Joint thematic workshop - Vereinswesen

While in Friedrichroda on their GPC trip, 12 UK pupils got together with their German peers to discuss the topic of "Vereinswesen" and to compare similarities and differences between the UK and Germany of how young people engage in their local communities.

How do we engage in and with our local communities?

Vereinswesen lends itself to a mulitiplicity of interpretations and the final choices made by the groups were as follows:

• special festivals / Kirmes / Karneval

• helping others / Hilfe für Mitmenschen / DLRG, Bergwacht

• school societies / AGs in der Schule

• music / Musik

• Duke of Edinburgh Award / Model United Nations

Diving into each other's culture

Discussions culminated in some honest and profound reflection – why do we do it? How does it benefit us? What are the pros and the cons?

Young people were keen to find out why the Notting Hill Carnival and local Kirmes are such important annual events. They analysed and discussed aspects such as multiculturalism and the importance of letting everyone, young and old, feel they have a role to play in their own community from a bilateral angle.

Benefits of bilateral discussions

Amongst the participants there was a great deal of earnest discussion and laughter at times. Initial ideas led to very serious analysis of the pros and cons of taking part in these extra-curricular activities, with our participants balancing the benefits of working together on something so positive against the problem of finding the time, maintaining a good standard of schoolwork, and avoiding stress. It is great to see both nationalities realising that they share many of the same interests and pressures in these final important years at school.

A participant's feedback

"Die thematischen Workshops über die Reformation mit den deutschen Schülern waren ganz interessant, besonders weil wir das Wartburg Schloss besucht haben. Die Workshops haben mich für ein Thema für mein deutsches Abitur inspiriert, wofür ich sehr dankbar bin!"