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Part I: Following the schedule of our exchange

Jacina Januarie: 30th of June: Performances in school

My second day in Germany and I can’t believe that I am really here.  I am in awe how beautiful Munich is and I love the landscape. We performed “Girls in their Sunday Best”, the play we brought over from South Africa that we all worked really hard at and feel so proud of.  We met each other at school,   brought by our host families (I love my host family). The moment I saw the school I was blown away by the architecture, the many bikes and how safe I felt at the school.  Carl Orff has such a relaxed atmosphere and the daily programme runs effortlessly.  We had two performances.  I personally felt that the second performance for the grade 11 learners went better than the first one because we were all so nervous the first round.  Our audience was very quiet and had no facial expressions, only to find out afterwards they listened attentively and reacted at the end of the performance.

We had lunch in their cafeteria which was quite lovely and everyone was so respectful in waiting patiently for one another.  This was an entirely new experience for me as we don’t have a cafeteria at our school.  The grade 11 audience had a few familiar faces, some of our exchange partners are in grade 11, so they smiled at us and  put us at ease.  It is quite daunting to perform for your peers, so thank you for your support, guys.  I think it helped me to feed off your energy.  Overall, I enjoyed both performances because both audiences were respectful and afterwards told us they loved it, which we really appreciated.

Later that day we went to the Regatta in Oberscheissheim to the lake.  It was such a wonderful experience seeing the forest, the lake and watching the German public, how peaceful and happy they are.  Everyone respects each other and enjoys the glorious sunshine.  I really loved the atmosphere.  I had a great time at the lake with my new friends and enjoyed their company.

In the evening Maxi’s family (my host family) had a barbeque which was a wonderful treat along with Julia’s family. We sat under the stars and the trauma of our flight was completely forgotten.  The family made Chelsea and I feel so welcome in their home.  We are truly grateful that we could experience the everyday German lifestyle and routine.  We have seen and experience so much and it will have a lasting impression on me, but it is the people whom I have met on this trip that I will miss forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judith Wedemeyer: 30th of June: Performances in school

The 10th  and 11 th graders who had the honour of being shown the play “girls in their Sunday best” on the very first day after our South African guest arrived, were clearly impressed by the talent and courage of the 8 girls. This was something totally new for our learners and they watched attentively and excitedly which is not what average 15-17 year olds usually do…

Later that day some students had the opportunity to meet the girls and chat to them. Initial shyness or uncertainty were soon overcome not least thanks to the open minded and self-confident appearance of the South African girls. They told about their first impressions of Germany and also asked questions about school life at our Gymnasium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nekita Hill: 30th of June: Watching the performance of the Carl-Orff-Learners (“Theaterklasse”)

I was very impressed by the amount of talent these young learners have.  I was taken by surprise by their level of performance.  It was on point and they were confident, prepared.  I admired their passion and encourage them to continue with drama.  I also felt a sense of community support as I watched the parents supporting their children.  The venue where the performance was held was also impressive.  A beautiful equipped place that the youth can use.  Wow, that is great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandra Lipus: 1st of July: Munich

The first big adventure we all had together was visiting the ''Staatskanzlei’' in Munich and its surrounding.

Everyone was a bit shy in the beginning (the ones who were last year in South Africa and knew them already weren't the whole time with us) and the groups started slowly to get to know each other. In the breaks we walked through the garden of this building and talked a lot and learned more about their and our cultures, language and infrastructure. There were many similar things, but also completely different ways of thinking or acting.

They were very fascinated by the many green plants, the recycling and the big cars here in Munich. Another new point for them was the german politics. There were also many new things for us Germans. In the ''Staatsanwalt'' a man told us a lot about it and showed us many important rooms there. After that we had a guided tour through Munich, where our friends learned more about our history. Also a bit of our ''dark'' history (but later in the KZ they learned a lot more about this side). It seemed to me, that the big and beautiful churches here were also a big highlight for them. We walked around Munich, saw many people who played instruments (they were also very fascinating and different for them) saw the bell ringing at the ''Marienplatz'' (they had never seen something like this before) and talked and laughed a lot.

During the exchange we also visited two theatre plays in the evening. They were both not in English, but because of the gestures and mimic our friends understood the most of it. When there were questions we helped them and translated a bit, but they mostly knew what was meant with it. The way of acting is often the same, doesn't depending on the language or culture.

The first play was about the famous story of Moses. Because of its fame, it was not that difficult to follow for our guests. It was mixed with singing and dancing and it impressed us all.

The play we watched in the ''Schauburg'' was about some nightbours, who all spoke different languages and so the base of this acting was the movement and not the dialog or the language. Before that I couldn't image that they would understand anything because of the different language, but in the end I learned that sometimes you don't need to understand every single word or the other language to understand each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joy Damons: 1st of July: Visit to the Parliament

We spent a very interesting day at the Bavarian parliament.  We were welcomed with refreshments and a talk on German government and the partnership between the Bavarian and Western Cape government.  Dr Fischer explained how the federal state of Germany operates and I found it very interesting to compare South African politics to Germany’s.  He explained the meaning of the Bavarian flag, the coat of arms.  Ever since his explanation, I always looked up at the Bavarian sky to see the blue and white of the clouds.

