Seminar in Dresden
As part of the EVS, everyone participates in two seminars. I had my first one, along with the other EVS volunteers last week, the 22nd-28th of February. To be honest I had very few expectations of the week as I had no clue as to what we would be doing. However, the week was definitely one of the highlights of the year so far.
Once in Dresden on Monday afternoon we started with some ice-breakers. We had a 'Mission impossible' task where we had 44 tasks to do in 44 minutes. Tasks which included 50 push ups, running round the house three times and making an EVS song. This brought the group together really well and from the start I could tell everyone was going to get on really well and it was going to be a good week.
On Tuesday we presented our projects to the other volunteers having spent an hour or so making various poster etc. The afternoon was spent exploring Dresden, which is a beautiful city, and we were in small groups of people who all wanted to visit similar things. We had to decide a question before exploring the city to give a sense of purpose to the sight seeing: ours was 'Is there an obvious difference between pre and post war architecture?' As well as the sightseeing we all had to record two sounds whilst in the city: one man made and one natural, to make a 'Dresden Symphony' when we returned home.
Wednesday started with group presentations of our findings in Dresden....ours could have done with a little bit more preparation. In the afternoon Bärbel Bohnacker came to speak to us about our rights as European Volunteers. The evening was then spent watching Sonnenallee and Die Welle.
The topic of Thursday was Fashion. In the morning we thought about how clothes are made, what journey they make to our shops etc, and what we can do to help the people suffering from this so called 'fast fashion'. In the afternoon we headed to the Hygiene museum, where they were holding a fast fashion exhibition (hence the morning's activities) which was good and definitely made you think, although for me personally, I was much more interested in the normal exhibition there which was all to do with science and the human body. After this we all headed to an event called 'Kitchen Talk' which was designed to integrate refugees into society. There were many people there, many refugees along with many local Germans, and we all helped to make some Syrian food and then of course try the Syrian food. It was overall a very good concept, however there were a few too many people to all help with the food preparation and the language barrier between the refugees and us made it difficult to hold a long lasting conversation with them.
Friday was a day of expression. Having started the day with conversation about the refugee situation, we then went on to talk more about our projects. We spoke in pairs about our successes so far, and then we came back together into two groups and spoke about any problems we are facing. This was highly rewarding and definitely helped give new ideas to those who no longer knew how to deal with the issues they are facing.
Opera. For me this seemed like a perfect day ...but this wasn't a standard opera. We spent the morning all researching about the opera so that we had some background knowledge..but this was not enough. I think out of the nineteen people on the seminar, seventeen of us got completely lost with what was going on. It was an opera by Viktor Ulmann (Der Kaiser von Atlantis -the Emperor of Atlantis) and had something to do with the war and a concentration camp I believe. But more than that I do not know. However, the composition and singing was very good, it would have been better without any acting or storyline.
On Sunday we discussed about what we have to do for Youth Pass and then had a reflection of the week. After lunch we all went our separate ways (although actually five of us from Halle stayed an extra night in Dresden to do more exploring on the Monday). Fortunately the majority of people on the seminar are all doing their voluntary year reasonably close to Halle so hopefully we can keep in contact with them. As I said at the start, it was one of the best weeks so far, and I can't wait for our second seminar in June.