I've been here just over six days; it feels like longer. The last few days have involved meeting after meeting, information booklet after information booklet followed by long (if necessary) explanations of what I am to do. We had our first Teamanbesprechung on Tuesday, where I met my new colleagues at the Versöhnungskirche. All of them are extremely friendly and, thankfully, speak at a speed I can just about cope with! As it was Irina's birthday, we had cake and sparkling wine to celebrate, which isn't a bad way to start work.
There was a moment when, slightly tipsy on my third glass of wine, I walked outside and suddenly remembered I'm working at a Memorial Site. I have a feeling I'm going to have more of these moments.
Yesterday I had my first day of work at the Gedächtnisbuch (Book of Memories) project, where we discussed possible projects and avenues of work for the year. My work will most probably comprise of compiling a biography of a survivor, as well as attempting to find places in the UK that would like to host the exhibition. My first feeling when we left the office three hours later was one, I admit, of panic. Here I was about to start work in which I would probably have trouble in English, let alone in a language in which I still find it hard to communicate. All will come in time, I'm sure, though it doesn't make the work any less intimidating.
Today we were taken round the memorial site for the first time. I have already wandered among the concrete rectangles that represent the now demolished barracks, but had spent most of that time looking at how other people act on the site. There are tour groups, mostly English, discussing various aspects of the camp's life from 1933-45. There are Americans in baseball caps and checked shirts chatting to their group leaders. There are tourists posing for photos in front of the famous 'ARBEIT MACHT FREI' gates at the Jourhaus. Right now I'm more facinated by these people than judgemental. I have no idea how to act in a place where 41,500 people died; it's a question I hope to understand better as the year goes on. I'll tell you more about the tour in a couple of days, when I've had time to digest it.