The lack of security at the parliament buildings was another surprise to me.  When we asked dr Fischer about it he explained that this is their way of life.  In South Africa citizens are governed by fear.  Fear for being robbed, attacked, murdered and here, the German government ensure the right of their citizens to live without fear. They have their citizens’ interest at heart.   How refreshing to not being concerned about criminals all the time, every time! 

This brings me to the question: is Germany a first world country because the citizens are not paralyzed by fear?  They are free of worry and therefore can give their best for their country? For example, recycling is an obligation and not a choice like in South Africa.  We can learn so much from our host country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nekita Hills: : 2nd of July: The Alps

I looked very forward to our excursion to the Alps. I really appreciated all the organization that made this possible.  I would also like to thank our bus driver, mr  Pheiffer for driving us to the Alps.  I could see the typical architecture when we came closer to the Alps, exactly as on photos. 

I enjoyed the hike up, not only was it good exercise but I enjoyed most of all the beautiful views.  I could view the lake and the mountains from different angles.  The hike was quite tough, but the moments to stand still, breathe in the fresh air and just taking in the moment and the scenery, was absolutely heaven. The complete stillness and relaxation was pleasantly interrupted by the energetic antics of Lukas and Anna.  For a moment I thought I saw Heidi and Peter in the two of them. 

We reached the top where everyone stopped for a water break followed by watermelon and cooldrink.  The plates of fries really helped to replenish our depleted energy levels we have lost through our sweat.  I felt a sense of achievement.  Mr Blum kept on saying he had a surprise for us, but I did not take note of it as being there was the ultimate for me already.  Until I was handed a glove and was told that we would slide down the slopes of the Alps.  I am an adrenalin junkie, so I was pretty excited to go down as fast as I could.  What fun!  

Later we walked to the lake where we went on a boat and was taken around the whole lake.  We saw many interesting sights, also saw how the German public camp out at the lake and enjoying the good weather.  It was a lazy afternoon spent on the boat.  We bonded even more with the German learners.

I went home that day and was completely tired, but I could not stop talking to my host family about how much fun I had.  Thank you once again to each and every one who was involved in making this day a reality for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandra Lipus: 2nd of July: The Alps

The next thing was hiking in the mountain near the ''Spitzingsee''. Because of the common day before, we all came closer again during the hiking. It was very hot, but they loved the view from the top and on the way up. They were glad to have a break on the top of the mountain where they could enjoy the great air and the beautiful view and landscape. They told us that in their country they hiked already, but there a so many bush fires, that it is very dangerous and not so nice. Our way down was with a ''Sommerrodelbahn''. It was a lot of fun for everyone, even if some hurt themselves a bit during the way down because of the heat of the plastic.

After an ice cream break, we had a little boat tour on the ''Spitzingsee''. A woman told us a lot of things about the lake and his history. Our guests seemed to enjoy this relaxed tour across the lake on this boat. I think they weren't that often on a boat before.

The last point at this day was a building from where you can see up to the Alps and the Olympiaturm. We were the only ones there. It was a long way to get to the top, but in my opinion the view was worth it for all of us.  They sang their melody from their play in this building and because of this emptiness the sound was more than fantastic. Everyone stopped talking and listened. It was unique for everyone.

The drive in our special bus back home was full of interesting talks and funny games we played during the drive. One of it was called ''broken telephone''. Someone in a circle started and said something (mostly in his own language.. it was very funny sometimes) and then he whispered it into the ear of the next and so on. The last one had to say what he heard and especially when German or Afrikaans was the first sentence the others built something completely new. It was very interesting for both sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chelsea Matheus: 3rd of July: Moving to the hostel

On Friday the third of July we moved to the hostel where we would all stay and rehearse together.  It was a good idea to be together.  It allowed the cast to always be on time and to live together, operating like a unity.

I must admit that when I heard that we are going to live in a hostel, I had the South African version in mind.  Nothing could prepare me for what we encountered.  A beautiful place,   ideally situated near a forest and a castle, peaceful and idyllic. One could not help but create beauty in that place.

At ten o’ clock we visited the old castle.  I was in awe of the beautiful gardens and the interior of the castle.  I have learnt so much about monarchies who reigned in Germany. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zintle Mthamo: Rehearsals

Rehearsing with our German friends was honestly the best part of the trip.  Even though we worked for hours non-stop and had not much time to rest (and to top it, during a heat wave that lasted for days)! If I had to do it all over again, I would do it exactly the same.

The rehearsals brought the whole group closer together.  The topics of our play also gave us the opportunity to discuss issues and discover more about each other.  I liked the fact that language was no barrier or that we had the emotional intelligence not to create a barrier.  At first I had no idea how we would fuse the South African and German pieces.  In fact, I thought it would be impossible.  We also rehearsed sections individually and could not see how it will link with each other.  We also had to master the art of playing with a mask at times which seemed quite difficult, especially at 35 degrees in the shade!  But in the end the pieces complemented each other and enhanced the theme and sub-themes of our pay. The humoristic German pieces on hair balanced the programme.  I am glad that we did not give up trying and that we trusted our directors to take us on this journey.

