Project week #5: Amberg

The fifth and final project week of S4T took place in Amberg, Germany. All visitors arrived on Sunday, 17th March 2013, and left on Saturday, 23rd March 2013 (except for the Polish team, who got a better flight on Friday and left in the late afternoon of that day).

Here is the photo gallery of the project week in Amberg.

The following interactive image contains 16 link buttons which become visible when you mouse over the picture. When you hover over one button, a popup text with information about the link will appear. 


Here is the picture movie, containing photographs and very short video clips taken during the week in Amberg; you can switch to full screen (at 720p):


Stay in Amberg: A diary

Sunday, 2013-03-17

The Italian team arrived shortly before eleven; while they were met at the airport and given a tour of Munich centre, the Polish team arrived at half past two, travelled to Amberg by train and was met there. In the evening, the Romanian and Turkish teams arrived at seven and were welcomed by the German team and the Italian team, who had been back from the city by then, so everybody could board the bus to Amberg. The host families picked up their guests, and some people got a particularly warm welcome because they knew their hosts from previous project weeks.

Monday, 2013-03-18

At first, the visiting teams had a quick look at the display of photographs, posters and maps about the project at the entrance and the central hall (Steinerner Gang) of Dr.-Johanna-Decker-Gymnasium. Then their way to the Great Hall (Gerhardinger-Saal) was lined by pupils of all age levels, waving little European flags - which brought on quite a few smiles.
The short welcome ceremony was opened by two songs delivered by the school choir, directed by music teacher Franz Hanauska. In her welcome speech, Headmistress Renate Gammel greeted the guests from the four partner schools and thanked them for their involvement and cooperation.
The local TV station was there as well, doing some small interviews with participants and preparing a report on this occasion.
The students started right away with warm-up exercises, after project coordinator Peter Ringeisen had introduced his colleagues who were to be in charge of the drama workshop in addition to himself, and sometimes exclusively: Winfried Steinl, a retired teacher of German and History, who had taught and directed drama groups for most of his teaching career, including lectureships at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the College of Music and Theatre Rostock; and Anne Schleicher, a former pupil at DJD-Gymnasium, who had since taken a degree at the Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Sciences in Vienna.
The exercises also served the purpose of getting to know each other, losing initial shyness and generally getting a feeling for the potential of this group of energetic, merry young people that we were.
In the middle of the morning, we had a buffet break with lots of delicious snacks prepared by class R9b, of the domestic economy branch of the junior high school that is in the same school building, supervised by teachers Beate Binder and Martina Weigl.
After the break, the teams showed the short scenes they had prepared, containing clichés about their nation. This was very funny, as we realized how well everybody caught various stereotypes, and how great it was that we could all together laugh about these exaggerated portrayals. For example, the Turkish exaggerated their attitude towards hospitality, greeting their guest not just with two, but with ten kisses on both cheeks, and not only offering him food, but actually stuffing it down his throat until he collapsed, although he protested that he was “full” and could “not eat any more”.
At 11 o’clock, we had a reception at the König-Ruprechts-Saal with Deputy District Administrator (Stv. Landrat) Franz Birkl, who welcomed us, showed us a film about the district, and gave us each a nice bag with brochures of the district’s attractions.
And then lunch was waiting for us at the Schloderer-Bräu restaurant, a charming place in the middle of the town, close to the townhall, with a very cosy atmosphere.
After that, we were divided into groups and sent on a “City-Chase” - which meant finding the sights that our three-page plan showed us. We were to identify them and take pictures of them - together with the group. Luckily, all the groups had some German students, so it was not too difficult to find everything.
On our return to the school hall, we had to show some of the photos to prove that we had actually been to the various places: charming little fountains (one of them with four little piglets), impressive churches and some other unusual buildings like “The Town Spectacles”, a bridge which looks like a pair of glasses if you add its reflection in the water to the entire picture.
To conclude this afternoon, coordinator Peter Ringeisen handed out the project week T-shirts, which were quite special because they were designed by a former pupil and member of the theatre group, Steff Rölz, the owner of “sheepworld”, a firm that makes greeting cards and gift items which all feature one (or more) sheep.
At around four o’clock we could go back to our families and relax - and get ready for the big Welcome Party at night.
The Party took place at the Landhotel Aschenbrenner, Paulsdorf, in a big hall, where not only all the students and project teachers were present, but also most of the host families’ parents plus the DJD headmistress and some other DJD teachers as well. All of us had been at one of the other Welcome Parties already, but again it was a fascinating event.
It was great to watch and listen to the performances that all the teams had prepared, beginning with two dances by the German team (choreography: sports teacher Sigrid Ringeisen); a very impressive film about Polish history, followed by a funny and informative discussion of who was the most important - Pope John Paul II., scientist Marie Curie, and composer Frederic Chopin, the three of them being impersonated by the three Polish students; magnificent pictures of Romanian nature and culture, presented in a slide show with fluent English commentary; temperamental and rhythmically exact dances performed by the Turkish students, who wore wonderful costumes and dresses, and were sometimes supported by music teacher Ömer Ebeperi, who sang with them and also played the bağlama beautifully; a moving portrait of Saint Francis of Assisi by the Italian students, who first gave some information about his life, then handed out handsome copies of his famous prayer text, and finally also performed a dance expressing the contents of that text.
At the end, three German girls performed some songs, Katharina Bäumler (keyboard), Marie Siegert (vocals) and Sarina Wagner (vocals) - and they were so convincing that they seemed to cast a spell over the whole audience.
By the way, the food was yummy, too - but that wasn’t the most important aspect of the evening, of course. Oh, one more thing: When we all drove home, some of us saw real snow for the first time … well, there had been some snow flakes in the afternoon already, but now everything was really white, and it was quite a sight.

