20 Days of Memories:
Goethe Institut and PASCH German Youth Camp, Butzbach 2011
Courtesy: Shuprovo Arko
Looking down from the window, I was surprised when I saw Dhaka, the city that now looked small and so far away. I was still trying to take it all in as I sat on my passenger seat. I caught a glimpse of the golden boarding pass resting ever so gently between my fingers. The words “ TO: FRANKFURT” printed in bold black letters made me smile and I thought to myself “Yes! This is it, I'm going to Germany!”
I was one of the six students from Bangladesh chosen to participate in a German youth camp organised by the Goethe Institut and the PASCH Initiative , to be held near a town called Butzbach in the German state of Hessen, which is a few miles away from Frankfurt. My good friend Fahad Bin Faruque and I were the two representatives from Maple Leaf International School. The other two schools that were participating were Mastermind Chittagong and European Standard School (ESS). So in the early hours of June 12, 6 of us, accompanied by our teacher Ms Shampa, boarded the plane for our 16- hour-long journey. Excitement kept us wide awake and so, sleep was just not an option.
The first shock came through the second we landed at Frankfurt International Airport. It was 7 in the evening, but the sun was still beating down like an afternoon in Bangladesh! We learnt that the sun does not set in Germany until almost 10 pm. It was very strange and I never quite got used to it during the remainder of my trip.
At the airport, we were greeted by camp supervisors, Sejhana and Steffi, who answered all the questions we had. I soon came to know that the camp was going to have a total of 68 students from 6 countries: Bangladesh, India, Mongolia, Indonesia, Armenia and Colombia. A half an hour long bus ride awaited us as we made our way to the camp. We gazed in awe at the treasure-trove of natural beauty that is Germany. We finally reached the camp that we were going to be staying at for the next 20 days. At the heart of the camp was our hostel, Haus Bodenrod. Large and comfortable, we instantly made ourselves at home.
No two days at the camp were ever quite the same. I woke up early every morning, a large part of which I spent trying to wake up my Indian house mate and good friend, Parampal, who would respond to me by pulling his sheets over his head and saying, “Two more minutes, yaar!” Our German classes started from 9 am and continuing till 12:30 pm with a half an hour break in the middle. To any other person, this would seem like too much work, but when you have a fantastic teacher like Frau Agnes, time just flies away. Our classes were unconventional in the good sense, with singing, dancing and games, which all helped us get better at German and make friends with our foreign classmates.
Lunch began just after classes as everyone poured into the dining hall to fill their empty stomachs with continental food with an Asian twist for the Indians and Bangladeshis, who made up a large part of the camp. As is expected, European food never quite agrees with Asian taste, so the large part of lunch was spent sitting at our table and having fun with our Indian friends, although the occasional serving of pizzas and burgers made everyone rush to the buffet table! After lunch, we had our “Projekt” classes. There were four projects to choose from: Magazine, Blog, Theatre and Cooking. I took part in the project involving the publishing of a magazine for our German course. For sports, we had a number of options to choose from - football, basketball, volleyball, badminton and table-tennis being just a few. Talent shows, movie nights, parties with music and dancing, making postcards and even a live football telecast kept us entertained amidst the academics.
Perhaps the most enjoyable evening was when we had an International Evening where the students had to showcase their own countries. The Indians and Indonesians put up great shows with their dancing and singing skills respectively. I was probably the most nervous out of all the Bangladeshis because I was the anchor for the show. But the nervousness soon faded as the show commenced. We started off the show with the National Anthem, and then showed the video “Beautiful Bangladesh” showcasing the tourism potential in Bangladesh which left everyone in awe; this was followed by a couple of presentations and a traditional song from Bangladesh. My silly but entertaining anchoring earned me good compliments. That night I really felt that I had made my country proud!
Finally the day which we were hoping would never come, arrived. The last day was just plain sad. Now when I look back, I miss the late night snacking with the other students, gossiping with Parampal throughout the night, laughing hysterically at Amarjeet's jokes and even quarreling everyday with Palak about why “Science is not boring!”. I miss them all, and I would do anything to relive those few days all over again.
DID YOU KNOW?
John F Kennedy
At age 16, Former US President, John F Kennedy entered Choate, a boys' boarding school in Connecticut. He played tennis, basketball, football, and golf, and also enjoyed reading. His friend Lem Billings remembers how unusual it was that John had a daily subscription to the New York Times. His headmaster once noted that he had a "clever, individualist mind," though he was not the best student. He did not always work as hard as he could, except in history and English, which were his favorite subjects. John graduated from Choate and entered Princeton in 1935, but an illness soon forced him to withdraw. After months of recuperation, he transferred to Harvard in 1936. Because of his father's job, John became very interested in European politics and world affairs. After a summer visit to England and other countries in Europe, he returned to Harvard more eager to learn about history and government and to keep up with current events!
Information source: Internet.