I have learned a valuable lesson that the show is never over until the fat lady sings.  I will take this home with me and encourage my fellow classmates to keep on trying and never give up. Thank you cast, for this breathtakingly beautiful production. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggi Kellermann: 3rd to 13th of July: Rehearsals, Workshops, Living together

When we arrived at the “Jugendbegegnungsstätte am Tower” we could not imagine how we should be able to compose a whole play in only 9 (!!) days of rehearsing. Of course we did not start at level 0. The Germans had prepared some scenes according to our topic “Hair” and the South Africans had already shown us their amazing performance “Girls in their Sunday best”. Although the task of learning/creating a new play in this short amount of time seemed like a “Mission Impossible” to us. Then the rehearsals began – and it was hard. We started with a Warm-up and yet when we finished it, we were soaked in sweat due to the high temperature of at least 30°. The break we all longed for remained an innocent dream. Hours and hours we followed the orders of our teachers and we all were reminded how exhausting even not-moving, the so-called “Freeze”, can be. But the effort was worthwhile. Step by step, rehearsal by rehearsal we could see our new play developing.

 

Next to the usual rehearsals we made two workshops:

The first workshop taught us to pay attention to our surroundings and to cooperate as a group. We learned not only to see with our eyes but also to listen to the other’s breathing and to feel our companion’s movements. With these skills we discovered the art of acting with masks, which cover your entire face and often your eyes, too. Expressing an emotion on stage is not only about grimacing, but also a lot about body language. More than ever we had to concentrate now on every single motion, so that the unique character of every mask became visible and the mask itself got spirited. Amusingly, we caught ourselves grimacing behind the masks although we knew, that no one could see our faces.

For the other workshop we travelled to the beautiful city Passau, where a former student of Michael Blum owns a dance studio and works as a professional dancer and choreographer. After a – how could it be different – Warm-up, we were shown some easy steps, to get used to the movements. Then we learned a dance to the song “Schau doch net so bes”, the Bavarian parody of Megan Trainer’s well-known song “All about that bass”. This day was maybe the most arduous day of the exchange but that did not derogate our enthusiasm and we all enjoyed the dancing a lot.

 

Even when we were very busy with work there was also enough time to relax, tanning in the garden, of course eating and most of all talking. In the morning, when we had breakfast, in our breaks, in the evening we were talking and got to know each other.  We were together for 24h a day for almost two weeks and meanwhile we noticed many similarities and some differences between South Africans and Germans. Whilst the South African girls wondered why there is no security in public buildings like the “Staatskanzlei” (which we visited before), the Germans were puzzled about the South Africans habit of calling their teachers “Ma’am” and “Sir”. The South Africans were amazed by the high number of bicycles they saw, but for the Germans it seemed quite strange that in South Africa no one cycles and some people never learned to ride a bicycle. Of course, there ARE differences because of the different cultural and historical background, but it did not matter. We talked, danced, sang, worked, partied, cried, laughed, acted and had a (sorry for the word) damn great time together. We are all so different from one another, but yet so alike. We began to love each other just for the way everyone of us is. This all was only possible thanks to our teachers Lionel Hoffman, Willem and Jill Markram, Stefanie Höcherl and Herr Blum and to the one thing we all have in common: our passion for theatre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jill Markram (teacher): Rehearsals

Ever since I came on board this project, drama has always been the main attraction on the programme of this exchange project.  As an educator, I have witnessed the power of drama that transcends all boundaries, diversity and transforms people. I was never interested in the superficiality that is sometimes evident in these projects, hence my outburst on the first day of rehearsal!  I was always interested in sincere, honest theatre making that would benefit the German and the South African learners. I did not want to shy away from topics that might upset people.  But at the same time I wanted to create something that is moving, allow he audience to connect with us and themselves and something that is just so beautiful and a pleasure to watch. I am grateful that I have met Steffi and Michael who have the same outcome in mind and who could research, select and edit material for this project.

I really enjoyed the rehearsal process.  Although it was not the usual leisurely process of six weeks, it was as intense, grueling and tough as it gets.  I appreciated the group’s attitude towards the whole process.  Once they knew that they all came to achieve a common goal, they did exactly that and never once complained about the heat, the hours or the monotony of rehearsing scenes over and over.

I sensed that the learners immediately understood the extended metaphors of the production and the choices behind it. They also understood that nothing can be achieved without the discipline of theatre.  Directors provide a framework to the actors within which they have to find their own wings to fly and this cast rose to the occasion.

Of course we had our moments of disagreement, which at times were quite verbal, but every one realized that the production was bigger than personal feelings. The end result was beyond our wildest expectations.  The technical team worked silently behind the scenes and elevated the production to a professional level.  It was sheer magic on stage.  I would like to thank you again for your passion, diligence, intelligence and perseverance.  For 66 minutes we have succeeded in making the world a better place.   Also, one can only create something as special as this when the planning behind the scenes allows one to do so.  Steffi and Michael really created that platform for all of us to shine.  They had to make many sacrifices.  At times they had to miss out on rehearsals to see to mundane things like collecting water bottles, snacks etc for rehearsals.   To my friends I would like to say thank you again for your selfless act.

I also want to say thank you to my colleague, Lionel Hoffman, who also created this platform for me to interview women whilst he was busy with the unpleasant bureaucratic red tape of getting the girls to Germany.  I will ever be grateful to him for inviting me to be part of this outreach and introducing Steffi and Michael to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chante Plaatjies: 5th of July: Dance Workshop in Passau and the tour in Passau

The train ride with the S-Bahn to Passau was a wonderful experience. I really enjoy seeing the German landscape and having time during the train journey to reflect on everything that I have experienced so far. So many impressions!

