EuroNews 11-2006, Seminar Experiences, 1st Part

Guests in Cologne and Berlin
The international youth seminar “Saving Memory – Living Democracy” was held in Berlin and continued by a congress in Cologne this October. More that forty young people from six European countries discussed, worked and celebrated together one week in October. A report of the seminar by the German participant Matthias Radek.

“Welcome in Nürnberg“ We were welcomed by a computer voice as we stepped wearily out of the train at the main station. We all could not quiet grasp that we back home again. Images and memories of the last week whirled in our heads while walking through the station concourse toward the exit. I missed all the nice people of the other delegations who worked with me for one week in the conferences rooms. I saw images of us laughing in the subway, taking pictures of the Brandeburger Tor in the glistering sunshine, laughing and joking together in a pub and discussing lively with our translation earplugs in our ears … It seems as if we had spent weeks together but it was actually just 8 days.

On the 15. October we arrived around midday at the airport. The continuation of the seminar series “remember together – create the future of Europe together” waited for us. After the annual seminar meetings in the five countries of the other delegations it was time to finally come to Germany. At first we spent five days at the seminar in Berlin and were actively involved in the programme and then we took part on the following weekend at the congress “remembering for the future” in Cologne. We struggled in the Berlin big-city confusion and made our way by coach, city railroads and underground to our youth hotel where we finally met the other groups from Italy, France, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic and Greece.

As already at the last meeting in Warsaw one year ago, it was this time again a colourful, European, and briefly said, brilliant week, which demanded a lot of us. On the agenda in Berlin were the presentations of the group works on the topic “Hero” and “Role Model” which were prepared by the different groups. The agenda also included a visit of the Holocaust monument and the museum there, a sightseeing tour of the German capital by boat and coach, as well as the international two-day-congress in Cologne. There, we could introduce and present the results of our project on a “European History DVD”, which was developed during the project.

In Berlin the groups presented at first speeches their contributions on the subject “What are for us today heroes / models”. The groups had prepared PowerPoint presentations, speeches and videos. It was exciting and enriching at the same time to be informed about historical and current subjects and problems in the countries of the other delegations, to discuss and to be able to learn therefore more about our neighbours as well as about ourselves. After the contributions of the groups we sat down together to create a presentation for the European History DVD and to discuss how to present it at the congress in Cologne.

It was once again a lot of fun to co-operate with many young people from six different countries productively in a European project and to produce great results together. In addition, it was nice that we had besides the project work also some spare time to do something with the other participants together and to experience Berlin. Then after a walk through the centre of Berlin one sits, for example, calmly in an Austrian café with friends from Prague, Bologna, Paris, Kalavryta and Warsaw together, talks in English, drinks Italian espresso, French café au lait, has some German cheesecake, or Austrian apple strudel – Simply “strudelissimo”!

What I have especially liked is the friendships, which have developed during the seminar work, and the days spent together. It is really a great value to have many friends in different European countries and to learn from and with them. And exactly this makes Europe so special and unique. Since it is not only the official speeches and gestures of the politicians, economic interweaving or the standardized toilet paper which connects us, but rather a human, amicable cooperation. Exactly this showed and was most important during our eight intensive Berlin / Cologne days. Therefore I wish that there were a continuation of the seminar series to make it possible to many more young people to work together in such valuable ways, to learn of each other and with each other. I send greetings to all the participants of the seminar because it was really brilliant with you! I would be glad to see you all again!

Matthias Radek

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