Regional PASCH-ALUMNI Meeting in Berlin (20.-22.10.2017)
In 2018 the initiative PASCH: Schulen: Partner der Zukunft celebrates its ten years anniversary. In North West Europe there is a network of 12 partner schools - worldwide there are even more than 1800 partner schools. These model schools motivate their students to learn the German language and culture by including an extraordinary support when it comes to language learning or extracurricular activities. In 2017 PASCH-ALUMNI from North West Europe met for the first time to discuss a European future.
CREATION OF A NETWORK ACROSS NORTH-WEST EUROPE OF PASCH-ALUMNI
Aided by the strong support of the PASCH-Schools and their partners, in particular the Goethe-Institut, students are able to develop a strong connection with Germany, which will ideally continue into the future, long after they have left school.
In this context, the continuing work with alumni plays an important role. As part of this work, a meeting of alumni of different countries within North West Europe took place in Berlin from 20.-22. October 2017.
25 participants from six countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway, The Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom) met in the German capital for an exchange of ideas and networking opportunities. Most of the alumni are by now studying at universities all over Europe but they all have one thing in common: they all speak German.
THINKING ABOUT EUROPE AND THE SCHOOL OF THE FUTURE
Europe as a topic was at the forefront of the discussions. Since spring 2017, PASCH-ALUMNI had met at alumni meetings in their respective countries in order to discuss the following question: What should a future European school look like? At the meeting of alumni of the region of North West Europe in Berlin, they presented their concepts for a future European school country by country. In addition to practical details, such as the curriculum offered, the language in which lessons would be taught and finances, they also discussed the ideological pillars which would give the schools their European character. Classic presentations were as much part of the talks as creative approaches, such as the staging of a parent evening for students of the new educational establishment.
Most of the participants, who were all born after 1989, had, until recently, taken the idea of a united Europe for granted. But the dangers to this idea became a central part of lively debates. Asked how it would be possible for a European school to even exist in the United Kingdom post Brexit, a British participant said: “We remain part of Europe – and it is down to us, the young generation, to fight that our Europe stays united!”
At the end of the event, the jury found the presentation of Britta, Birna and Birger from Sweden the most convincing one. As one jury member put it: “They managed, in a manner of speaking, to take the audience by the hand and, without the use of any visual aids, lead them through their very convincing concept of a European school.” The winners were presented with a voucher for a future trip to Germany.
A very vivid example of a European initiative was presented by Gabriela Berin and Silvan Wagenknecht of the civic initiative „Pulse of Europe”. This initiative was founded in 2016 as a reaction to the result of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the growth in support for populist right wing parties all over Europe. This trend was to be counteracted by giving a voice to a pro-European movement, as Silvan, one of the founder members of “Pulse of Europe” stressed: “Mostly the only option to express opposition is to take part in demonstrations. We want to stand up for Europe and give expression to the European idea in a positive way.”
A POLITICAL-CULTURAL TOUR OF DISCOVERY
A programme of activities around the event lead the alumni to the heart of German democracy: On a tour of the Government quarter the participants had the opportunity to experience at first hand the workings of the German political system by witnessing a speech in the plenary chamber of the Bundestag, shortly before the first official meeting of the newly elected parliament.
Other stations on their tour of Berlin included the Reichtagskuppel, the Holocaust Memorial and the Brandendburg Gate. In the evening, there were opportunities to discuss the events of the day over dinner in a traditional Berlin pub. The programme ended with a boats tour on the Spree on Sunday.
A NETWORK WITH POTENTIAL
The common link between the alumni was their interest and knowledge of the German language and culture. Not only did this link make the dialogue between them possible, but it also helped to create real enthusiasm for Germany amongst the alumni. The PASCH-ALUMNI meeting facilitated new friendships across country boundaries and made the European idea a tangible prospect for all involved.
The positive effect of the coming together of former PASCH-students from different countries became very apparent during the event. A long term networking opportunity has been created via the newly established PASCH-ALUMNI-Platform which enables online registration and lasting involvement for the alumni.