Gegen einfache Wahrheiten

How would you define home? Can you have more than just one? Have you ever read a text written by a refugee? Are there ways of helping refugees escape the madness of German bureaucracy – at least for an hour a day? What’s it like teaching your own language and culture? And what do you learn about yourself while doing so? Do you believe everything you hear, read and see in the news? What about fake news? Are social media a more reliable way to get informed? How politically correct do you have to be and should we accept a lack of it?

All these questions were discussed on May 31st at the “Aktionstag: Gegen einfache Wahrheiten” held at the University of Augsburg and organized by the Faculty of Philology and History (http://www.presse.uni-augsburg.de/de/unipressedienst/2017/apr-juni/2017_090/).

20170531_172731-min

Asking

Twenty different seminars between 10:00 and 11:30 a.m. provided new input and an opportunity to discuss the different topics with other students and lecturers.

The seminar “Ich habe manchmal Heimweh. Ich weiß nur nicht wonach“, organized by the Fachschaft Komparatistik, was all about questions such as What is Heimat? Does everyone have one? Can we have more than one? How do we define the term and how does it feel to leave? Can we somehow relate to refugees who have had to leave the place they call Heimat? Are there maybe even more similarities than we would’ve thought?

While – of course – there were no concrete answers to all these questions, the discussion, including interviews with people who had moved, both within and across borders, was characterized by different views, funny anecdotes and many personal experiences.

 

Listening

The cultural event between 12:00 and 14:00 in HS I, moderated by Prof. Dr. Martin Middeke, was a colourful mix of musical contributions, presentations and readings.

Sadly, the band Jammu Afrika couldn’t perform, since their refugee-lead singer had to leave the country and go back to Senegal. Still, the band’s founder Markus Fleckenstein presented the project and played some recordings.

Anita Heckel read from her ‘parallel biography’ “Gratwanderung durch Gestern” and Prof. Dr. Miriam Zadoff gave an insight into living in Bloomington, Indiana, and teaching at the university after Trump’s election. Although we all recognize the worries of those Americans that didn’t vote for Trump, this personal report was touching and shocking at the same time.

“Milch ist der Zwilling von Teer / in weiß oder schwarz kann man lügen / Mutter schiebt ein Bonbon im Mund hin und her / Vater telefoniert mit den Fliegen“

Christina Rossi and her students presented their collage on this poem by Nobel prize winner Herta Müller.

Opera singer Cornelia Lanz presented her project “Zuflucht Kultur”. Together with Mazen Mohsen and three other Syrian refugees, she performed Arabic folk songs with the German translations and the audience fell in love with this music. One of these refugees, a Syrian girl, talked about how she experienced their dictatorial culture even in small groups of refugees in Germany and how lucky she is – and we should be – to live in a free and democratic country like this.

 

Acting

Between 15:00 and 17:00 pm, there were various readings and workshops in the city centre and, for example, a walk around the city highlighting important places related to migration.

 

Watching

At 6:00 pm, the movie “Willkommen bei den Hartmanns” was shown in HS I, followed by a panel discussion about how the movie reflects reality. Does it reflect Einfache Wahrheiten? Since the movie is a comedy, it deals with the topic in a slightly exaggerated fashion; maybe this is the right way to talk about a topic that’s not funny, because at least it’s a way to start raising awareness.

 

Authors and Picture: Sophia Brandt, Eva Sitzberger

 

Review Trend & Food and Street Food Festival 2016

Augsburg really seems to be becoming a food city. In 2016, the city had three food events. Trend & Food Augsburg, which took place at the Kongress am Park between April 15 and 17, was the first. It really had a lot to offer: bars, food trucks, candy, hors d’oeuvre, vegan 20160416_133415options and much more. And even though the Kongresshalle isn’t that big, there were a lot of different booths and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves. Whiskey, liquor and moonshine tasting were some of the fun booze-related activities you could indulge in. How about some tiny but delicious cupcakes? Sure! At some – if not most – of the booths, you could use the vouchers you got for paying to get in. This way you basically got all your money back and theoretically the entrance was free (with the early bird ticket at least).

