Germany

Thursday, March 14th

On Thursday we visited Hannover.

At 7:30 am we met at Celle station to go to Hannover. The first destination of our excursion was the parliament of Lower Saxony. There we wanted to have an interview with Mrs. Schröder-Köpf (a German politician from the Social Democratic Party) but she didn't make it one time, which is why we watched a movie (unfortunately in German) about the system of government in Germany. Also, we talked with the Mrs. Schröder- Köpf's secretary.

After all Mrs. Schröder- Kopf appeared, so that we could ask a few of our questions. She showed a positive attitude to migration and refugees and answered the questions individually.

Afterwards, we took a guided tour of the parliament. It was fun because we went to the plenary hall and took a lot of pictures. Furthermore, it was really interesting to listen to the story of the ,,Hammelsprung". The ,,Hammelsprung" voting procedure, in which all delegates leave the room and re-enter through three different doors, one for yay, one for nay and another for abstention.

Following this, we had some leisure time in Hannover in groups of at least three people until we reconvened. It was important for me and the other German students of my group to show all the famous sights to our exchange partners. Hence, we went to city hall, the Hannover opera house, the Kröpcke center and saw the popular sculpture named ,,Nanas".

After we experienced a lot and the hunger was quenched, we walked wit to the DRK (the German Red Cross) h the entire group. There we listened to a speech about the general work of the DRK and their project ,, Wege finden" (finding pathways). The project helps refugees after leaving the emergency shelters, which includes finding accomodation, a job, dealing with German bureaucracy as well as understanding German authorities. Additionally, we had the opportunity to talk with a refugee, who is now working at the DRK and in the project. It became clear that the work with refugees and the (volunteer) help for people is relevant to our society.

At the end of our successful excursion, we went home. During the ride home I was talking to the other exchange students about the situation with refugees in their home countries, which I found really interesting.


Friday, March 15th

On Friday, March 15, we visited the VW factory in Wolfsburg. After an uneventful and tiring bus trip we arrived at the Autostadt. The Autostadt is a museum showcasing the development of Volkswagen.

First of all we had free time to explore the different exhibitions of the brands belonging to VW. Most of the students were highly interested in the "time house", which shows milestones of the history of cars. Not only normal cars but racing models were on display as well. Some groups left the Autostadt to go shopping in Wolfsburg. Those people were able to attend the "Fridays for future demonstration,

After meeting up with the whole group we entered the factory for the guided tour. At first we watched a short introductory film. Afterwards we entered the factory halls and had to sit down in a modified car train. It looked like a rollercoaster wagon pulled by a car. During the tour we were provided with a lot of information about the models produced in Wolfsburg. The building itself is the oldest hall of this factory complex and even has some holes left in the ceiling from the bombing in the Second World War. We got to see the seperate steps of production like the body and paint shop. In the body shop the doors, ceiling, trunk and engine compartments are formed. The different parts get painted specifically for the customers in the paint shop. After this tour we left the VW factory and started the ride back.

All in all we got to learn and see a lot about the history and development of Volkswagen and were able to witness modern industry at its finest.


Monday, March 18th

Today we continued to work on the topical project work which had commenced the previous Wednesday. Following this, we started to process the project activities of the past couple of days,, i.e. the Landtag building, the interview with Mrs. Schröder-Köpf about migration, the German Red Cross project (Finding Pathways) and the visit to and tour of the car production at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg.

We worked on those activities for the first four periods and in the last two lessons, we went to class with our exchange students. After that, some went to town while others went home.

Tuesday, March 19th

Our journey began early at 7 o'clock in the parking lot of our school. Everybody was on time except for 2 boys who thought we were taking the train and were waiting at the train station till they called me and I told them otherwise (they still made it in time). After two stops (one German girl has a weak bladder 😂) and a 3.5-hour long trip, we finally arrived in Berlin. We were staying at the A&O hostel Berlin Mitte which is a modern facility right in the middle of Berlin.

After a short visit to the hostel where we stored our luggage, we went to Neukölln, a multinational and -cultural district of Berlin. There we took part in a guided tour.

After we greeted our two guides, both refugees from Syria, we began the tour. It wasn´t your average type of tour where you go and visit all the hot spots and sights of a city but a special type where the guides showed us all the important places for newly-arrived refuges in Berlin

Our guide made it very clear right at the beginning that we could ask him anything and so we did. We asked him about anything we could think of, for example what kind of work he did in his country, if he fled with his family or which emotions he experienced during his journey.

