“German language course and life in the 90s”
The German language can be tricky. AEGEE-Aachen has a long tradition in organising excellent language courses. “Achtung: Wild! Umfahren oder umfahren?” was the title of the Summer Course+, which took place from 27 June to 12 July 2019.
Golden Times: What was your Summer University about?
Markus Barten, main coordinator: In addition to the German course, which is almost obligatory in Aachen, this year we have taken up the topic of the 90s. With a lot of effort we managed to find contemporary witnesses who explained how it was to live during this time. In addition, there were workshops about the West/East conflict of the time, especially between East and West Germany.
GT: How many participants and how many organizers did you have?
Markus: Our Main Team consisted of four persons, our extended Orga Team consisted of two further persons. During these two weeks of Summer University 34 local people helped to do everything for our 17 participants, to make them feel as comfortable as possible, so that they can’t say anything else at the end of this summer than “Going to Aachen was the best decision I made”.
GT: What were the greatest thematic programme highlights of the SU?
Markus: Of course one of our highlights, as every year, was the German course. Thanks to our qualified teachers, who have taken care of the problems of each participant, none of our participants went home without improving their knowledge of German. Furthermore, our participants have been welcomed by our city mayor and have been showed one of the most important buildings in Aachen, the town hall, which was very impressive for most of them. The First Aid course was also one part of the programme that was very well liked by both participants and organizers. For some this was the first time they participated in such a course, and you could see how interested they were and how they acquired things that could save lives in an actual emergency.
GT: What were the funniest or most exciting moments?
Markus: We had many good moments during this SU. One of my personal highlights was when our participants congratulated me on my birthday with small presents from their home country or from the local supermarket. I was very happy and touched about that. Thanks again! Another moment was when we arrived at the camping site after a four-hour bike tour and looked into relieved faces who were happy to finally have made it and could relax in the lake now. One last thing was, when we were all together in the thermal baths in Aachen. I can say that we managed to bring the German sauna culture closer to most of our participants. And yes, we were all naked.
GT: How was the group of participants? How did you manage to integrate everyone?
Markus: The group was, as on every SU, very mixed. We had all kind of character from very open to rather shy and reserved people. Nonetheless it didn’t take very long until everyone took the shy side off and connected with the group. This year’s integration was, especially through the German language, very successful. Since we spoke mostly German – and also the participants with the same mother tongue – everyone could join and follow the conversation easily. This means that there was hardly any chance of the familiar group formations to take place.
GT: How was the cooperation and mood in the team?
Markus: All in all, our team has worked together excellently. It was a very good atmosphere in the team from the very first day when we got together to organize this SU. From the beginning it was clear to everyone what we were doing the work for and what our goals were. This contributed to the fact that we always worked at the highest level in the preparations for the SU. We also did two team building evenings, one of them two days before the SU started. At these we promised to give our best during the whole SU. Of course, not all of us in the core team had the same opinion all of the time. When that happened we took the time to talk about the problems and to solve them, so that they wouldn’t affect the SU or our participants. A special moment for me was the second weekend. I could not be in Aachen because of personal reasons. On those days Laura – the SU treasurer – and our incoming responsible Niko took care of all organizational and other tasks I would have had as Main Orga. Therefore, I would like to thank them again and apologize for all the stress they had.
GT: How was the romance factor of the SU?
Markus: True to the motto “a gentleman is silent and enjoys”, I will of course tell you everything. The romance factor of our SU this year was 35%, which means that we had 6 couples. I have already heard that some of them want to meet afterwards again. I will try to stay informed to provide more information. All in all I can say that we managed to make the German language a language of love.
GT: How successful was the SU overall?
Markus: I am very happy with the SU. Apart from minor problems that our participants didn’t notice, everything went as planned. So much from the Orga team and what I felt. Statements from experienced AEGEE-members, who have already taken part in some SU’s, like “this was really the best SU I was on” or “I don’t want to leave this place”, as well as statements from newer members who said “I think it can’t get any better” or “thank you, this was really an unforgettable time”, speak for themselves. That’s exactly what we have planned and organized for, almost every day in the last eight months. Especially in the two weeks during SU we didn’t get much sleep, but that was worth it.
GT: Anything you would like to add?
Markus: I don’t have much more to say. All I can say is thank you. Thanks to our participants who didn’t let themselves be scared away by the German language. Thanks to Anne, who also gave German lessons during her visit from SUCT. Thanks to all the helpers without whom we would never have managed this SU and finally thanks again to my Orga Team: Laura, Niko, Alex, Chris and Fabihahn.