I can clearly remember that it was a very hot day and we had to dance in the heat.  I was intrigued how two groups of totally different cultures could come together and perform a dance that was fun and current.  The way in which everyone just participated and gave their best, really opened my eyes to what can be achieved if one puts his mind to it.  Again, it is an indication of the maturity of the group and their positive attitude towards each other and the exchange programme.  Again, like theatre, dance is a universal language.  Every one could express themselves through dance. No heat or thirst or fatigue would or could suppress that feeling that dance evokes in all of us.  Also, the dance routine came in very handy in our production and it added a lovely touch and underlined the theme in a satirical way. 

Passau is a nostalgic medieval city.  I studied Everyman in grade 10 and I could imagine performing it in one of the narrow alleys of Passau.  The tour guide was well prepared and the enthusiastic manner in which he related bits of history, made me forget about the heat.  I was especially interested to learn that Passau is a university town and impressed to know that the young people of Passau assisted to evacuate the older people when they had a flood in 2013.  I read somewhere as well that the youth in Germany does a lot of voluntary work and that is commendable.  An aspect of German culture that we, South Africans, can learn from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel Heilein: 5th of July: Passau

On Sunday the 5th July we drove to Passau in order to take dancing lessons there. The result was a dance, which was also a part of our performance. We had a lot of fun while we were dancing and were able to overcome even more inhibitions. Afterwards we had a sightseeing tour through Passau. The guest noticed that there are much more churches and castles in Germany than in South Africa. After all I think everybody recognised that day what beautiful cities Germany have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel Heilein: 6th of July: Folk Music in the evening

On the evening of 6th July we were auditioned typical Bavarian folk music by a band called “Almklang”. These girls showed us how Bavarian folk music sounds like. In order to do so they used typical instruments like guitar, harp which was quite interesting. It also helped us to get to know Bavaria even better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zintle Mthamo: 7th of July: Concentration Camp Memorial Site Dachau

Imagine being locked up inside a fence and worked to death for hours at end.  Think about going for days with no or little food.   When we visited the camp that day I imagined what it must have felt like to be stripped of your humanity and reduced to a number tattooed on your arm. No movie or pictures in a book can ever prepare you for witnessing the real atmosphere of a camp like this. Up to that point, we had so many beautiful impressions of Germany and like Steffi said, here we saw the darkest hour in this country’s history.  I realized then that the atrocities committed by the South African government during the Apartheid era had degrees of the same human rights violation.  I asked the tour guide, a History teacher at Carl Orff, whether the Jewish people have forgiven Germany for what had happened to them.  He answered that it is still in process.  The visit to the Dachau concentration camp put my own history and what happened in South Africa also into perspective: have we forgiven the whites for what they have done to us? Has the Truth and Reconciliation Commission given the victims of Apartheid the opportunity to forgive? Living today in South Africa as a young woman, I sometimes wonder if wounds like this can ever heal. But I also realized that if I don’t forgive, I will still remain the victim and perhaps by not healing myself, become as evil as my perpetrators. Thank you, Steffi for your kindness, inviting us to your home afterwards to debrief and just sit and enjoy our freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel Heilein: 7th of July: Concentration Camp Memorial Site Dachau

During our South African exchange we visited the concentration camp “Dachau“.  We had a short introduction into the history and development of the Nazi Germany by Mr Bruenger before we went off. At the memorial we got to know the dark part of German history and were informed about special prisoners, or how prisoners were discriminated against or beaten, or about crazy experiments on innocent humans etc. It was quite emotional so that we cried or were upset. But there were also very interesting questions and conversations which allowed us to see things from other perspectives. I think it’s very important to talk about that topic of German history and to learn from it. It was also important to show our guest the negative side of Germany not just the good one.

Summing up you can say that these excursions supported personality development and allowed everybody to gain invaluable social expertise and knowledge about Germany and South Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sikilelwa Vuyeleni: 9th of July: The day before our first performance

Thursday was an exciting day.  We were going to see the venue of our performance that afternoon, I could hardly wait.  We rehearsed for the last time at the hostel, had lunch and it was time to see if all our hard work would pay off at the new space.

We arrived at the town hall in Unterschleissheim and for a moment I could not believe that in 24 hours I would be performing on that stage.  I kept on asking if that was the stage and if all those seats would be filled the next evening.

I am sure no one expected the move into the city hall to be that challenging and that gruesome, but it was.  It was like we were starting all over again.  We had to add things and remove some.  People had to make compromises, ideas were given, some were used and some not.  People got emotional, it was really tough.  We were really tested that afternoon. It was a stressful time for everyone.  This was also the day when I realized how strong everyone was.  No one broke down, complained or threw tantrums.  We did not give up when we saw things did not work, but we kept on with determination and courage because we knew we had a bigger and greater goal to achieve.  When we polished our performance, it was a proud moment.  We owned that stage. 

Communication was the factor that made the production a success.  Everyone listened to each other.  Drama is indeed a powerful force.  Every one left the town hall on a high note, looking forward to the big night the next evening.  Every one had an early night because we needed enough rest for the miracle we were to perform and share with our audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Dietel: 10th of July: The performance in the Town Hall

The time flew away like dust in front of our eyes, as it also did in South Africa last year. We had just started to put the pieces, everybody had brought with himself, together and within a blink the first performance stood in front of us.

