Four fab days in Berlin: Wir sind Berliner!

NewVIc German and history students went to Berlin not only to explore the sights but also to become friends with the students of our partner college Hildegard Wegscheider Gymnasium.   It was a new and exciting experience, especially because we integrated ourselves into the Berlin way of life. We met our Berliner friends, went to their college and Christine Khakhar and Prince Baabu made sure that we got to see all the highlights and understand the history of this exciting city, and we walked for miles from East to West and back again!

We started with a highlight:  On the first evening we had a tour of the Reichstag parliament building, climbing the glass dome looking down into the parliament chamber and looking out at Berlin by night.

After a German breakfast with Brötchen und Wurst we dedicated the day to the history of the divided city. We explored the East Side Gallery where international artists have painted the infamous wall, we visited the DDR museum that shows what life in East Germany was like.  Another highlight was finding out that you can study in Germany for FREE!  We had a tour through the Humboldt Universität, where Einstein and Marx worked and which was originally a king’s palace.  Here the student guides explained to us that university education meant originally to educate yourself universally without being narrowly focused on one subject alone. And they gave us guidance how foreign students can apply.

On Tuesday the Berlin students and their teacher Iris Schmalisch showed us their Berlin:  See our impressions described below.   The government quarter’s architecture which represents democracy was explained to us by one of its architects, the father of one of the German studnets, in a very insightful and inspiring tour.  During the boat tour along the river Spree we could see all the tourist sights, but it was more fun to chat, take selfies and play cards together.

On the last day we went to college in Berlin.   We could take part in the lessons and in return gave a presentation about our life in Newham, even teaching some of our languages, Urdu, Fulani, Krio, Pashto and Tamil.  We enjoyed the Turkish-German lunch served by Frau Gercek in their cheerful cantine.  Then we spent the last hours in Berlin with shopping, whether in expensive glamorous KadeWe or cheap Europa Center. 

After this wunderbar, fabelhaft, super trip we can safely say:  Wir sind Berliner!

 

Ali Baba
Von Jenifan Balendran

Wir hatten geplant, dass wir die Schüler von Hildegard Wegscheider Gymnasium (HWG) im „Ali Baba“ Restaurant treffen. Wir haben gleich Kontakt gefunden und vieles zusammen gemacht. Zum Beispiel, wir haben über die Schule, was wir in Freizeiten machen und was wir mögen und auch was wir nicht mögen geredet. Thilo hat uns Kiba trinken empfohlen, was ich sehr mochte. Wir haben Karten gespielt und dabei ein cooles neues Spiel gelernt. Mir hat der Abend sehr gefallen. Ich möchte gerne noch mal nach Berlin kommen um unsere Freunde von der HWG zu besuchen.

We planned to meet the students from Hildegard Wegscheider gymnasium (HWG) in Ali Baba restaurant. We had contact straight away and did a lot things together. For example, we talked about the school, what we like to do in our free time.  Thilo recommended a drink called Kiba which I really liked. We played cards and learnt a new cool card game. I have really enjoyed that evening. I would like to visit Berlin again to see our friends from HWG.

 

Das Regierungsviertel
Von Hannah Onakade

Ich habe die Zeit mit den deutschen  Schülern und den Lehrern geliebt.  Vom ersten Moment wo wir die deutschen Schüler in einem Restaurant getroffen haben und miteinander Karten gespielt haben.  Bis zu der Zeit als wir zusammen in der Schule waren.  Ich denke , dass es eine tolle Erfahrung war. Der Vater von Fritz hat uns eine Tour durch das Regierungsviertel gegeben. Das war sehr interessant und wir haben viel gesehen. Der Vater war einer der Architekten, die die Regierungsgebäude neben dem Reichstag entworfen haben. Ein Gebäude hat den Spitznamen “Waschmaschine”. Das Haus der Kulturen heisst “Schwangere Auster”.  Während dieser Tour habe ich einem Einblick in Architektur bekommen und ich möchte nun das Fach studieren.

