Whom am I going to host? Does my partner also like rap music? Is my foreign friend willing to eat vegetarian food? These questions normally arise when the students get to know that they will take part in the exchange project. To find a fitting partner without really knowing all the students is a rather impossible task for the project coordinators. Therefore the teachers regularly request some written written application forms from the participants.
But what information should these documents include?
Allergies and aversions
The most important question is about animal allergies. You can’t match a student who is allergic to cats with a cat lover’s household even if the children would otherwise be a perfect match. That’s why we not only ask for all allergies but also for aversions for dogs, cats or other pets.
The Robert-Bosch-Fundation is a big supporter of our exchange project. Their “German-Indian Classroom” project was actually the initiator of the long lasting partnership of Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium and Lotus Valley International School. In a newly published review the Fundation looks back on many years of successful project work.
The publication not only summarises the many exchanges the Fundation supported but also makes available many hints and tricks for schools which consider whether to start a new intercultural partnership.
Our German-Indian exchange project is mentioned in the publication
on page 30 the former principal of Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium gives an interview in which among others he explains how a project orientated exchange can be integrated into school life.
on page 65 Wolfgang Pöschl the project coordinator of Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium summarises in a small article called “After the project is before the project” how one of our project topics about Krishna and Jesus Christ was developed.
on page 98 our intercultural dance is mentioned. The renowned Kathak dancer Hemant Kumar Kalita choreographed a German-Indian dance “beyond borders” which was televised nation-wide.
on page 101 the student of LVIS Nikhila Kalia informs us about her plans for the future. She wants to study in Munich, Germany. We whish her all the best.
But we recommend not only to read these few pages of the over 100 pages long brochure. Everybody who is in charge of or wants to establish an international exchange should browse through that publication.
Despite we don’t celebrate your beautiful festival of lights here in Germany we want to wish you a happy Holi! You read correctly: Here in Germany unfortunately only few people celebrate Holi. And when they do, they don’t know the background of the festival and just throw colours at each other while listening to loud music.
Holi, as it is known in India, is a huge festival to praise the defeat of the cold winter by the warmer seasons. It’s the defeat of the bad by the good. And many myths explain the religious roots of that festival:
One myth is the story of Vishnu in his inkarnation of Narashima. When you read his story you get to know the reason why bonfires are lit at Holika Dahan. And when you explore the stories of Krishna and Radha you will get some good explanations why so much bright colours is used during Holi.
But whatever explanation you like most, whatever reason you have to celebrate, we would be happy to get to know your experiences with Holi. How do you celebrate it? What is the most fun part? And is there anything on Holi you don’t like? Please drop a comment and tell us!
What is it like to belief into Hinduism? Who is Shiva, Rama or Lakshmi? How do you perform a Puja or how do you have to behave when entering a temple?
Many teachers of the religious education department of the Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium had been thinking over these questions over and over since the teacher of Lotus Valley International School Ms Radhika Babbar had given a short lesson about Hinduism during her last stay in Germany. Today Mr Wolfgang Poeschl who visited India several times and got to know the Indian way of religious life tried to answer some of these questions during a teachers’ workshop.
For this workshop he prepared a room and built a small house temple. He also prepared Halwa to have proper Prasad and invited all the teachers of the department for religious education to join him for a proper Puja. During two and a half hours he tried to explain the major concepts of Dharma, Karma or Mukti and even taught them to sing the Gaiatry Mantra.
The teachers already know quite a lot about Hinduism because of their lectures about world religions during university time and that’s why a quite sophisticated dispute about similarities and differences between Hinduism and Christianity arose. Beside moderating the discussion Mr Poeschl also showed them a lot of pictures and videos of modern religious life in India.
The workshop was such a big success that the Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium will make a small exhibition about Indian religions during its open day in March.
If you have any hints what they should display and what they mustn’t forget to mention please leave a comment.
In addition: In the meantime the Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium published its own article about the workshop on the school’s homepage. The article is in German only.
It’s Christmas time! Here at Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium we only have two days of school left until our Christmas holiday starts and we are all looking forward to meeting many relatives and all family members and to having some not too busy days off.
Christmas is one of the most important days in Christianity and that’s why all our houses are already decorated with candles, window stickers or special Christmas table cloths. We also have many traditions which are all related to Christmas:
Children are counting the days to Christmas eve by opening doors at their “Adventskalender”. This is a kind of framed picture where you can find the numbers from 1 to 24 printed on it. Starting with December 1st each day you are allowed to open one small door placed right under the fitting number. And mostly you will find some piece of chocolate that will sweeten the waiting till Christmas.
The 4 Sundays before Christmas we light a candle at our “Adventskranz”. The “Adventskranz” is a wreath made from branches of fir trees and which is decorated with dried orange-slices, wooden ornaments or some other accessories. The most important parts are the four candles. Four weeks before Christmas we are allowed to light the first candle; the second can be lit in the second week and right before Christmas all four candles are burning happily. In addition we sing special Christmas songs while lighting the candles.
And at Christmas eve? Most of the families have their own tradition how to celebrate this special day. Going to service at night, a locked room where the “Christkindl” will place the Christmas tree and will bring presents and of course a lot of Christmas songs like “Silent night” which will be sung in front of the tree.
If you are interested we can put some pictures online and tell you more about our Christmas. But first you have to tell us, if you celebrate Christmas in India as well and what kind of traditions you have. We are looking forward to read your stories in the comment section.
It was time to close the three day lasting MUN event. For this reason hundreds of delegates gathered in the new auditorium of our partner school waiting for the final MUN ceremony. Kathak dancers, Yoga students and real diplomats were announced to be part of the well balanced program.
And in the midst of all one German students was anxious to be called on stage to share his thoughts about the whole event.
Jakob Schweiger, a participant of our exchange project volunteered for holding a speech and you can imagine how frightening an international audience full of diplomatic experts can be for a 15 year old student.