Tuesday, 2013-03-19

In the morning, we continued with the drama workshop. After warm-up, we used the cliché presentations for parody. Every country got one other country to parody, and we tried to make it easily understandable for the audience and true to the original presentation, too, which was great fun. This part of the drama workshop was in three groups, with coaching by Anne Schleicher, Winni Steinl and Peter Ringeisen.
At 11 o’clock, there was a reception in the townhall with Deputy Mayor Michael Cerny, who welcomed all the teams and showed us round the beautiful old building, explaining what the rooms are used for and then inviting everybody to write their names into the visitors’ book (“Goldenes Buch”) of the City.
After lunch at Schloderer-Bräu, we took a bus to Nuremberg, where we had a guided tour in three groups, starting from the Imperial Castle. The guides were really good, they spoke excellent English and explained everything really well, for example what was special about the walls of the castle. From there, we went past the house where famous painter Albrecht Dürer lived (with a funny modern sculpture in front of it), and to Our Lady’s Church (Frauenkirche) and the “Beautiful Fountain”.
Then there was some time left to explore the city on our own and have a look at other sights and shops. Unfortunately we had to rush into a café or a department store soon, because it started to pour with rain - but after half an hour, the sun was shining again.
In the evening, we were free to spend time together. This was great, because all of us got together again and we went to a Chinese restaurant. We got to know each other better and better, and soon we were able to talk about all sorts of topics. Sometimes, vocabulary was a problem, but we learned how to paraphrase and also use gestures to make ourselves understood.


Wednesday, 2013-03-20

Part three of the drama workshop was already waiting for us, this time with a plan written down on a flip chart. Anne and Winni carefully (and patiently) explained to us, what they had planned for the development of the scene. The parodies were the beginning of our performance, introduced by a funny little speech in everybody’s national language. Then these parodies give rise to tensions and all the players get tied up in a knot - we had to practise this quite a few times until it looked like it was supposed to. Then the knot dissolves, and we realize that we are all “equal”. - In order to express that, we practiced saying the first sentence of the Universal Declaration of Rights (UN) - in chorus, and distributed across five mixed groups.
Then, having put aside national differences, we address the differences between men and women, and the girls parody the walk of men (swaggering, or walking like heros in a western movie),  the boys hit back by parodying how women walk (at fashion shows or casting shows, for example).
What finally brings about harmony is a dance that everybody can join in: Our version of a “Harlem Shake” - sooo funny, how Ugur Can starts (wearing Winni’s motorbike helmet), how later two boys (an Italian and a Turkish guy) walk on their hands, and at the end everybody jumps down from the stage to continue the dance in the aisle between the rows of audience seats … We were already looking forward to the performance!
After lunch at Schloderer-Bräu, there was free time for the students - the German girls had asked for a free afternoon because they wanted time for all us getting to know each other better, and it was a great idea. We all went to a bowling alley together, enjoying the game and each other’s company, and everybody now talked to everybody else - all prejudices were forgotten.

