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Project of the month: Indian German Exchange

  • post Type / Young Humanists International
  • Date / 26 July 2008

Indian – German – Exchange program
The Humanist Freethinker Association Havelland has an outer school organized exchange program for 12 years now together with the Atheist Centre from Vijayawada/India. The theme of the initiative for this year, which will be held from 23rd August till 6th September 2008 in Germany, is “Tolerance”, based on the International Tolerance Campaign of IHEYO in 2007. 
 This intercultural tolerance project will proceed over a 14 days exchange visit, with as its main activity five days of project work in two schools in the district region Havelland, one ordinary school and one school adopted to support people with special needs. In the first days of the exchange, the Indian guests will do excursions, organize interactive discussion rounds and they will actively take part in cultural events.

During these introduction activities the youngsters will gain new impressions and experiences of both social and youth work in Germany, and they will discover new education and learning possibilities so that they can develop specific ideas for their own tolerance project. Cultural, political and social similarities and differences will be used as discussion basis. The results of this project work will be presented in a final event, which will be open for the public and will promote an open, tolerant and peaceful society. The cooperation between both schools as well as both humanist organisations helps building bridges between two different school types and through that to a tolerant behaviour, an interactive understanding and a personal communication between all the youngsters. In close arrangement with the headmasters, teachers and the Indian partner – the Atheist Centre – the project contents will be discussed. This content is related to typical German school subject issues that are also threated in India. Students and Indian guests will work together in small working groups on specific themes. Both, their language and rhetorical skills will be enhanced in this way. Furthermore their own social competences will be educated and trained through the interaction with a different social surrounding and culture.

Not only the hosting of one or two Indian friends, but also the organizing and coordinating of daily schedules and arrangements require lots of responsibilities and self-control from the German youngsters. This intensive time will encourage and strengthen their engagement and interest in working with different cultures and people.

This exchange offers a platform for young people that influence their personal development, that can lead to an indepth reflection of their dreams, wishes and experiences, and that can be the start of critical thinking and higher sensitivity to their world view and social status inside their society.

The experiences of the participation youngsters will make them multipliers in their own life and country to decrease stereotypes against different people, traditions and cultures, to raise understanding and to offer a secure place to discuss about different opinions and experiences in life. Themes of these discussions can be woman in society, arranged marriages, religion, history, personal backgrounds etc. This initiative will hopefully strengthen the youth participation and interests in social actions for a social change. Active integration is possible through small steps and though we maybe reach a small amount of youngsters, it is a step in the right direction.

Last years exchange programs are marked through an intensive preparation time before and follow up time after each project. Meetings with both schools, internal discussions in each partner organisation, program coordination – these are all points of a good structure for the next exchange round. The integration of young people out of the district Havelland is one of the most important. After the exchange is over the HFH will organize each year one or two remember meetings to talk about new experiences, content and personal development and opinions. Next to that they try to realize a widespread public work to be recognized in their surrounding as well.

The Atheist Centre is preparing their group in a similar way. – 13th October – 27th October 2007 India: youth exchange in India under the theme: “Interactive creating of the educational surrounding in an Indian school” – 09th August – 23rd August 2006 Havelland/Germany: 10 years German – Indian – Exchange, Project „Working places of young people in Germany and India“ including a two days practical working time, a week workshop to create a libretto for the international youth exchange, a public Indian cultural day, photo-exhibition „Faces in India“ – 03rd October – 17th October 2005 India: Reconstruction work and support of ASM (disaster management project of the Atheist Centre) in the Tsunami area – preparation and distribution of food packages after the floods as well as planting mangrove trees as a bank protection against wind and storm. – 28th August – 11th August 2004 Havelland: Visit of social projects (schools, hospitals, youth clubs), workshops – 02nd February – 15th February 2003, India: visit of social projects in India, project days about economical themes with Indian children and youngsters -…2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996… The Humanist Freethinker Association and the Atheist Centre are both full members of IHEYO. 

The “Humanist Freethinker Association of Havelland” (short: HFH) stands for a free philosophy of life. In the HFH people meet, sharing a nonreligious sight of the world and wanting to live in a humanist and tolerant way. The HFH stands for tolerance, peace, social justice, liberty for people who live and/or think different and for the self-responsibility of human beings.

Main work belongs to social aid: in the fields of life aid and counselling, youth work and support the elder. The HFH has a soupkitchen for homeless and poor people, we care for the addicted and the welfare of social weak persons. We also organize celebrations in a nonreligious way (like humanist youth celebrations, weddings, funerals etc) and educational and international activities (trips, workshops, exchange).