Trend & Food was pretty small, but the bigger event was the Street Food Markt, which took place in May andCIMG8428.JPG between September 23 and 25, 2016 at the Gögginger Festplatz. Compared to 2015, there were almost twice as many booths and almost no waiting time at all. Everybody seemed to be crazy about those potato spiral thingies – they were delicious, but we couldn’t figure out if there were bread crumbs on them or not. The smoothie booth was a nice touch. I actually ordered the first Green Bull of the day. The pies, a ton of different versions of hot dogs, BBQ, pizza, Israeli and vegan booths also gave visitors an opportunity to try something new. One of my favorites was definitely the donuts: they looked, smelled and tasted like heaven! And if you were there early, you could easily get a very nice spot on a deckchair and enjoy the sun while nibbling on something yummy and drinking a cocktail, beer, smoothie or just plain water.

So… you might like to consider going to one of those festivals. It’s definitely worth it!CIMG8420.JPG

Author & Pictures: Susi Tallmadge

Things that happen on the tram

Monday, 7.40 AM. Fog pours into the streets and the square starts to fill up as another workday has just begun. People are accumulating on the platform, ready to fight. Yes, fight. Some of them are quietly staring at their smartphones, but expectation is hanging in the air. Then there’s a light chime. With its awaited, growing rustle, the tram appears at the beginning of the platform. The heads turn and follow automatically that cable-driven truck, everybody hoping to be the lucky guy who finds themselves in front of the sliding door. The tram stops. Time stops. The doors open and the melee pushes inside, grumbling and trying to reach the most longed goal at that moment: a free seat. After less than a minute of catch-as-catch-can each passenger has found their place in this little ecosystem on rails.

Equilibrium principlestram2

More than any other ecosystem, the tram needs to maintain a certain equilibrium during its urban rollercoaster ride. The public transport in Augsburg (aka AVV Racing Team) provides a unique service of balance training, thanks to sudden accelerations and abrupt braking, no matter if you’re sitting or standing. Grasping on to any possible object in the tram is the basic rule of such peculiar environment; it could be a pole, a strap or…another passenger. The latest extreme example of savage desperation to find the right equilibrium was a short woman who leant against another one’s breasts during the whole ride to Kö. No, the two women didn’t even know each other.

Fighting without referee

As we’ve already seen, the tram is a very “physical” space. A place where all kinds of dangerous studs-up tackles and nudges will never be subject to a yellow or red card. But not only body parts are involved. The most life-threatening weapon in this case is the backpack. These self-propelled bags are kind of their own life form, with the owner apparently not knowing the real bulk of what they’re carrying. Thousands of victims suffer on a daily basis: innocent noses, shoulders and backs which can’t even seek justice as what happens on the tram, stays on the tram!

tram1Riding into freedom

In some ways this is the secret beauty of the tram: anyone is free to do what they want during the ride. You can listen to a wide variety of languages spoken by passengers, whether they are tourists or foreign inhabitants, or you can turn on you MP3-player and pretend to be in a music video. You can chat with interesting urban philosophers or chat on your smartphone, keeping an eye on your neighbor who is probably craning his neck to snoop your messages. You can look out of the window or steal a glance at other passengers… Oh no. That old man’s wearing tight shorts…Without underpants… I must get off. “Ding dong. Next stop: Cathedral”. Thank God!

Author & Pictures: Veronica Armellini

A whole zoo at university

This term in class we’ve been observing different types of students’ behaviour. This might be of special interest to those of you who are going to become teachers. Of course, we don’t want to dissuade you from becoming a teacher, but it’s always good to be aware in advance, right?  And please don’t feel offended! The descriptions are slightly exaggerated and/or ironic. So have a laugh  – with us, at us, at yourself  – and have fun!

Word_CloudThe chatterer

Yeah, you all know them – those students who can’t keep their mouth shut for one minute. They just have to talk all the time, usually not about the topic being discussed, and in the case of a language course, not necessarily in the language in question!

