Asia-Pacific German Olympics "The best week of my life"

The students get to know each other in various competitions.
The students get to know each other in various competitions. | Photo: Noah Shahar

​Getting to know and learn from one another in German, 8,000 kilometres from Germany. Seventy-seven pupils from ten countries met in Thailand for the first Asia-Pacific German Olympics.

German disco in the middle of Bangkok: The dance hit “So ein schöner Tag” booms from the speakers and nearly one hundred teenagers – not one of them from Germany – sing along at the top of their lungs. They are from ten countries and all took part in the Asia-Pacific German Olympics organised by the Goethe-Institut and the Thai Association of German Teachers. After more than a week of learning and living together they are celebrating themselves and their new friends.
 

  • Nguyễn Tất Hoàng Long from Ho-Chi-Minh-City can barely believe that he has won the second prize. Photo: Noah Shahar Photo: Noah Shahar
    Nguyễn Tất Hoàng Long from Ho-Chi-Minh-City can barely believe that he has won the second prize.
  • Group picture with guests of honor. Photo: Noah Shahar Photo: Noah Shahar
    Group picture with guests of honor.
  • The students get to know each other in different games. Photo: Noah Shahar Photo: Noah Shahar
    The students get to know each other in different games.
  • The six members of the jury. Photo: Noah Shahar Photo: Noah Shahar
    The six members of the jury.
  • The competition begins. The students have to interview each other about their home countries. Photo: Songkot Ketwet Photo: Songkot Ketwet
    The competition begins. The students have to interview each other about their home countries.
  • The participants hold group presentations in the second part of the competition. Photo: Timo Kozlowski Photo: Timo Kozlowski
    The participants hold group presentations in the second part of the competition.
  • The teachers enjoy the presentations. Photo: Timo Kozlowski Photo: Timo Kozlowski
    The teachers enjoy the presentations.
  • Australia prepared a quiz and everyone is taking part in it. Photo: Timo Kozlowski Photo: Timo Kozlowski
    Australia prepared a quiz and everyone is taking part in it.
  • The participants of level A1 with the three winners… Photo: Noah Shahar Photo: Noah Shahar
    The participants of level A1 with the three winners…
  • …and the group of level A2 with the winners. Photo: Noah Shahar Photo: Noah Shahar
    …and the group of level A2 with the winners.

 Among the dancers is Nguyễn Tất Hoàng Long, who was shedding tears only a few minutes ago when he heard that he’d reached second place in beginners’ level A1. “The contest was pretty hard,” reports the 16-year-old from Vietnam who wants to study biotechnology in Heidelberg. During his holidays he goes to Ho Chi Minh City every day to learn at the Goethe-Institut so he can fulfil his big dream.

In addition to Vietnam and, of course, the host country of Thailand, the Olympics were attended by pupils from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and the Philippines. Their tasks for the competitions in Bangkok and the coastal city of Rayong included designing a wall newspaper as a team, holding a presentation for the jury and even showing off their athletic ability in a station course. “My feet and legs really hurt from running so much,” says Nguyễn Tất Hoàng Long right before the victory ceremony.

But the pain is long forgotten when he proudly shows off his silver medal. And looking back at the many activities alongside the competition he says, “Everything was so much fun: We had a disco, there was a big pool and even piano music in the evening.”

The winner of the A1 competition comes from the host country. “I am very happy,” says Suthinee Jangphiphatnawakit, who has only been taking German for about a year. “I love speaking German,” says the 17-year-old. “Now I want to learn more.”

The girl from Bangkok also enjoyed all the activities surrounding the competition. “We did a lot together: we played football and talked about what is different in each of our countries.” As proud as she is of her first prize, Suthinee says, “The best part was making so many new friends.”

Getting to know other cultures through German

“This week was totally super-cool,” sighs Lucy Matehaere. “I met so many people from other countries and now I know so much about different cultures,” continues the 16-year-old from New Zealand’s south island, who would like to compete as a canoeist in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and hopes to do her training for it in Germany.

Lucy did not make it to the top places, but she had other goals for the nine days in Thailand. “To improve my German and talk to each and every participant and remember their names,” says Lucy. And she did, she says proudly, “In my heart, I won.”

Rushabh Soni not only won in his heart. The 16-year-old from India made first place in the A2 advanced class. “This was the best week of my life,” he says, overwhelmed, following the victory ceremony, and also speaks of the many new friends he’s made here. “We’ve had so much fun together.”

Like almost all of the participants, Rushabh would like to study in Germany. “The Olympics helped me come closer to my dream,” says the boy from Mumbai. “And they motivated me.” Rushabh is holding the envelope containing his prize very tightly in his hands. It is a language course at a Goethe-Institut in Germany. “I am so excited now to fly to Germany and to get to know it and the people there.”