It turned out that our guide had worked as a lawyer and had his own office in the field of legal counselling. He fled together with a woman whom he later married. His trip, of course, was not easy at all, it was a traumatic experience which he won´t forget till the rest of his life.

He ended up in Germany coincidentally since Germany decided not to close its border in 2015 at the same time he arrived in Europe. There he experienced a cultural shock, since the traditions, customs and liberties are very different from what he was used to. He for example told us that Germans are very direct, which isn't a bad quality but it´s a trait he wasn´t used to in Syria. He also talked about his experiences at a refugee camp in Berlin. He hated the fact that he wasn´t allowed to work and didn´t really know what to do with his free time. In addition to that, it was very tiring that they had to eat at the same time every day. That´s why he didn´t really have time to explore the city since he didn´t want to miss out on dinner and go to bed hungry.

But since it was a guided tour and not an interview, he showed us some important places for him and his story in Neukölln. We for example stopped at the Sonnenallee (Sun Avenue), which is a famous street in Berlin. It´s popular for having been split by the Berlin Wall, so one part used to belong to East Germany (the German Democratic republic, GDR) and the other part to West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany, FRG). Nowadays the street is known as "Arabic street" and one can find a lot of Arabic shops there. Our guide said that newly-arrived Refugees often go there to ask for advice.

Our tour ended at an International facility which is a meeting point for refugees. Some of them also live and work there at a Café. After we thanked our guide, we went back to our Hostel and the mandatory program was over for the day. We formed small groups and a lot of them went to the city center of Berlin. So did my group. We went to see some sights, visited some (gift) shops and ate dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. After that we went back to the hostel since we had a curfew at 10pm. We played some cards games and danced a bit.Then we went to sleep because we had to be energized for the next and last exciting day in Berlin.


Wednesday,  March 20th

After a rather long get together in the hallway the other night everybody had the chance to sleep relatively long as we met in the lobby at 8:45 am. At that time everybody had to be ready to go because we all entered the bus and drove to the Brandenburg Gate. After a group picture in front of the famous sight everybody took off in different directions to spend their free time in various ways. Some groups bought a ticket for the subway to go shopping on the well-known Kurfürstendamm while others visited historical places like Checkpoint Charlie or the East Side Gallery. At around 2:15 pm we all gathered again in front of the building of the German parliament, the Reichstag. After a quick security check we met with the German politician and Member of Parliament Kirsten Lühmann. She is the spokeswoman of the SPD (Social Democrats) for the topics of traffic and digital infrastructure but she offered us to answer all of our questions. We spent about one hour talking about migration, refugees, the bad internet connection in Germany, social media and Fridays for future. At some point she had to cut us short because we had too many questions and too little time. After that she showed us some historical parts of the building like a gallery with the names of everybody ever elected to parliament in a democratic election or the shovel used to start the construction of the building. We also visited the chapel of the parliament where elements of all monotheistic religions can be found so that everybody can use it to pray there. Our tour ended on top of the Reichstag, where we had an amazing view over almost all of Berlin. Our way back home was a little tricky because about 30 students wanted to go to the toilet before heading towards the bus. The only problem was that there were exactly two toilets so we lost plenty of time. Additionally, our bus was pulled over on the highway and we had to stop for about ten minutes which is why we arrived at our school at 10:45 pm and everybody was glad to go to bed soon.


Thursday, March 21st

It was the day after our trip to Berlin and we all were pretty exhausted. The plan for today was to finish the different presentations about the topics from the last days. I worked in a group with two girls from Spain, one from Estonia, one dutch girl and German one. I'll call it last man standing. Because we had already worked a lot a week ago we just needed to scan the presentations again and correct some mistakes or add some information. After this was done we had the last two lessons two attend my weekly IT class. Luckily my exchange partner is very interested in information technology so he had a bit of fun too. After school we took the bus home and ate dinner. From this moment we lived our daily rhythm. We relaxed on my couch, talked a lot about our hobbiess, played some video games or did some schoolwork. It was very nice and importent for us to have this time together because we learned a lot about each other and it was just nice being together.


