In barely two weeks we are going to fly to our partner school in India. This means it is high time to inform the parents of the latest news from Lotus Valley, to hand out the schedule prepared diligently, and to answer the most pressing questions of all participants. Therefore, the German parents, some of the exchange students and me, being the participating teacher will gather at the Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium this Monday evening.
The most urgent question to answer will certainly be whether we will get our visa in time. Luckily, I got an email this week from the consulate of India in Munich guarantying us the help of the consulate. Thus, I feel more than positive that the visa problems of the last weeks are off the table and that there won’t be any more surprises.
As we also already got our tickets from our travel agent we are theoretically ready to travel, and the meeting is obsolete, isn’t it? That’s a hopeful but somehow naïve wish. The experience of several years of exchange have taught us that there are far more topics to clarify, not only to settle the parents’ worries but also to avoid further misunderstandings.
So, here is my checklist for all the teachers who must conduct such a meeting. I tried to make a list of all the topics that usually arise during the meeting and that I put in my presentation in advance. Please drop a comment if I forgot an issue.
Amazing day spent in the surroundings of Straubing.
Saw the parade of various clubs and enjoyed the festive mood. All pretty ladies , children and dashing boys along with retired persons of were so proud of their clubs!
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.
This year’s topic is “Different countries – different sports”. But there are much more differences between Germany and India. The German students of class seven asked sponaniously one of the teachers of Lotus Valley International School to teach them about the gods and godesses of Hinduism. Mrs Radhika Babbar was happy to explain the children the concept of that religion and the delighted students of Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium immedately wrote an article about that interesting lesson.
“Who of us is going to accompany the Indians during their trip to Regensburg?” asks a worried collegue of mine in our lunch break. As if I know such a thing five days in advance of the Indians’ stay in Germany! Of course the planning could have been already completed, but who thinks like that has surely never organized a student exchange yet.
It all started when the date on Tuesday was in doubt. Three of the German students told me that they have to take part in a football tournament and that we have to change the day of our welcome dinner to another evening. But if we move our potluck event to Monday it will collide with an exam. While I ponder how to get rid of that problem I receive an email: The landing stage of the rowing club has to be replaced and we have to cancel our rowing activity. “But when I put the Judo training onto Tuesday we could go rowing on Wednesday. I only have to rebook our bus!” While I shift more and more dates and activities into the right time slots I get onother mail. A sport club I couldn’t reach for a long time asks, whether thay can take part in our exchange project or not. I simply have to send them two possible dates and they would be happy to chose one of them. I decide to postpone the necessary phone call to the next day.
To calm myself a little bit I call some other partners instead. They should just verify some activities I booked weeks in advance. I shouldn’t have done that: The restaurant which was planned for our farewell dinner is renovating and we don’t have any replacement yet. But that doesn’t bother me any more: Rowing on Wednesday! Sport club on Tuesday morning and the Bavarian curling club has to be flexible and will be visited on another day!
And the college for the trip to Regensburg, who whas mentioned before? At least I can rely on me fellow teachers. But the solution for the remaining schedule will be thrilling. At least I still have five more days. What could go wrong in such a short time?