Leipzig Blog 7 – Triumphant at the Top

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Throughout the strenuous climb up the narrow, winding staircase that led to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal’s roof, I kept asking myself one question over and over again: when will I reach the top? Panting, reluctantly dragging my feet onto the next steps, and realizing that my lack of exercise had corroded my once resilient stamina, I noticed that my dormant fear of narrow, closed spaces was also starting to kick in. Great, I thought. It is just what I needed. I struggled hard to push those feelings of discomfort aside and focused my mind on ascending the seemingly never-ending flight of stairs. Occasionally, I would glance at or engage in conversation with the rest of my history group members to see if at least they were faring better than I was. Apparently not. The climb seemed to be equally taxing for them as well. However, none of that seemed to dampen our spirits. We reminded ourselves of what we had learned before embarking on this journey: ethical and sound reporting that results in an effective, riveting, and informative story requires unabated dedication and commitment. In my case, it was also my love for capturing panoramic views and landscapes, which overrode the concerns that I had regarding my incipient claustrophobia.


Upon reaching the monument’s summit, I gazed at the breathtaking panoramic view of Leipzig and realized that the climb was totally worth it. As my group members reassembled to share initial reactions and views, brainstorm ideas for the upcoming story we were working towards, and to take photographs, I noticed that each one of us would periodically drift off into silence while gazing at the landscape from a different angle. Incidentally, the four history group members were also the “informal tour guides” for the day so it was our responsibility to provide information, field questions, and make the trip worthwhile for the cohort and for ourselves so that we could collect good material for our story. A rigorous library research session the previous evening on the monument’s background, significance, dimensions, design, designer, present day perceptions, and relevance in terms of tourism and cultural identity promotion had greatly helped us in building a solid basic knowledge base regarding the monument, which not only helped us in our roles as “informal tour guides” but also as reporters working on the monument’s story. We shared this basic knowledge with the rest of our cohort and while doing so, each group member seemed confident and akin to a Völkerschlachtdenkmal expert!


Moreover, the resultant exhilaration, feelings of triumph, and sense of achievement that all four of us felt as a group after reaching the monument’s summit encouraged positive thinking in us and brought us together. It was the first major task that we had accomplished as a group. Perhaps the Völkerschlachtdenkmal was our Everest: if we could accomplish this then we could accomplish anything! As we took charge of the field trip amidst improved group dynamics, unmitigated exchange of story ideas, and incessant camera clicks, my group members and I seemed to have just one last thing to worry about: the long and claustrophobic climb back down.


– Rudaba Nasir