I loved spending time with the German students and their teachers. From the first moment where we met the German students in a restaurant and played cards together. Up to the time when we were at school together. I think it was a great experience. The father of a German student, Fritz, has given us a tour of the government district that was very interesting and we have seen a lot. The father was one of the architects who designed the government buildings next to the Reichstag. A building has been nicknamed “the washing machine”. The House of Culture is called "pregnant oyster". During this tour have, I got an insight into architecture and I now want to study the subject.

 

Brandenburger Tor
Von Kabelan Kokulakumar

Der Besuch  am Brandenburger Tor war ein wahnsinniges Erlebnis. Das Gebäude zeigt uns warum es speziell ist in der ganzen Welt. Wir haben mit unseren Freunden von der HWG zahlreiche “selfies” und Fotos vor dem historischen Monument gemacht. Man kann sagen, dass das Brandenburger Tor uns begeistert hat und wir haben gesehen wie wichtig es ist für die Stadt Berlin. 

The visit to the Brandenburg Gate was an amazing experience. The building itself shows how special it is in the whole world. We took many photos and selfies with our friends from HWG in front of the historical monument. We also saw how important the Brandenburg Gate is for the City of Berlin.  Also we saw the ruined church (symbol of Berlin) with Lisa’s guidance and the Holocaust Memorial with Louise’s explanations.  That was really great because it made us understand so much more.

 

Tränenpalast
Von Lois Zac-Williams

Auf einem sehr wichtigen Platz, in Hinsicht auf die Sozialgeschichte von Berlin, zu stehen war ganz spannend.  Der Tränenpalast hat uns viel interessante Geschichte geboten und wir haben viele informative Ausstellungen gesehen.  Die Information wird nicht nur in Wörtern gezeigt, das Museum hatte auch Filme und Modelle, die sehr einnehmend waren. Deswegen war die Erfahrung angenehm.  Am meisten haben mich die Briefe zwischen Familienmitgliedern, die von der Berliner Mauer getrennt wurden, interessiert.  Man bekam ein kleine Idee wie das Leben war für viele Leute hinter der Mauer.  Zum Glück hat niemand geweint.

It was very exciting to visit the “Palace of Tears”. There was so much interesting information available to us. I most enjoyed looking at the letters from family members who had been separated by the Berlin Wall because you got a sense of what life was like on both sides of the wall.

 

Gedächtniskirche und Holocaust Memorial
Von Shaheer Khan

Wir verbrachten den Tag zusammen mit den Schülern von der HWG. Wir haben uns an der Gedächtniskirche getroffen und kennen gelernt.   Dieses Symbol von Berlin hat uns Lisa gezeigt.  Das war richtig gut, weil wir viel mehr verstanden haben.  Dann kamen wir zum Holocaust Memorial. Louise erklärte uns was das Denkmal bedeutet.  Sie erklärte, dass jede Interpretation anders ist, aber die häufigste ist, dass die Betonplatten einen Friedhof symbolisieren (für diejenigen, die während des Holocaust gestorben sind) und das schräge Feld ist um eine ungute, verwirrende Atmosphäre zu erzeugen.  Das Denkmal ist eines der Highlights von Berlin.

We spent the day with the studnets of HWG.  We met at the Memorial church and Lisa showed us this symbol of Berlin, which really gave us good insights.  We then arrived at the Holocaust Memorial.  Louise explained to us what the memorial was all about.  She stated that everyone interpretation is different, however the most common one is that the slabs of concrete symbolise a cemetery (for those that died during the Holocaust) and the sloping field is to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere. The site is one of the highlights of Berlin.

 

Ein Tag an der Hildegard Wegscheider Schule
Von Mathinie Balanathan

Die Schüler von Hildegard-Wegscheider Oberschule hiessen uns herzlich Wilkommen und haben uns ihre Schule gezeigt. Wir durften an ein paar Unterrichtsstunden teilnehmen und eine Klasse, die uns besonders gefallen hatte war die Englisch Klasse.  Die 10. Klässler waren sehr neugierig und nett und haben uns direkt in ihrer Klasse aufgenommen. Wir haben uns sehr wohl gefühlt. Wir saßen im Kreis und haben uns gegenseitig viele Fragen gestellt und es hatte uns sehr viel Spass gemacht sie zu beantworten.
Wir bedanken uns bei der Hildegard-Wegscheider Oberschule, dass wir die Möglichkeit hatten, die tollen Lehrer und Schüler kennenlernen zu dürfen und hoffen, dass wir sie bald in NewVic begrüßen werden.

