Together Strong for Environmental Protection and International Understanding — Germany


Dates: 1. 5. 2015 – 1. 5. 2016

Venue: Zethau, Germany

Programme, action: Erasmus+, European Voluntary Service

Participants: Maritin Václavík (12 months) and Martina Kotorová (3 months)

Something about the project: It is composed as two long-term EVSes, the youth organisation  “Grüne Schule grenzenlos” e.V. is the hosting organisation. This NGO deals with youth- and environmental education using non-formal education methods, games and outdoor education. It organises project-days for schools, international youth meetings, school excursions, holiday camps, trainings, cultural events, etc. Grüne Schule´s field of interest is nature conservation and protection of species, forest pedagogy, environmental education, organic farming, multicultural dialogs and international events.

Publicity: You can watch a video about Martin’s year spent in Grüne Schule grenzenlos here. Many thanks to Veronika Kupková for creating this video and her kind permission to promote it on our website.

Project report: I took part in EVS project in a small mountain willage Zethau in Saxony, Germany. Project duration was 3 months, from 24th June til 24th September. My hosting organisation is called Grüne Schule ,,grenzenlos“ e.V, that could be translated as a ,,green school“.

The main tasks durung my stay was to organise some leisure time and educative activities for children, who are coming for school trips or for summer camps to Zethau. We visited Organic Farm, did some sports, prepared some food on campfire and enjoyed bathing in swimming pool nearby during the hot summer days. Important part of the programm for childer are workshops focused on nature and ecology, for example tour to the linon museum, where they can learn a lot of local traditions. I had opportunity to prepare my own workshops too.

The second part og my work was to prepare some event for local people, for example MovieNights or one-day trip to Louny in The Czech Republic. We preapered our own flyers and posters. For me (german pholology student) was great experience, that I have opportunity  to translate some speeches and documents. We took care of some parts of nature reservation too. So sometimes was  manual work as cutting grass or painting needed.

Work in Grüne Schüle is generally quite creative. You are expected to create your own projects and ideas. Working time is a bit irregular, so you should be flexible too. During my leisure time I really enjoyed trips to the nature around Zethau. The nearest bigger town are Freiberg and for the old town and shopping malls well-known Dresden, both are worth to visit.

I would like to thank my colleagues and EYCB for such a nice and interesting summer!

Martina Kotorová

After a long and exciting waiting for my project approval and acceptance of the organization “Grüne Schule grenzenlos” I could pack my luggages and go to Germany. I moved into an apartment for volunteers in an old frame house located in the picturesque landscape of the OreMountains (Erzgebirge) and began to get acquainted with the operation of the “Green Schools without Borders”. I arrived at the beginning of the high season, when children from primary schools were coming to the village of Zethau for their school trips in the nature. There is  an  familiarization with an organic farm, flax processing, forest and aquatic flora and fauna, traditional wood carving, geocaching and less educational activities such as campfire, night march, cinema and more in the visitor´s program.

Summer vacation came after a few weeks, and with this the camps with the expeditions to the neighbourhood – the knowledge of peat bogs, the history of metallurgy in the region and today’s leisure time activities and entertainment.

Since I came to Germany with almost zero knowledge of German, I was worried that I will have huge problem with communication and understanding. But there were two other Czech colleagues in the place of voluntary service, so there was enough of Czech language after time. I managed to learn a new and new vocabulary step by step. I started to visit a language course with another volunteer Martina in beginning of academic year in fall, in nearby Freiberg, where the TechnicalUniversity is. I continued with a course for foreigners in the winter semester when the fall course finished.

There were less programes for children during the autumn and with the winter coming, but there was a series of one-off events instead in which were a lot of new things to learn. Cultural cinemaevenings, Czech-German project for schools, The International Day of Seniors with the participation of local citizens and friends from Louny (Czech town) and approaching Advent.

Throughout the whole year in Germany, there was even some leisure time, which I always spend together with some of the other volunteers (Veronica, Martina) or local citizens. We were getting to know the surrounding towns and countryside, castles and palaces. We took all sorts of hikes with outdoor overnights, trips by bike, train and car and we recognized culture in Dresden and Chemnitz …

I came home to Břeclav for Chritmas and then continued again in voluntary service. There were the least activities with children in January, but instead were a lot of preparations for the new season. I familiarized with administration how it goes in Germany. There was also second workout (training) for the EVS in January. In Hanover, as well as in Weimar in the fall, I met new friends, who were in Germany at EVS at the time. It was always a mixture of various stories and fates with interesting outlook and a lesson.

With increasing temperature in spring 2016 the work grew and school visits began again. In addition my colleague Veronika also gained the support of two Czech-German projects, so there was also a lot of work for me.

In addition to knowledge of Germany, I recognized it´s immediately neighbouring western Bohemia. The fate of this land and those people was the discovery for me as if it was also in a foreign country.

Just before departure I was able to complete year-round assistance in communicating with local Czech side in restoring wooden cross. Thanks to the efforts of me and the rest of people will be restored the small landscape element on the Czech side of the Ore mountains.

Within the full year, I met a variety of different people who helped me when I needed it, they taught me new things and what is the most important – brought a new perspective to my life. Unhappily, this lesson sometimes also brought unpleasant misunderstandings and misconceptions, so that part of the project name “International Understanding” was fulfilled in all possible metaphors.

Big thanks to Jakub Miklín who did and does huge amount of work for the sending organization in Břeclav region and helps many people to enrich their lifes by experiences what would not be possible without his help.

Martin Václavík

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