Thursday, 2013-03-21
Thursday was very drama-intensive. Anne and Winni had written some more flip chart pages, and they explained everything in great detail again. Sometimes we thought this was a little exaggerated - but in the end we realized it was really necessary. Everything had to be precise, otherwise most of the effect would have disappeared.
So we spent all morning and the first half of the afternoon practicing and rehearsing. Then we had some time off again, before we came back to the school for the performance.
When we saw how many people there were in the audience, we were quite surprised. More than two hundred people had come to see our performance: the parents of the host families and also from the parents’ council, almost thirty DJD teachers, and quite a few pupils and friends of the German team; headmistress Renate Gammel was present, and even the Turkish Vice Consul from Nuremberg, Mustafa Uludüz.
The performance started with a presentation prepared by the German team: All the project weeks - Poland, Turkey, Romania, Italy - were described and pictures were projected onto a big screen (a Prezi presentation). The German students took turns speaking English and German, so that all parents could understand what was being said. It was nice to see those project weeks again and to feel they were appreciated. We all enjoyed that - especially the parts about the week in our country.
Then we played the scenes we had been rehearsing since Monday - and everything worked out just fine. We enjoyed it, the audience loved it, and we got a great, long applause at the end.
We still talked about it during the festive dinner which followed - again at the Schloderer-Bräu restaurant, and again really tasty.

Friday, 2013-03-22

We didn’t have to get up as early as usual on Friday, because we had the whole day for our excursion to Regensburg. In Stadtamhof, a part of the city just north of the River Danube, we were expected by three of the DJDG teachers, who all live in Regensburg: Bernd Ackermann, Georg Luft und Michael Rösch. We split into three groups, and then they took us on a very personalized route through the famous parts of their city. Some of the highlights were: The Stone Bridge (a 12th-century bridge across the Danube linking the Old Town with Stadtamhof); Germany’s most ancient stone building, the Porta Praetoria (a gateway dating from 179 A. D.); and Regensburg Cathedral (Dom St. Peter), the “finest Gothic building in Bavaria”, as many guidebooks call it (built in the 1300s).
The walking tours made us hungry, so we were glad to get good lunch at “Weltenburger am Dom” restaurant. Afterwards there was free time to explore the city in small groups.
At half past three, the time had come to take leave of the Polish team, because they had booked a more convenient flight for them on that day. So we all said goodbye to them, and some of us accompanied the to the station. Lots of tears were shed … what would the next day be like when we would have to wave goodbye to everybody else?
On our return from Regensburg, we were free to spend the evening as we wanted. So we met again and had our farewell party, which was organised by some German pupils.

Saturday, 2013-03-23

As we had expected, the farewell in the morning was tearful. We were all sad that the wonderful project week had come to an end and that we had to part - now that we had got to know each other quite well and become friends.
But, well, there was no avoiding it. We are still keeping contact via the Internet, we have our photos, and we have the project blog to keep our memories fresh. The Comenius project “Spotlights for Tolerance” will be something to remain in our hearts for a long, long time.


Individual voices

Getting to know guys of different cultures taught me to appreciate the others without judging by appearances and now I feel more European.
(Alessandro, Italy)

Since the day we met, we all immediately became like brothers and sisters, regardless of our differences.
(Evelin, Italy)

That was one of the best trips in my life.
(Przemek, Poland)

I met many wonderful people. I will never forget how they taught us words of their language, and we taught them the basic phrases in Polish.
(Miłosz, Poland)

I understood how important speaking a language is.
(Feyza, Turkey)

I learned that prejudice is a bad thing.
(Ömer, Turkey)

I liked the drama workshops, they were really interesting. I also enjoyed the trips to Nurnberg and Regensburg. The thing I enjoyed most was the friendly atmosphere and the great memories we share.
(Ana, Romania)

Our hosts were friendly and kind and this was really important. The schedule and the activities were really interesting and the whole organization was a success.
(Radu, Romania)

This project helped me to learn to be more outgoing with other people. We saw how they behaved, that they’re all kind and that we needn’t be afraid of others.
(Anna-Maria, Germany)

I think the project showed very well that the young people from the other countries think in the same way we do and like the same things and that’s the most important the project showed to me.
(Kristin, Germany)

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