Friday, March 22nd

The last day of the Erasmus project was nothing anybody of us was looking forward to because we had such a great time. Nevertheless we had some fun activities planned for Friday 22.3.19. We started at 8.30 AM in the morning in the auditorium of the HBG. After some technical problems we started with our presentations about the past 12 days. With the help of these presentations we all were able to have a littlerecap for ourselves. At the VW car factory we learned about digitalisation. During our train ride through the production hall we had a lot of fun with Hassan and Rocco. It was very impressive seeing a car being built. During this trip we learned a lot about migration. We talked about chances and risks of migration with Kirsten Lühmann, MdB, in Berlin. In Hanover we discussed what successful integration should look like with Doris Schröder-Köpf, MdL in Hanover. We also watched a role play about that topic performed by the Celler Schloss Theater. Many students presented information about the ideas of the political parties in their home countries on migration, integration, refugees and asylum seeker. During the breaks manny students from the HBG came to the auditorium and met the exchange students. After three hours of listening, learning and repeating what we did in just 12 days, it definitely didn't feel like we were finished. Now we had to fill in a feedback sheet because this was the last exchange activity during our 2-year participation in the Erasmus project. Some students went to classes they didn't want to miss. Others went home to prepare the food for the final get-together at 4 pm. We had an extremely delicious buffet and nice converstions in the afternoon. After we said goodbye to the teachers the day wasn't over yet. We had the posibility to book a pub for that evening which meant we had an exellent place for a farewell party. At 8 PM we all arrived at the location, which was lovely decorated by some students. This party was the perfect ending to this successful Erasmus project.


Interview with Kirsten Lühmann

To find a definition of "integration" is rather hard and Lühmann agreed to that as well. Nevertheless, she managed to answer our first question pretty well. For her integration means that everybody is accepted with all their special needs. Successful integration would be if this concept egalized everybody's mindset so that we wouldn't need any special laws creating equal opportunities. If it feels natural to include everybody and nobody needs to be reminded of that by special laws, integration can be considered successful. According to Lühmann Germany is doing pretty well on a global scale. However, especially in Europe the Scandinavian countries should serve as an example for successful integration. At this point it is important to mention that Lühmann talked about integration of not only refugees but all kinds of disadvantaged people. After this tricky first question Lühmann was asked to talk about her profession and education a little more which is why she explained that she used to be a police officer. Although she graduated high school with an "Abitur" (the highest German degree in secondary education) she had to start in a lower rank because she was female. During the 80s this used to be reality in Germany but today this fortunately changed. Today she is a Member of Parliament, the spokeswoman of the social democratic party for the issues of traffic and digital infrastructure and a mother of three (grandmother of six). Especially as a former police officer she is strongly convinced that every country should be a safe haven for refugees and claiming that they are all criminals is just an expression of fear. About 10% of every population has criminal tendencies so it is natural that some refugees commit crimes. Based on her experience as a police officer she explained that it is impossible to see whether somebody is criminal or not so just sending away all 1.7 million refugees that came to Germany is not the right solution. Furthermore Lühmann explained that a small percentage of refugees comes to Germany and is confronted with ISIS propaganda here. So they come to Germany as regular refugees but develop radical tendencies here.


Kurzbericht: Die (finalen) Mobilitäten C2/C3 unseres ERASMUS+-Projektes

Die letzte Mobilität unseres zweijährigen Erasmus+-Projektes fand vom 12.-23. März in Deutschland bzw. Celle statt. Ziel dieser Mobilitäten war es, die übergeordneten Themen des Projektes zusammenzuführen und dementsprechend ein Narrativ einer "Lebenswelt 4.0" zu entwerfen. Somit beschäftigte die Gruppe erneut mit den Themen Migration, Integration, Digitalisierung und im weitesten Sinne Mobilität, wobei sie die Erfahrung der vorherigen Austausche mit- und einbringen konnten. Die Mobilität bestand aus zwei primären Elementen. Zum einen erarbeiteten die Schüler an 3 Projekttagen in der Schule arbeits- und nationenteilig Präsentationen (13.3., 18.3., 21.3.) zu den o.g. Themen in ihren jeweiligen Ländern, sodass die Abschlusspräsentation der entsprechenden Thematik ein europäisches Panorama bot. Darüber hinaus wurden an diesen Tagen die Exkursionen und Praxisphasen aufgearbeitet.