The “churchmouse”

Church and university are different, of course, but a “churchmouse” is the opposite of the chatterer: a student who doesn’t say a word in class, at least not voluntarily.

Teacher’s pet

If teachers don’t have a pet at home, they may well have one in class. The so-called teacher’s pet hangs on a teacher’s lips, always does the homework and maybe even some extra reading, knows the answer to practically every question in class, and, naturally, does well in the final exam (grrr!).

The show-off

This is a student whose hobby is trying to impress fellow students, but especially the teacher, by either asking super-intelligent questions or permanently challenging the other students’ comments.

The techie

Jodel, Facebook, WhatsApp and whatever… the opportunities provided by modern technology are highly recommendable to all those students who love to distract themselves in class. Fortunately, the documents on Digicampus are still available after all, so there is yet another excuse to use technical devices in class…

The distraction seeker

How can students avoid boredom in lectures, without using any technical devices? Some are quite creative, and think of great activities, maybe taking a low-tech step back in time: writing poems, translating song lyrics, knitting or whatever else they might do to keep themselves busy while (more or less) pretending to listen to the lecturer.

Of course, the list could be continued endlessly.  Recognise yourself? Or is your type of student still missing? Maybe you can think of others. Observe your fellow students – we promise that it’ll be fun (certainly an entertaining activity for distraction seekers – maybe this was how we got the idea of writing this article in the first place)!

Authors: Anita Hauzenberger & Philipp Soballa
Picture: created with tagul.com

Tout un symbole

A l’heure où certaines volontés de repli identitaire au niveau européen se font de plus en plus entendre, où certains responsables politiques, surfant sur les vagues de peurs engendrées par une soi-disant crise de l’immigration sur le sol européen, ont de plus en plus voix au chapitre, à l’heure où l’Union européenne connaît sa première crise identitaire, incarnée par le tout récent Brexit, l’eMAG a choisi de prendre le contre-pied en s’ouvrant aux autres langues. Tout un symbole : un geste d’ouverture, de partage, d’unité dans la diversité des langues du Sprachenzentrum.

Unis (pas uniformisés !) dans la diversité, c’est bien là le plus grand défi de l’Union européenne. Au sortir de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, la construction d’une union des États européens est apparue comme étant LA solution afin d’assurer la paix, la croissance économique, la promotion des libertés, et ce de manière durable. Mais l’union européenne devait se faire rapidement, et c’est la voie économico-politique qui a été préférée : la possibilité d’une union d’abord humaine, sociale et culturelle aurait demandé beaucoup trop de temps. Or, c’est de cette dernière dont, à mon avis, le manque se fait le plus sentir et dont l’UE a le plus besoin actuellement.

A eux seuls, les rapprochements économiques et politiques ne peuvent pas construire une identité européenne, même s’ils peuvent apporter un élan aux volontés de complémentarité et d’ententes. A mon sens, la construction d’une identité européenne a besoin de « temps long » couplé à des actions quotidiennes venant des citoyens européens eux-mêmes. L’identité européenne doit venir « du bas », de ses fondations : ainsi, les manifestations Pulse of Europe, par exemple, se multiplient.

Mouvement européen citoyen, au-dessus des partis, les manifestations Pulse of Europe, dont le but est de défendre les valeurs démocratiques et de promouvoir le projet d’une UE forte, ont lieu chaque dimanche dans de nombreuses villes européennes. Augsbourg a d’ailleurs accueilli Pulse of Europe le 2 avril, pour la première fois, et continuera à être le témoin de ces rassemblements tous les dimanches sur la place de l’Hôtel de ville. C’est, pour vous, Européens convaincus, l’occasion d’aller échanger et proposer vos solutions en prenant la parole publiquement : donner de la voix et manifester son attachement à l’UE, comme il est écrit sur le site pulseofeurope.eu.

