“Mein Bild, sein Bild, unser Bild!”

From the 15th to the 18th June, two groups from Germany and Poland came together in Leipzig for an exchange that would bring them together again after their first meeting in Poland a year ago.

The exchange took place at the Helmholtz School and was full of fun activities. The young people painted a large mural with graffiti that read “Mein Bild, dein Bild, unser Bild“ (my picture, your picture, our picture) and “united, not divided”. The mural was so beautiful that the next day we printed T-shirts with photos of the mural. During the whole encounter the youngsters could use instant print cameras, they loved it! They spent lot of time taking pictures of each other, finally on the last day they created their own personal photo album with their favoutire pictures.

Luckily several people spoke both German and Polish, so they did the work of interpreters, so the languages of the exchange were German and Polish, therefore everyone could express themselves in their mother tongue and understand everything perfectly. Of course the participants used English to communicate with each other.

Unfortunately the exchange lasted less time than expected, so the young people enjoyed every moment to the maximum and ended up really tired.

This youth exchange was possible thanks to the the financial support of the German Polish Youth Organization (Deutsch Polnischen Jugendwerks) and the Free State of Saxony from funds of the budget decided by the Saxon State Parliament.

 

We are intercultural! International youth exchange from April 13 to 19

We are intercultural! was the motto of the international youth exchange between Finland, France and Germany.

They dealt with the topic of interculturality. Especially after the events in Chemnitz in summer 2018 it was important to show the young people how profitable it is to have friends in other countries. “I think it’s great that I speak English all the time during the meeting,” said Liska Rulff, a participant from Chemnitz. “Maybe I haven’t learned a lot of new vocabulary, but I’m not afraid to speak,” she said happily.

The participants reencountered in Chemnitz after their first meeting in Finland. For one week the participants, who are between 13 and 19 years old, lived together while taking part in different activities such as a graffiti workshop or geocatching… they even went for climbing!

In the evenings they had the chance to learn about the countries of their mates and taste some of their traditional food! Apart of course from the mandatory campfire with marshmallows and stick bread.

During their trip to Weimar they visited the concentration camp Buchenwald, they were all moved but glad for having learned more about history.

The youngsters themselves created a street campaign about Europe, they prepared some Easter games, a quiz about Europe, a mind-map and different stands where they invited people from the street to have fun and learn a little bit about Europe.

Janina Rüther, one of the group leaders from Chemnitz, told us why the youngsters have chosen this topic: “They thought about the incidents in Chemnitz last summer, about #wirsindmehr and wanted to actively participate in the public debate. That’s why they did a street campaign, they wanted to show the people from Chemnitz that they shouldn´t be afraid of people from other countries, rather on the contrary!“ The participants from France and Finland found the visit to Weimar and Buchenwald particularly important, because they were interested in the history of Germany and these are two of the things that come to your mind first when you talk about Germany”.

Fast feet, slow food – international youth exchange from April 22 to 27

Three groups from Greece, Poland and Germany met here in Leipzig after their first encounter in Thessaloniki, Greece. Thanks to the project wir weit weg the German youngsters themselves helped organising the program. The participants, from 13 to 17 years old, spent a week full of workshops, activities and much fun. The theme of this project is Fast feet- Slow food. That is why this week had many sport activities, such as a parkour workshop, furthermore most of the days the food was completely vegetarian, super healthy!

The exchange took mostly place in Kulturwerkstatt KAOS, such a lovely house! Among the activities there were language animation, billard evening, city ralley, and also different workshops. There was a photography workshop, where the youngsters had the opportunity to make light painting. In addition, we had a video workshop, where the youngsters themselves recorded and edited a video about healthy exercises, and finally a writing workshop, where the participants became journalists and made interviews and finally a survey about healthy lifestyle.

After one week, the last day was hard for the whole group. Very beautiful things were said between the participants like „thanks for all the good jokes“, „thank you for being such a good friend“ or simply “thanks for everything“. We ended the youth meeting with the loveliest evening: private concert, disco party and campfire!

Saying goodbye was heartbreaking and all the participants hope to meet again in a new project in Poland, although we don´t know if it will be possible.