The night before 10th July felt unreal, when we talked to each other about the unbelievable fact that the next day would be the huge act. Nevertheless we went to bed more or less in time, looking forward to the next day.

You could see the smiles on our faces, some more sleepy then others, when some of us took their seats in the bus, others decided to go by bike or went to their cars to take another step towards the performance at that evening.

Standing together on the stage again felt great. Even when our group had increased, there was no problem for us to act and move together as one.

We already melted completely together, during the warm up with Jill, the South African theater teacher. Being so close to each other, while touching and feeling everybody, brought back warm and old memories. In the end we were relaxed and ready for the show. Since everybody had helped each other with the make up before, we were only waiting for our entry at this time.

A quiet murmur went through the backstage area of the community center in Unterschleißheim, when the band “Petrols” started the evening with three of their songs. Our excitement rose even more when we heard the string instruments play the two hymns of our countries. A little stage fright should just not be missed before a great show.
When it finally was our turn and we stepped out into the stage lights, we just forgot everything around us. I could hear the words of my theater teachers in my ears have fun and I could see the others, hearing them, too. I could feel how we were doing it. We gave everything and you could feel the energy on stage. You could feel how the spark jumped over and the stage was on fire.

Every scene passed with high speed in front of our eyes, while the play worked like a well-oiled watch, in which everybody of us was a very important gear-wheel. We were able to cover some little mistakes, making it look like nothing had happen.
And before we could believe our eyes, we were all standing together for the last dancing scene.
Only the loud applause, made me realize that we did it. We succeeded to create a one hour theater play in about a week and the audience was enthusiastic about it. I looked over to my friends, who were standing to my right and left. Some of them had white paint on their faces, which let their darker skin shine. I could see all their proud and happy smiles, while we held hands, hoping this moment would last forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumeza Talapile: 10th to 12th of July: ENSA SEMINAR

The ENSA seminar helped me to reflect more intensely on the whole exchange project. I appreciated the philosophical approach that the facilitators adopted and the way they treated us.  The facilitators attended our production and spent the evening with us. They trusted our integrity to discuss difficult topics.   It really helped me to put everything in perspective.  Also it was good to hear what and how the rest of the group felt.  The topic on respect was particularly interesting.

I learnt that our German friends view respect differently than we do.  South Africans are taught to respect their elders, no matter whether an elder deserves the respect or not.  The German youth is taught that respect is earned.  I don’t think that there is anything wrong with either way, but perhaps the Germans should understand where South Africans come from.  It would be very wrong of me if I am disrespectful towards an old white person, even if that white person is racist towards me and vice versa.  Our democracy is still too young to demand that respect is earned. The relationship between the various cultures is still fragile at the moment.   We also have to accept the fact that we are quite diverse, a whole world in one country, so we have to find common ground.  Even when I don’t respect a person, I will still treat him with respect. 

The other side of the coin is also true for the German students.  If one bears in mind their history, they might see respect as being submissive, bowing down to authority.  I can understand that the German youth might perhaps feel that they would NEVER AGAIN, like the plaque at the  Dachau concentration camp says, bow down to authority.  I could go on and on, but for me respect boils down to treat others as you would like to be treated. Respect should not be a complicated issue.  It is a basic human right.   Respect human life.  In fact, respect all living creatures, the planet.  Basically respect al of God’s creation.  Thank you, facilitators for this interesting topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumeza Talapile: 12th of July: The second performance

After the ENSA seminar and a long day of rehearsals after lunch, it was time for our final performance.  We had to adapt yet again to the new venue, but this time we were professionals and adapting to the new space went smooth.  The new stage looked good and added another atmosphere to the production.  Despite the fact that I have already performed at the town hall, this time I felt more nervous as I was directly facing the audience and made direct eye contact with them whilst doing an entire opening scene all on my own.  I was shaking with fear.

The duration of the play felt like two seconds.  When everybody clapped hands, I knew we had done something right, something so impressive that the audience had to stand and clap for so long.

After the performance we had a Q and A session, whereby the audience could ask questions based on our performance.  Most people asked me to translate what I have said in the opening scene.  I appreciated the fact that the audience was interested in what I was saying and it said a lot about the nature of the German audience.  I have also noticed at the professional theatre we attended in Munich, that the German audience give credit to their actors and the actors have long curtain calls.  This is very special that actors, directors and technical staff get the recognition they deserve by the public. It was indeed a spectacular evening and we felt tired but very content that we have achieved our goal.  We have made beautiful theatre together. We have managed to move our audiences and perhaps, hopefully changed their views and ultimately transformed them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Dietel: 12th of July: The second performance

The second performance 12th July in the JBS in Oberschleißheim was also a complete success. The audience wouldn’t stop cheering and stood up for applauding us all. Again and again, we stood up to bow down until the teachers rose to speak for a renewed acceptance speech.
Afterwards the audience came to us and we talked together until late in the night. It was a great evening with nice and interesting talks, not only about the play. We talked about everything, leaving the evening with a warm and impressing feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacina Januarie: 13th of July: Our last day in the hostel

My last day in the beautiful hostel that we lived in for 10 wonderful days.  We became one big crazy family and I will forever treasure the memories we made here.  We return back to our host families to have a relaxed last few days before we return home. It was good to be “home” again.  My host family lives in Haimhausen, a very beautiful city.

