15.11.2018 • Neha
It has been almost one and a half month when I and my bestie -Priya Kumari embarked on our trip to Wonderland, i.e Germany on 28th September for a summer school, which was organised by Bielefeld University along with DAAD. The mesmerizing 16 days journey from 29th September to 14th October when reflected upon still gives me butterfly like feeling in my stomach.
I wrote about my summer school in Aachen last year too, but this year I have chosen to write in a retrospective mode as I wanted to see how it would be walking down the lanes of Germany sitting in a distant country India. I must admit it is a trove of magical moments. When I have come so far from the events, that the vivid details seem like flickering lights, the emotions evoked remain profound. So many memories gush in when I sit to write or research about the factual details of the museums I visited there, so much so that I get lost mid-way, I want to walk on those roads yet again, feel that gust of winds yet again, sunbathe under the sapphire sky and most of all bring back all the friends together on a table or for a stroll. Though its wordy manifestation ducks me but nonetheless I will give it a shot.
While travelling I was so engrossed savoring the present that I did not even want to blink for the fear of missing something. The most heart warming will always be the hospitality and affection showered by our German organizers and German participants. To get us acquainted with the city our professor took us on a city tour and invited us all to his home, to have a good start, so that we could gel as a team and some fruitful exchange can take place when we see each other in the seminar daily.
In India we say “Athithi devo bhava”, which mean guests are God, i.e they should be served the best. I felt this expression of thoughtfulness and concern when on our last day as the farewell party was still going on, our Prof. offered to drop Priya and me at the Flixbus stop owing to the fact that it was weekend and not many tramps ferry late at night. He wanted to ensure our safe and hassle-free departure. Priya and I though moved by his gesture, felt a pinch, thinking about his back pain, when he picked our heavy luggage to put it in his car and later made space for it in the bus as our hands were already full. He dodges his more than sixty years of age, we have seen him active, youthful and bubbling with high spirit. When we visited the museum in Worpswede, the fatigue from the long walks has taken over us, but our Professor was still wearing that bright smile and explaining the participants the history of that place and the art pieces. But a few days later he got some severe back pain, still coming to the university riding on his bicycle. He really is an inspiration-his zeal and dedication to impart his student his encyclopedic knowledge as well provoking them to reflect on life and why literature should be given its due, being the refuge it is, sought when modern mechanical mundane monotonous life has taken its toll on us.
Whenever we encountered any problem the other student organizers were our go to people. They were cheerful and brought in the fun element when sometimes the themes discussed seemed too complex. It would be cruel of me if beautiful Anna was not thanked here. She used the chalk as her wand and captured lucidly whatever was presented by the groups of participants and the summaries of the day long discussions presented by our Prof.
The seminars were well structured and planned. We were given the schedule for the seminars and excursions beforehand along with the reader to equip us better for the complex themes, which were going to be discussed and delineated- as they ranged from literature to arts, dance to music, architecture to paintings, science & technology to philosophy & religion at around 1900. They gave us an overview of the underlining changes at that time and solution and answers sought and offered.
A lot of thought and effort must have been given to planning the three engaging excursions. They drew on the theoretical aspects discussed in the class and made the discussions more comprehensive and tangible. More light on the excursions will be shed in the upcoming blogs.
All summer schools are organised to endow the students with the opportunity to know Germany through their own experience but the other important aspect for me is that they cast deep impressions on us, making us global citizens. In this summer school six nations came together- India, China, Japan, Poland, Italy and of course Germany.
When so many cultures are brought together on one platform- the exchange is incredible – the way the people from different origins see a text with their eyes loaded with different background knowledge. Bit by bit the myths that you have acquired about other societies get busted, when your friends narrate how it feels to be in their countries. When you live under the same roof too and come together almost every night to cook in the same kitchen, with aroma of different cuisines, all at a time, that clanking of utensils and chattering of different tongues in a warm cozy kitchen in the basement area of the Wohngemeinschaft– it is a feast for the eyes, tongues and ears. You do not feel like a tributary flowing into a river but a part of a big ocean- the feeling which you will embrace and carry back home. That is why though far away, it feels like yesterday.