International Work Annual Review 2018:

As a team of the International Work of the KINDERVEREINIGUNG Leipzig e.V. we brought together in 2018 79 young people from Leipzig, Frohburg (county of Leipzig) and Chemnitz with 179 young people from other European countries and encouraged them to participate in international youth exchanges. We want to continue doing so in 2019.

“Portugal was great. I told my mom that I want to finish High School now and after that I will be 18 and I want to do a voluntary service. Preferably there in Lisbon,” this way Maja, 15 years old, participant in the wir weit weg group at the Helmholtz High School in Leipzig summarises her impressions. Together with other students from her school, she developed a trilateral youth encounter and met Polish and Greek youths in Lisbon, Portugal.

All other 79 participants from Leipzig, Frohburg (county of Leipzig) and Chemnitz are also enthusiastic. In 2018, they took part in our two international projects not related to wir weit weg, one in cooperation with the Helmholtz Secondary School in Leipzig and five wir weit weg groups, each one with an international youth encounter.

In our partner countries -Poland, the Czech Republic, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, France and Finland, the participants met a total of 179 other young people. The topics of the eight international youth encounters were upcycling, street art, sports and dance, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, sustainability, diversity and cultural origin. The participants took an insight into the daily lives of the other young people. Some of them even started to be interested in the international youth work in the longer term, as Merhan, 16 years old, of the Leipzig-Paunsdorf secondary school, said:

“I am so happy that I learned about wir weit weg from international youth encounters. “Upcycle your life” was a lot of fun and there were so many great people. I would like to work in the field in the future.”

 

Quality assurance and recognition

Our daily work also has an international aspect: the European volunteer Claudia from Spain has been supporting us in the office since October and she is staying here for a year. In order to maintain and constantly improve the quality of the projects, five of our team members also received further training in methods and content and made contacts during two training sessions on Malta and Belgium. We took part in numerous networking meetings of the SALTO Youth Net, in trainings of the German-Polish Youth Work, the initiative “Austausch macht Schule” and the network “Forschung und Praxis im Dialog” (FPD). We hosted the network meeting of the International Innofonds Projects of the Children and Youth Plan of the BMFSFJ as well as the peer-to-peer workshop of the FPD.

A special recognition of our work, especially the wir weit weg project, is for us the support of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, which finances a part-time position in fundraising, public relations and evaluation of the previous wir weit weg results.

Outlook 2019

These successes from 2018 are the greatest motivation for us to fill our calendar again in the coming year 2019: There will probably be four return encounters of the wir weit weg projects from 2018 (three of which have already been approved), one international youth exchange with the Helmholtz Secondary School, one international youth exchange with Serbia and Belgium, in which former “wir weit weg” participants are playing a decisive role in terms of shaping, as well as another youth exchange not related to this project. In addition, there will be a new “wir weit weg” generation at three secondary schools in Leipzig.

For further quality assurance and networking, we are organising an evaluation workshop for our wir weit weg project on 28 June 2019 in Leipzig (save the date!), to which we are inviting representatives sciencists, specialist public and interested institutions of child and youth welfare and international youth work to join us in looking back on five years of wir weit weg. We want to present the scientific evaluation of the project by the Chair of Media Competence and Acquisition Research at the University of Leipzig and analyse the highs and lows of the project.

The evaluation workshop will provide institutions and organisations that can imagine bringing wir weit weg into their institutions with suggestions and contacts, and we are striving for a first version of our training manual, which should enable the transfer of wir weit weg into other contexts and on which we are currently already working. Evaluation of the previous wir weit weg results financed.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

So it only remains for us to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We would like to thank our partner organisations, coaches, team members, sponsors (Amt für Jugend, Familie und Bildung der Stadt Leipzig, Innovationsfonds des Kinder- und Jugendplans des BMFSFJ, Erasmus+ JUGEND IN AKTION, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Deutsch-Polnisches Jugendwerk, Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk, Landesdirektion Sachsen) and supporters for their cooperation and look forward to future cooperation. May your coming year be as diverse and rich in (international) exchange as it promises to be ours.

Cordially, the team international work of the KINDERVEREINIGUNG Leipzig e.V.

Christian Schmidt-Rost, Alexandra Zagler, Fina Wiese, Sarah Christl, Babette Pohle, Claudia Jamie