We decided to go to Munich city by train using both the S-Bahn and U-Bahn.  I enjoyed both rides.  The trains are so clean and everything is so well organized.  Although the U-Bahn is faster, I prefer the S-Bahn for the scenery.  I loved the city of Munich even more the second time around.  I had a better view and understanding this time.  The architecture is really impressive.  I realized that what we regard as old in South Africa is quite new and recent in Germany. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sikilelwa Vuyeleni: 14th of July: South African Students as teachers

Our day started really early that morning since we had to go to school and address the grade 10 learners on South Africa.  I honestly did not know what to feel – a little apprehensive perhaps because I was not sure whether the grade 10 learners would be interested in learning about my country.

I approached the task at hand with enthusiasm and a positive attitude.  Fortunately I had to speak about the isiXhosa culture.  It was really heart warming to see that the learners responded in a positive manner.  They were interested, asked questions and answered our questions as well.  We even made friends on the day.  Everything went better than expected.  We also learnt more about the lives of the learners.  We realized that, despite our differences, we share a common ground. 

By the end of the day my heart was at the right place.  I felt proud being a South African and I have empowered others about something that is very close to my heart.  It really was a special day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judith Wedemeyer: 14th of July: South African Students as teachers

On Tuesday the 14th of July again grade 10 learners did not attend their usual lessons but were given “crash courses” about the languages, history, politics, theater, ethnical groups and school system of South Africa. Therefore always two South Africans together chose one of these topics and placed themselves in one classroom. In groups of 10-20 pupils the German students moved from classroom to classroom and this way met one pair after the other. They learnt about the different languages of South Africa-especially the similarities between German and Afrikaans- , the History of the Cape Settlers, Sports at South African Schools and lots more. Serious topics like Apartheid and war mixed up with the often funny attempts of Germans trying to pronounce the word “Umqombothi” which is traditional Xhosa beer. The students also could ask any questions they had about school, university jobs or just simply the everyday life in South Africa.

At the end of the day every one that took part in these sessions at school can take home, not only a lot of information, but new impressions, thoughts and maybe even a new perspective on a certain topic. Most importantly though everyone can keep a memory of a very special get-together with extremely awesome people and some good conversations, which showed that most of our dreams, hopes and issues are not so different after all no matter which country or culture we come from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Living together"

 

Part II: Summaries

Jacina Januarie: Host families

My second day in Germany and I can’t believe that I am really here.  I am in awe how beautiful Munich is and I love the landscape. We performed “Girls in their Sunday Best”, the play we brought over from South Africa that we all worked really hard at and feel so proud of […]

Later that day we went to the Regatta in Oberscheissheim to the lake.  It was such a wonderful experience seeing the forest, the lake and watching the German public, how peaceful and happy they are.  Everyone respects each other and enjoys the glorious sunshine.  I really loved the atmosphere.  I had a great time at the lake with my new friends and enjoyed their company.

In the evening Maxi’s family (my host family) had a barbeque which was a wonderful treat along with Julia’s family. We sat under the stars and the trauma of our flight was completely forgotten.  The family made Chelsea and I feel so welcome in their home.  We are truly grateful that we could experience the everyday German lifestyle and routine.  We have seen and experience so much and it will have a lasting impression on me, but it is the people whom I have met on this trip that I will miss forever.

[…] My last day in the beautiful hostel that we lived in for 10 wonderful days.  We became one big crazy family and I will forever treasure the memories we made here.  We return back to our host families to have a relaxed last few days before we return home. It was good to be “home” again.  My host family lives in Haimhausen, a very beautiful city […]

Our host family treated us to traditional Bavarian food.  I came to enjoy the Bavarian food.  One learns a lot about people if you break bread together.  I have done so much more than just breaking bread.  I have broken down barriers, stereotypes and preconceived ideas by visiting Germany.  I am forever grateful for this opportunity to travel to Germany and expand the horizons that existed in my head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viktoria Heck: Host families

Before the South Africans came to Germany, the German students had a lot of discussions of how the hosting would be and what problems could come up and how to solve them. Looking back, these discussions were an unnecessary precaution. The eight girls fit in perfectly. Of course there were smaller problems like getting up on time for a joined breakfast in the mornings before heading off to school. Some of the South African students remarked that they really enjoyed having meals with the whole family without sitting in front of the TV, just spending this time together.  After dinner, my family and I had long talks with our guests about South Africa and Germany, the differences between these two countries, the difficulties but also the beauty of a country. Thus we got to know each other much better and could understand more because then we knew some of the background. I was really impressed by how well our guests knew their country and their government to explain all of this to us. One girl said, in South Africa, she thought she knew only a little about her country but in Germany, she realised how much she really knew.

I think I can speak for all of us German participators to this exchange that we were really impressed by how open the South African students were. We could talk about anything even though some of us only knew each other for a few hours.

I was a bit taken aback but in a positive way that the two girls I hosted explained the differences between “black” and “coloured” as one of the first things without being asked.

We really enjoyed the happiness and thankfulness that was brought to our homes. I’ve never met someone before who says thank you for all the little things. It was heart-warming.

