With dedicated classroom sessions, expeditions and cultural mixing and mingling the International Award Summer Program 2009 turned out to be the perfect recipe for an all rounded individual. Reports Ruchi Mukherjee from Osterburken, Germany.
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In a small town of Germany called Osterburken with a population of less than seven thousand, it was quite amazing to garner so much knowledge in just a matter of a week. Thirty participants from seven different countries arrived in the picturesque little German town, to attend the Fourth International Award Summer School Program from August 24 to August 30, 2009.
The doors for this program were open to all, irrespective of age or race. There were individuals from sixteen to sixty traveling from from Asia to Finland . “It is for young adults planning to become award leaders, as well as experienced leaders wanting to deepen and share their knowledge,” says Klaus Vogel, National Award Coordinator. “One is invited to participate in an Awards’ Leaders course and different workshops are held in the English language,” added Klaus.
Osterburken is a town in the Neckar-Odenwald district, in Baden-Württemberg , Germany . It is situated 90 kilometers east of Heidelberg , The S1 S-Bahn line of the VRN public transport service operates between Homburg (Saarland) and Osterburken, hence the train station here is used frequently to transfer to and from other trains.
Since its very beginnings the German Award has been very closely related to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the United Kingdom .
Now the German Award School is growing bigger after its 2006 50th Year Anniversary in Edinburgh . “It was founded in 1956 in the UK but has its roots in Germany,” informed Klaus. He said that he believes in a school not just for the brain but for all-round enhancement of skills. This is a non-competitive awards program with three separate awards – bronze, silver and gold with the key mission to inspire, guide and support young people in their self-development and to recognize their achievements.
Among the attendees were participants from Israel , Cyprus , Finland , Romania , United Kingdom , Pakistan , Germany , and for the first time India .
Ratuli Chakraborty and Tapti Dasgupta, both teachers by profession, were attending the program from Kolkata, India as they represented their renowned school La Martiniere for Girls, Kolkata.
La Martiniere College was founded by Frenchman Claude Martin of Lyon, France in the 1800’s, it offers an all-round education up to the Higher Secondary level and is one of the finest English speaking schools in India. The school was ranked 2nd “most respected day school” in India in 2008.
Klaus was thrilled with India’s participation and enthusiasm to send exchange students, and was thinking about a future expedition to the Black Forest with students from La Martieniere, India .
While ‘tasting’ some delicious German chocolate cake, I found Klaus expressing his anxiousness to make the program work. “There are so many problems in the world, we want to give these young people a chance to make it better,” he said, “We care, in these programs, for youngsters and it is a part of these meetings to learn from different situations and difficulties,” says Vogel.
Participant Danielle Almog was from Israel , and is a student of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Faisal Yousuf, a pharmacist representing Pakistan , says “During the event it was fun to see the involvement. I think these kinds of events should continue.”
While Diana Iabrasu, a student of journalism from Romania , learnt the art of henna painting on palms and Indian tongue twisters like ‘Kacha Papita Pakka Papita’, Ratuli Chakraborty from India was thoroughly impressed with the stimulation programs. “As a teacher I can vouch for how confident and well rounded I feel after participating in the International summer program. Alongside brain development, our schools need to also focus on enhancing these kinds of programs that help us learn about different cultures and other countries,” expressed Ratuli.
Jassin Rezai from Finland said that the Program made him a mature individual who was ready to grow. “I feel revolutionary changes in me. There is a big difference in the Jassin of 2001 and today. I can speak fluent Hindi and many other languages. All the credit for this goes to the Awards’ Program,” says Jassin with a grin.
The Program was filled with exciting self-development exercises but was tough at the same time. A typical day at the Awards House in Osterburken started at 7am with breakfast duties from cooking to cleaning followed by some classroom sessions along with physical recreation and expeditions. The Program’s appeal was that it centered on individual growth and challenge, not about reaching specific standards set forth by someone else. “The only person these participants compete against is themselves, by challenging their own beliefs about what they can achieve,” says Klaus.
The Program’s motto “There is more in you than you think!” (Kurt Hahn) rang true as all thirty participants departed the program feeling more learned, tolerant, and confident.
With input from Diana Iabrasu