suspicious objects. In the other bag I had a photograph of the lighthouse in Akko into which I had inserted an electric light. These electrics caused them to start to evacuate the surroundings for a short time. At least I didn't get bored waiting for the plane. My handbags were checked two more times, but not as intensely. They asked me to take a not sharp knife out of the handluggage, whereas a fork was no problem.
In Berlin I was picked up by my grandfather. My father and brother later came by car, as the train line to Magdeburg had been closed due to the flood danger surrounding Magdeburg at that time. Our house lies in the endangered part and the family had prepard by building walls in front of the lower doors and basement-windows. All the furniture was in the upper stories. So I came into a totally messy house, but luckily all the preventory measures were unnecessary. The first days back home I spent cleaning up the house and returning everything to it's place. Afterwards I started to sort my own stuff - what I brought from Israel, especially all my photographs and everything else was still in boxes, as my parents had moved in spring. This is now almost done. I also went to take my brother to the airport as he is now staying in the US for a year and I visited lectures from people from Israel (most of which I knew from Israel) in Magdeburg, Berlin and Halle.
At the end of the week I will go to Berlin to register for physics studies. However, I won't move to Berlin until the semster starts in mid October. I will first live with my grandparents and then I will look for flat together with Johannes, a flat-mate from Israel. First I will travel around for about ten days. Next week I'll leave with a few friends, and afterwards I want to visit several people in different places of Southern Germany and I will join a seminar of German, Polish and Israeli students which my mom organizes where I will talk about my experience in Israel. These students went to Auschwitz together and now they will meet to summerize their trip and to talk a bit about the Middle-Eastern conflict.

The time in Israel was a very intense time for me. I learned more than in many years of school. On the one hand there was my work with handicapped children and old people. I very much enjoyed this, but I always knew that it was a one time thing and that I will study something else. However, I will always remember this time. Then there were all the activities in my spare time. In the beginning mainly getting to know the country together with other German volunteers. Later I had several Israeli friends and contacts to Israeli peace groups. Living in the tense situation was not always easy, but I also learned a lot from it and through the peace groups I also tried to see something from the other the Palestinian side of the conflict.

Yours,
Jonas

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