Never before did I really grasp how lucky we can call ourselves with the privileges we enjoy. Questions like “Do you have electricity for the whole day or do you have power cuts?” or statements like “I don’t want to waste your water” took me a bit by surprise and made me think about it. The fact that we don’t have burglar bars in front of our windows and walk home alone, even in the dark is also something I’ve never thought about and took for granted but now I know that this is something that only works out because we live in a safe country with a low crime rate.

But of course we also noticed other differences. “Around here everything is green.” When I heard that, my first reaction was: No, that’s not true. But it is. We have a lot of green here with trees at every other corner. And we use bikes to get somewhere. For some of the South African students it was a highlight to go to school by bike for in South Africa, normally only children ride bikes. Our guests couldn’t believe that most people in Germany own a bike.

Looking back, most of the things we were worrying about proved not to be of any importance. Naturally, the cultural differences did exist and we noticed them but did not turn out to be troublesome.

I don’t want to miss all the experiences I got in these two weeks of exchange.

Thank you to all who made it possible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willem Markram (teacher): My personal highlights

When I arrived in Munich I was surprised to see the maize fields which reminded me of South Africa and I felt immediately at home.  As a History teacher it was indeed a highlight to witness cities like Munich, Passau and Augsburg.  I have studied Hitler’s putch, but to stand in the exact same spot where it actually occurred, was a highlight.  I was struck by the absence of security at the parliament building. 

The visit to the medieval Passau was yet another highlight.  The town has a character of its own and a vibrant atmosphere.  Augsburg has a rich history that dates back 2000 years.  For any History lover, sheer bliss.

Another fact that made a lasting impression on me is the fact that the latest technology forms an integral part of everyday life, but without being visible or defacing the beauty of the old buildings. 

The rides by train and bus gave a greater view on the German landscape and the trips to the Alps and Passau proved that Bavaria is really the heartland of Germany.  The train rides to the different sights really assisted in bringing the South African and German group closer together.   

The visit to Dachau left me with a desolate feeling.  It reminded me of the similarities between South Africa and Germany’s history.  Another fact that was interesting to me was that the picturesque old city of Dachau lies only a stone throw away from the concentration camp.  I was always under the impression that Dachau was only a camp far away from any town or village, hidden away in order to secretly commit the atrocities that occurred in the camp.  We stayed a kilometer or so from the camp, in a block of flats that was erected by the Americans after the war, so of course a lot of development occurred immediately after the war.  Living there also added a very special touch of history for me as well.  I also would like to mention that all our tour guides were really well prepared and I had informative talks with them. 

Our stay at Michael and Steffi, as well as our visit to their parents was another highlight of the tour as we felt so part of their family life.  Further more, our conversations about various topics late at night strengthen our ties and friendship.

Another highlight was the visit to the school.  I was a little apprehensive to teach the young ones rugby but their friendliness and enthusiasm overwhelmed me.  Sport, like theatre, is really a universal language.  

Unexpectedly, the rehearsals and the build up to the final show was the biggest highlight for me.  The manner in which the two groups worked together to reach a common goal was really heart warming to me.  It was an eye opener to someone as cynical as me that two groups could work, live and rehearse together amidst a heat wave.  The determination and enthusiasm of the learners to make a success of the play was commendable. They really bridged the so called cultural and language barrier. The combined effort to work at the play enabled the learners to know each other better and ensure lifelong friendships. I also appreciated the fact that all learners worked hard at cleaning and doing the chores.  I really enjoyed the moments I had with David braaing and it is moments like this that makes the whole trip memorable.  

All these highlights would not have been possible without the good planning of Steffi and Michael. Also the students and ex-students who worked silently behind the scenes, assisting Steffi and Michael also added value to the project. The outcome of the tour has been reached, thanks to their careful planning and left one with a feeling to sustain this project.  See you all in South Africa soon!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa-Marie Kauck: Impressions, reflections, surprises

Something that was really interesting for me, was the day when the South Africans visited the Concentration camp. Only one German student went with them. I personally wanted to rest a few hours and study for an upcoming exam. That was the reason I told myself why I did not accompany the group. When they came back, we could see in their faces the consternation and the kinda shockness about the cruelty of the 3rd Reich shown in the concentration camp in Dachau. At lunch we talked about the historical events and also how they affect the German lives, attitudes and behaviours today. Some days later when we reflected the time we spent together in the youth hostel, we also talked about that visit. What surprised me, was that Dachau was one of the highlights of the South Africans because we shared our history with them. And I suddenly realized that I have started to accept that “bad part” on German history, that I no longer try to ignore the fact that it is part of me and of my culture. Until then I was always ashamed for “my history”. I sometimes had a problem to talk about it because I did not know how to handle or deal with it. My biggest fear was that someone in an overseas country would come up to me and say “You are German therefore you are a Nazi.” But the way the South African girls reacted and spoke about it, showed me that they did not blame us for the Holocaust what helped me to deal with it. One girl asked me if there was a reason why only one German accompanied them which is quite an interesting question and I answered that probably everyone on one hand had found a logical reason to stay like e.g. studying but on the other hand I personally did not feel ready to face the sadness and cruelty in the concentration camp.

Another thing that surprised me was the feeling after each hard day of rehearsing. These days were not easy at all because it was way too hot, we rehearsed for hours and often had to redo one scene what felt like a million times. But I actually enjoyed these hours and each evening I was so proud of the results which we achieved. I realized how much easier and faster you can work in a group when no one is complaining or loosing his concentration. We had such a positive environment which helped a lot. I definitely will try to carry that on in future group projects because it was such a fulfilling feeling afterwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maxi Mittermair: Impressions, reflections, surprises

Two continents, a distance of 10000km, different cultures but you could hardly see any differences between young people chatting laughing and just enjoying life.