The Students from Hildegard-Wegscheider School warmly welcomed us and showed us around their school. We had the opportunity to take part in a few lessons and one lesson we particularly liked was the English Class.
The Year 10 Students were very curious and friendly, they welcomed us to their class and we felt very comfortable with them. We sat in a circle and asked each other questions and it was great  fun for us to answer them.
We would like to thank Hildegard-Wegscheider School that we had the opportunity to meet the great teachers and students and hope that we will welcome them at NewVic soon.

 

And what did our partners from Hildegard Wegscheider Schule think?

Friendly Stalking on Facebook

One morning Mrs. Schmalisch approached us with the information that a group from our partner school in London would visit at the end of March. First ideas were generated as to how to make first contact. Since Facebook is such a commonly used medium for us, we decided that setting up a group would be perfect for the occasion. Luka was so kind as to set it up in January, and from then, communication could go ahead.  Even though we were – surprise, surprise! – quite shy at the beginning and didn't know what to say, we took the opportunity to look at their profiles in order to get an impression. Initially Shaheer and Dalanda were the speakers of the London group, until everyone came together via private messages.

Bonding over Food

Monday evening had come, and we were to meet our online friends in the real world over real food! Everybody was very excited and shy at the same time. Sitting together proved to be somewhat awkward at first, but the menu served as a very efficient means of breaking the ice: Soon people would start talking and having fun in very mixed groups. As it turned out, this evening was not only about sharing information, but also about sharing food! As the evening progressed, some would even take out their cards for a game...  Christine was very excited and took pictures of everyone around (competition question: Did Shaheer or Christine take more photos?)

But first let me take a Selfie...

On a very chilly and rainy Tuesday morning we started our sightseeing tour at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church with a small tour and information given by Lisa and then took the bus to the Tiergarten, starting our walk at the former Kongresshalle. After taking not only selfies but various pictures of the group and the Reichstag etc., Prince was accosted by some Siberian students who mistook him for Barack Obama. Absurdly enough, they didn't have the slightest idea about how racist their behaviour was, also when they took pictures with Dalanda. The notion of Fremdschämen gained some momentum at this point.

Then we met Mr. Hüpeden who showed us around the Regierungsviertel: we enjoyed a guided tour by an expert since he had been involved in the planning and building of some major buildings of our government quarters.  As it was very cold, to say the least, we looked forward to our lunch break at the Hauptbahnhof, where many of us had the local must-eat food: Döner! Afterwards, we took a one-hour boat trip on the river Spree, and thankfully we didn't have to walk around at this time, since it was pouring with rain. Many of us took the opportunity again to enjoy a game of cards and to take more – selfies!

The next stop was the Brandenburg Gate, where even more – guess what – selfies! were taken.
Louise then gave us some information about the Holocaust Memorial and we walked through it to understand the concept.
Passing by the highly secured British Embassy, we arrived at our last lag for the day, which was the exhibition on people leaving the GDR for a day or for good in the Tränenpalast.

It was a very pleasant day (apart from the lousy weather) since the Londoners were easy to talk to and very open-minded. By the end of that day, everybody had got to know everybody else – and we were all so e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d!

 

Back to school

Obviously, the meeting at our school had to start with – pictures!
After a quick meeting in the classroom, we gave the Londoners a short tour around the HWG, in the course of which some students from a Year 7 actually sang a song – what a pleasant surprise! It was interesting to compare the different views on the respective schools. After that, the Londoners gave us presentations on Newham and its ethnic diversity, and we even got five-minute lessons in their very many native tongues.

After a break the Londoners went with us off to different classes. Prince even gave a geography lesson on Africa and globalisation (best ever!), and then it was time for our (very extended) goodbyes and promises to keep in touch.

It was a new and exciting experience for everyone: Thank you NewVIc!

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