Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Newspaper report

There was an article about the project in the newspaper today. This is what it says:

Overcoming langugage barriers, fighting prejudices
Kaufmannsschule II receives Romanian and Bulgarian teachers and students. Funded by the EU

By Marc Miertzschke

Hohenlimburg. The European idea was taken in quickly, the language barrier and prejudices were overcome: Students and teachers from three European nations met at Kaufmannsschule II (K2) in a European exchange programme. Following the slogan "Becoming a multicultural European" 14 students and teachers from "Nichita Stanescu" situated in Romania's capital Bucarest and from "Vasil Levski" in Dolni chiflik in Bulgaria visited K2.

Headteacher Thomas Vogl welcomed the delegations for a week of getting to know and meeting each other. The programme consisted of attending lessons, an intercultural training and a presentation about migration. Moreover the week was used to plan the project in the coming years: The strategic partnership has received a funding f 25,000 € as an intercultural project for two years by the European Union. A visit to Romania is being planned for next year, the visit to Bulgaria is scheduled for the year after. "We would like to help students overcome their stereotypes and prejudices against other nations with this project", says Thomas Vogl. "When students of the same age meet in person and talk about their interests or hobbies they quickly realise their similarities." Furthermore this exchange is a good opportunity to use the English learnt at school in everyday situations, says Vogl.

After a few reservations at the beginning this worked out quickly, says Sandra Hansen, teacher of German and English.

A good mixture

"The exchange was very successful, a good mixture of personal encounter, intellectual input and joint discussion. I think that most of us feel more like a European and have broadened their views."

This positive perception was supported by Niculina Chiper, teacher at the Romanian school: "This week has opened many interesting perspectives for us which we will investigate deeper." Apart from the topical input the participants had fun: They looked at multicultural Hagen. For many it was their first visit to Germany: "Hagen and Hohenlimburg are lovely cities, very cosy, I also liked Cologne a lot", says Nikolay Atanasov (18), in his final year in Bulgaria, about his impressions. "Everyone we have met here was very nice. I have made new friends."

Friday, 25 November 2016

Project meeting day 5

Today  we invited some more students from Kaufmannsschule II to join in with our guests and talk about different cultural aspects and compare them.
In the end all posters were turned into an exhibition in the break hall in order to share with all pupils from the school.

Then students wrote a postcard to themselves about what they will remember about our week in Hagen.

In the evening students and teachers met for a farewell dinner and our guests were very kind and presented us with generous gifts. 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Project meeting day 4

Today the students and teachers were introduced to the Twinspace on in order to get to know the possibilities of collaboration. We also watched the videos the Romanian students made for this project which are very enjoyable.

Later in the day the team went on an excursion to Cologne to visit the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum (a museum of cultures). Students and teachers enjoyed the various displays including topics such as stereotypes, globalisation of cultures and world religions.

This was followed by a visit to the cathedral and the city centre. 

And back to Hagen -  coming to terms with the fact that tomorrow is our last day together for a while.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Project meeting day 3

Today the students and teachers took part in transcultural training sessions to find out more about the fact that everyone perceives the world in a different way - with different cultures as a background. Culture in this context is a very open concept which can mean a variety of things. Transcultural trainer Jamin Marla was a great expert and teacher to show us how we can become more open-minded about other people and look for similarities rather than things which are different. 

We would also like to share a video of a TED talk in which Chimanda Adichie explains how a "single story", i.e. a reduced view, leads to stereotypes:

Teachers also investigated the web 2.0 tools on the market in order to decide which ones they want to use during the project. After a very inspiring day the students went to spend a day at a German host family and teachers went into town or to see some sights in Hagen. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Project meeting day 2

The second day of our project meeting started with some scientific input: "An introduction into migrational studies on the example of migration flows from Romania and Bulgaria to Germany" by lecturer Ines Gottschalk from Ruhr Universität Bochum. In her excellent presentation she gave 4 ideal types of migrants and their motives, continued to explain research methods such as discourse analysis, quantitative and qualitative research and gave some results on her research. This was perceived as very inspiring for our project.

Next students and teachers sat together and made detailed plans of the topics which they are responsible for and discussed this afterwards.

In the afternoon we visited one of Hagen's "best bunkers" from the second world war and took part in the simulation of a bomb attack. Everybody thought that this was a worthwhile experience.

The students are getting on well together and sat down for a meal at lunchtime.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Project meeting day 1

Kaufmannsschule II welcomed the Bulgarian and Romanian delegations today in Hagen. Headteacher Thomas Vogl gave a welcoming speech to the teachers and students visiting the school. After the students presented their schools and cities teachers were shown round the school and students took part in lessons. Everybody was very interested in meeting the lovely open-minded people. The ideas of the project were summarised for the participants and the students were introduced to the whole project.

The afternoon was spent exploring Hagen and its signs of migration. Luckily we could walk around the Christmas market, too.

Some results of the day:

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Kaufmannsschule II, Hagen, Germany

Kaufmannsschule II is a vocational school specialised in economy and administration with full-time as well as part-time students which make up a total of about 2,000 students. Part-time students are apprentices in the areas of legal jobs, the retail sector, freight forwarding and office assistants. Full-time students attend the school to acquire a qualification to study (Fachabitur or Abitur).

Two important subject areas in line with the special focus of the school are Business Administration and IT for business applications. The school also offers subjects of general education like Maths, P.E. and German while teaching Business English and Spanish as foreign languages.

The teachers of the school support different kinds of projects to facilitate special interests or talents of students, such as a three-week course in Business English in London for gifted students (they have to earn money for the fees by working in local companies during the summer holidays), visits to different regional companies (professional orientation), a student exchange with a Spanish school or an advertising project in cooperation with the city of Hagen and the EuropeDirectBüro in Hagen.

We believe that students can acquire valuable competencies in taking part in different types of projects that very often cannot be measured as it changes the personality or attitudes of the participants. The school has also taken part in one successful EU-funded project and is active on eTwinning. Kaufmannsschule II runs its own content management system based on moodle which is used for teaching and the school has taken part in eTwinning projects since 2007. 

Looking at its pupils it is very striking that the school is very multicultural. In the current school year the school has students from these countries: Germany (85.6%), Turkey (7.5%), Italy (2%), Greece (1.6%), Serbia (0.8%), Bosnia (0.8%), Portugal (0.8%), Poland (0.3%), Croatia (0.2%), Russia (0.2%) and Syria (0.2%). Considering that many students have a German passport the migrational background is even larger taking into account that more students have roots in other countries. The class 11bs2 is a case in point: Whereas all pupils are German their parents and grandparents come from 11 different countries. This figure has risen since the school is teaching refugees who were displaced during the current crises. 

Regarding the religious beliefs among the students are Protestants (33%), Catholics (29.5%), Muslims (22.1%) and Orthodox (1.7%). The rest is distributed among others (3.5%) and no religion (10.2%).