Eng verknüpft hiermit waren unsere praktischen Aktivitäten. Am 14.3. wurde die niedersächsische Landesbeauftrage für Migration und Partizipation, Frau Doris Schröder-Köpf, im niedersächsischen Landtag interviewt, wodurch wir eine hochrangige Politikerin und Expertin über die Prämissen von Migration und Integration gewinnen konnten. Im Anschluss konnten wir diese politischen Prämissen mit der Praxiserfahrung des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes in Hannover abgleichen. Das DRK betreibt das Projekt "Wege finden", das v.a. Flüchtlingen in der Zeit nach dem Auszug aus der Unterkunft hilft, sich in Deutschland zu integrieren. Deutlich wurde hier eine teils beträchtliche Diskrepanz zwischen politischer Prämisse und praktischer Erfahrung.

Am 15.3. besuchten wir das VW-Werk in Wolfsburg. Da ein Besuch der im Antrag avisierten smart factories leider nicht realisiert werden konnte, sind wir in puncto Digitalisierung auf VW ausgewichen - hier ergab sich ein faszinierendes Bild hochtechnisierter bzw. automatisierter Automobilproduktion. Leider wurde auf Fragen unserer Projektteilnehmer (vermutlich aus unternehmenspolitischen Gründen) nicht eingegangen, sodass eine tiefergehende Beschäftigung mit dem Einfluss der Digitalisierung nicht erfolgen konnte. Auffällig war jedoch, wie wenige Beschäftigte in den riesigen Werkshallen anzutreffen waren. Dies in Verbindung mit der äußerst beeindruckenden Robotertechnologie jedoch lässt erahnen, wie die Zukunft des sekundären Sektors mittelfristig aussehen wird.

Am 16.3. besuchten wir das interkulturelle Theaterstück "Soul Almanya" in Celle, das sich mit der Gründung einer integrativen Soul-Band beschäftigt und "en passant" wichtige Themen der Migrationsdebatte anschneidet, etwa (Mangel an) Integration, Traumata, Tradition, kulturelle Konflikte, aber auch Lebensfreude und Bereicherung. Der 17.3. unterlag dem interkulturellen Austausch.

Zentrale Aktivität dieser Aktivität war die Reise nach Berlin am 19./20.3. nach Berlin. Hier erhielten wir zunächst eine Stadtführung zum Thema "Geflüchtete zeigen ihr Berlin", geleitet von der Non-Profit-Organisation "querstadtein". Mahmoud und Samer, unsere beiden Guides, führten die Gruppe durch zentrale Plätze Neuköllns, an denen die interkulturelle Ausrichtung dieses Stadtteils besonders sichtbar ist (z.B. die Sonnenallee). Besonders beeindruckend waren jedoch die Schilderungen der Guides ihrer persönlichen Erfahrungen in Syrien, die sie letztlich zur Flucht bewegte, sowie die Flucht selbst als auch die Ankunft in Deutschland. Die Schüler zeigten sich hierbei äußerst interessiert und stellten viele Rückfragen. Insgesamt war dies eine extrem eindrucksvolle Aktivität, die uns sicherlich lange im Gedächtnis bleiben wird.

Der Folgetag sah einen Besuch bei Kirsten Lühmann, der Celler SPD-Abgeordneten im Deutschen Bundestag vor. Frau Lühmann ist "von Haus aus" Verkehrsexpertin, hat jedoch bereitwillig zu Fragen von Migration und Integration Stellung bezogen, was sich während der Mobilität als Kernthema herauskristallisierte. Auch hier zeigten sich die Schüler sehr interessiert, stellten viele Rückfragen und konnten nicht nur einen Einblick in die Arbeit von Frau Lühmann, sondern auch in die parlamentarische Arbeit in Deutschland allgemein gewinnen.

Am 22.3. fand die Abschlusspräsentation der Arbeitsergebnisse zur thematischen Arbeit wie auch zu den Exkursionen in der Aula des HBG statt. Mit einem gemeinsamen "get together" am Abend endete diese lange, aber sehr erfolgreiche und schöne letzte Mobilität des Projektes.

Als Produkt ist ein über 100-seitiges Booklet der thematischen Arbeit sowie der Projektarbeit an den diversen außerschulischen Lernorten entstanden, einsehbar auf unserer Projektwebsite https://erasmusplus-hbg.webnode.com/products-/