Holloway N Hannover: Blog #2
Oct. 20, 2009
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A FREE RIDE
It's been about three weeks since my last post, and since then, I have been able to visit several schools where I teach youth how to play basketball. One school I go to on a regular basis is interesting because it's like I am the P.E. teacher. In American schools, junior high kids take the classes the school runs the curriculum. Here the students can pick whatever activity they want. So my class is full of eager students who want to play basketball, but have very minimal skills. It's tough to communicate with the kids because they are just reaching the grade level where they are introduced to English, so wherever their basketball skill level is, their English level is below that. Despite the difficulty in communicating, the kids have been learning something from me, so I realize how basketball is universal and how it's a tool that can break language barriers.
Not knowing the language has definitely been a problem. For example, the journey I took to get to the school was interesting. I was given instructions to take a train, but of course every sign is in German. I have ridden on the train before, but I had never gone without my German teammates. So as I was riding the train, a security guy came up to me and started asking me questions as if I was violating the law. I acted like I was listening, but I continued to listen to my iPod because he couldn't tell I had my headphones in. So realizing that he wasn't going to stop talking, I took one headphone out and acted like I was a tourist. This made him even more upset and furious. The only thing I understood was the word "ticket" and then it dawned on me that my teammate did mention to me that you have to buy a ticket for the train and if they catch you without one, you have to pay 40 Euros. Each time I have rode on the train, we never bought a ticket so I didn't know what to do. I thought I was going to German jail. So the guy talked some more, but the only thing he said that I clearly could understand was "get off." He signaled to another guy that was further down the train and I was escorted to him. I figured that if he asked me anything that I would just play like I didn't understand anything they were saying and that everything was cool.
When the guy walked up to me he was speaking in German and I replied, "I don't know what you are talking about." To my surprise, he also spoke English. Now that we could communicate, I decided to play dumb and do what any regular American would do when they are about to get a ticket and that is, act like I didn't know that I was breaking the law. After multiple questions, I was able to escape with a warning and free train ride. Since then, when I have ridden the train, I have bought a ticket every time. But, that has been the only time the language barrier actually worked in my favor.
A few weeks later, as some of you might know, Anthony Slack joined my team. On his second day in Germany, we were invited to meet the mayor of Hannover. I think it was a formal banquet because people were dressed up and there was a lot of fancy food. I didn't know what a single dish was called, but I was glad to finally have some shrimp for the first time since I have been in Germany. I was also able to drink a mimosa for the first time in my life, which is champagne mixed with orange juice, but I only had a few of those. LOL
Until next time, Go You Redbirds!
Former Illinois State men's basketball player Emmanuel Holloway is in his first season playing professional basketball in Europe. He is playing for the UBC Hannover Tigers in the Germany-Pro A League. Holloway will providing GoRedbirds.com an exclusive look at international basketball, and the adjustments an American player has to make in a foreign land.