Ouvrir l’eMAG aux autres langues et cultures du Sprachenzentrum contribue d’une certaine manière à construire l’Europe. Et si, à l’image du geste de l’eMAG, l’université devenait finalement le lieu privilégié de l’intégration et de la construction européenne ? Et si les 20 millions d’étudiants environ, actuellement sur les bancs des universités européennes, devenaient finalement 20 millions d’ambassadeurs potentiels des valeurs européennes à travers l’Espace européen de l’enseignement supérieur ?

Author: Christophe Lips

Let’s walk with King Julien

Since 2008 visitors to the zoo in Augsburg have been able to walk with a ring-tailed lemur. This lovely creature will accompany you in one of the most beautiful experiences in your life. These creatures are really friendly with people, they jump and run free and, with some luck, they will land on your back or shoulders. But don’t try to touch them! As beautiful and smooth as they seem to be, they’re wild animals and can bite.

lemurThe origin

These animals are part of the family of strepsirrhine primates and are extremely vocal and have unique calls to warn about predator species, for group communication, for location, feeding and being lost. Their vocalizations consist of meows, clicks, yaps, screams, purring, squeaks and moans: as you will see in the zoo, the Augsburg lemurs are very communicative. They spend a lot of time sunbathing and playing with the other members of the group. Unfortunately, their conservation status is considered endangered by the IUCN Red List (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/11496/0), the main threat to their population being habitat destruction.

The origin of the name and popular legends

Their name refers to the Latin word lemurum, meaning spirit. Because of their name, they play a part in legends in Roman mythology. People believed that the animals were the restless spirits of the undead. They thought proper burial of their loved ones would help to prevent this. Seeing a lemur was often viewed as an omen that something terrible was going to happen. It’s also because of the popular origin of such stories, though, that their very existence is threatened, as villagers hunt and trap them. They also take money from hunters that come for the thrill of killing the legendary lemurs of Madagascar.

Ring-tailed lemurs become famous: the film Madagascar

These little animals have become familiar to us after the film, Madagascar, which introduced the figure of the lemur, King Julien. After this, many people began to be interested in the creatures. Then a big research project worldwide about these creatures came into being, and in many zoos in the world you can walk with them and study their behaviour as if they were in the wild. Therefore, although these animated films are fun and delightful, they don’t depict the true nature of lemurs, of course, but, if seen in combination with other animated films and documentaries, they’re a useful tool for educating people about the needs of the species.

Author & Picture: Althea Mandelli

Are you a ‘Faschingsmuffel’?

fachingI always feel like a stranger in my hometown Füssen in the Allgäu. The reason for this is simple: Fasching, the traditional carnival in southern Germany. But thankfully, the Fasching euphoria in Füssen is rather moderate compared to the villages surrounding it, like Buching, Hopferau and so on, which you most certainly don’t know if you’re not from the area.

Reasons to dislike Fasching

But why is that? I simply don’t get it. Okay, some of the costumes at the parades are in fact quite funny but – in my opinion – the majority aren’t. Most of the costumes are even worse! Hordes of badly-dressed cowboys and Indians! For every creative costume produced after hours and hours of work, there are hundreds of boring Wild West reenactments. And then there’s the horrible music. Every year, the same tasteless Schlager playlists penetrate my ears and leave me speech- and breathless (“Atemlos”…)! But for most people at Fasching, it doesn’t matter, since the majority of people just need a reason to get drunk and – even fasching.worse – they can’t cope with being drunk and behave aggressively.

Any chance of escape?

You might be wondering if it’s possible to escape from this madness. Well, if you’re living in one of these previously-mentioned Fasching strongholds, there’s only one way to do so: build yourself a soundproof air-raid shelter. Sorry. If you’re lucky and you live a safe distance away from these danger areas, take advantage – stay away and let the others have their fun. Tastes differ and so do ideas about what a good party looks like.

By the way, in case you have to hand in a seminar paper or something similar by the end of February, see the positive side of it: in the library, you’re safe from drunkards in fancy dress and Helene Fischer.

Authors: Thomas Kienast, Sebastian Reimann
Pictures: Noemi Hehl