Of course you could still noticed some small things (mainly based on my experience with my lovely and wonderful partners Jacina and Chelsea).

They for example got to sleep in our basement, which we use as a spa place in winter, and although the weather outside was very hot, temperatures over 30 degrees celsius every day, the basement didn`t heat up and had a stable temperature of 22 degrees. We thought they were the only lucky people in our house during nighttime because they would not be kept up by the heat… well it turned out something else has kept them awake – it was the `cold´ temperature. So the next night we gave them more blankets and in the end they ended up with 4 blankets and a good night sleep.

They also often wore long clothes when we were outside at a temperature of 30 degrees and everyone else would wear shorts. Based on those impressions I would say they are simply used to hotter weather in Cape Town during summer.

Another point was emotion. They were a lot more emotional and open – minded then we are or would be. Best example: They called our parents “Mom” and “Dad” – I mean who would have the courage to call their exchange parents like that when you only live with them for 8 days?

I really was impressed how open they would share their emotions in public. I am personally not an emotional person but they made me cry in some moments because their feelings were so honest and normal.

What goes with emotions is their attitude. They would always smile and be in a good mood no matter how hard the day was and how much they had to do or even after long hikes when everyone was just tired, they would sleep for an hour on the bus and then be ready for their next adventure, whistling and singing.

One last thing I would like to mention and I have to say that I am really jealous of is their dancing and their moves. You can immediately see that they got trained at dancing or that they dance a lot in their free time (for example in the afternoon at a lake) because on average they were just better then we and every move seems to come just naturally.

So as a result you can see that there are some differences – of course we are individuals and have not grown up together – but the points I mentioned above are just things everyone can learn from each other. This exchange was just a great (learning) experience for all of us where we made friendships that will last forever because we have a lot to talk about, a lot of things to teach each other – but also a lot of fun together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leon Schlagintweit: Impressions, reflections, surprises

In the evenings, I often noticed how our partners were confronted with a complete new situation: To be able to walk out into the garden at night, without necessity of fearing criminals or dangerous animals. They felt very uncomfortable with it, but sometimes one would release, breath the fresh air and listen to the cicadae. 

In the southafrican group i noticed in particular a distinct perception of responsibility. In many cases when something wrent wrong, they considered it to be important to figure out who exactly is to be blamed for it. The question „who was it?“ needed to be solved before going on. This often led to wrong recriminations, especially when it was more than one person responsible. I feel that in our drama group, or in general in germany, that people tend to decide it to be more important to get out of a situation, than to blame a particular person, as it is often of no further use.

For me, the most important impression was the way our southafrican partners take. In our country we got used to get anything we want. Especially we young students live in the implicitness that whatever might happen, our existence is safed by our family or the country. We get a perfect Education – for nothing. Our partners also get a chance in their lives, not least because of their drama-teacher Jill Macram, who teaches them not only how to act, but to be proud women with the strength to strive for more gender equality. But their awareness of what is given to them excels to a degree which I have never experienced before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danilo Pejakovic: “Why it worked out”

In Age they differ from 15 to 20 years. 8 students from the other side of the world Cape Town, South Africa to be exact, 15 students from the region of Munich, Germany meet for a theatre project. Some of them knew each other already, others met for the first time.

In the end the project was successful, the audience was thrilled by the performance.

How was it possible to achieve this in the small amount of practicing (one week) in a group of 23 individuals?

Various factors have to be regarded.

 

At first: Preparation.

On South African side there was a whole piece, called „girls in their sunday best“. It told stories about clothing, identity, discrimination, abduction and rape linked with clothing. The stories were based on real events which were researched by the students.

On the German side also something has been prepared that matched with the topics styling, chlothing, identity and stereotypes.

This preperation was definitely necessary. It was not enough time for researching making up stories. There was only time for practicing, improving the prepared scenes and connecting them.

(Of course a precise planning of a timetable also had to be done. Who is where on which trip. Who sleeps where and so on. But that goes without saying. In the end everyone had to be at the right time in the right place for rehearsing)

 

Secondly: The Environment, the strong lead.

Theatre. Many people involved, many individuals, actually no time left until performing. But every individual in the group has to face the fact, that you need a person that watches from the outside and sometimes decides what’s the best. But in the same time every actor has to be comfortable and content with what he/she is doing.

This is where the director comes in. He/She has to maintain the view over the complete situation, hold outmost discipline. The Crew has to trust him/her on his/her opinion.

 

Third: The participants, „special“ students.

As it may could be heard this undertaking requires a long breath, discipline, the ability to listen actively and stay concentrated longer than 45 minutes and much more. As a former student I can tell that there are not many colleagues I could recommend working with when these capabilities are concerned. That’s ok, because they weren’t necessary for normal lessons.

But these participants have been acting and experiencing theatre classes for quite a while. They could hold discipline, most of them knew when to hold back and how to contribute best.

These three things, and probably much more combined can explain how this could have worked.

Also interesting is the strong bond formed between the individuals. They spend lot of time together, get known very well. Thats a very nice side effect of meeting by acting together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portraits

 



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