Post Address: Karl-Thon-str. 42, 14641 Nauen, Havelland,

Tel: 0049-(0)33211450746, Fax: 0049-(0)3321450747,
E-mail: freidenker-havelland@web.de.

Atheist Centre is a social change institution founded by Gora and his wife Saraswati Gora in the year 1940 at Mudnur village in Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh, India. On the eve of the Independence to the country, Atheist Centre was shifted to Vijayawada in 1947 and since then it has been the hub of activity for promotion of atheism, humanism and social change. Atheist Centre carries on its multifarious activities with the cooperation and good will of the people. Since the demise of Gora in 1975, Atheist Centre carries on all its activities under the able guidance of Ms Saraswathi Gora, the co-founder of the Centre. She is assisted by the dedicated team of people who are engaged in the promotion of atheism as a way of life. Atheist Centre is actively engaged in Secular Social Work activities for comprehensive rural development and rendering assistance to people to develop an alternate way of life on secular and humanist lines. The Centre maintains live-wire contact with the humanists, atheist, secularists, rationalists and social change workers in different parts of the world.

Atheist Centre, Benz Circle
Vijayawada 520010, AP, India
Phone: 91-866-247-2330
PO Fax: 91-866-248-4850
atheistcentre@yahoo.com

Two participant statements:

EXPERIENCES FROM THE EXCHANGE I can’t believe the time was off like a flash that the youth from Germany came and left this October. I had fascinating experiences for two weeks that I spent. I could recollect all the time with the previous teams from Germany. I also cherished the moments of my visit to Germany in 2004 and 2006. The team was very energetic and enthusiastic that the entire time was well planned and we could do the maximum possible. The most memorable time for me with the team was during the FM Radio program. I was the ‘radio jockey’ for the program. Most of us were on radio for the first time. So it was a great experience where we could share our experiences to the public. The outcome of the two days workshop was very useful and informative for me. I learnt many things about the German lifestyle, culture, and society and in reciprocation I could share many things about India to them. I took the team to my college (NITHM) in Hyderabad where I could showcase how a National Institute of tourism and hospitality management works. The best part of the exchange program that are happening for the past eleven years (1996-2007) is that we mix up very well with the Germans whoever comes here and the relation is very friendly. I am very happy that this program is continuing further and I am looking forward to be a part of this exchange team again. My both visits to Germany were great learning experiences as I could take many things from Germany be it punctuality, discipline and self conduct. It gave me an opportunity to form loving families there and great associations with people. I grew with the exchange program from a boy to an adult and it gave me huge exposure. Finally I can say it loud that the association with the Germans with the youth exchange program makes my heart say “Germany is my second home”. Hasil Gora, Pursuing BBA ( bachelor of business administration) in National Institute of Tourim & Hospitality Management (NITHM),Hyderabad , INDIA, Member of Atheist Centre, Vijayawada

One (different) world In October 2007 a youth group of the Humanist Freethinker Association Havelland was visiting once again their partner organisation Atheist Centre in Vijayawada in South India. The goal of that travel was to get more knowledge and understanding about our world through cultural, humanist and personal exchange and experiences. As a member of the youth group I was introduced to many social projects of which I was mostly impressed by the HIV/Aids-projects. The first time in my life I had a conscious contact to HIV-infected people and most of them were kids. It was a very strange feeling as I did not know how to behave. These kids who were students in a school with and without infected other kids, were really excited about the visit and presented songs and dances to us, but also made us really sad with their life stories. One of the girls had lost most of her family through Aids and she was crying as she told about that. That moment I will never forget. The students got my big respect as they go into different villages while their holidays and educate and do prevention work among the village people about HIV/Aids. It happens quite often that they were hunted and blamed as people have less knowledge about HIV/Aids and see this illness as a punishment sent by God. But the children take that open minded and naturally, what impressed to the bottom of my heart. In another project of the Atheist Centre they are taking care of grandmothers and the orphaned grandchildren. Also here Aids has a tragic impact on their life. In cooperation with PLAN international the Atheist Centre takes care of hundred different villages. In one of the villages we visited our family foster child Lalitha. She was very happy about our visit and showed us with pride her school books, her village, friends and family meanwhile her big dark eyes were ablazed with happiness. That is just a short selection out of many impressing experiences, which attached me a lot. I am eagerly waiting for the next Indian youth group, which will visit Germany in August 2008. Stefan Mueller, German youth exchange group, 20 years old


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