Tag Archives: initiative

Social counseling

Sozialreferat_BildWhen I started to study, I didn’t realize how many different ways of volunteering there are. Since I had to give up my voluntary work in my hometown, I wanted to get involved again. A friend took me to the Sozialreferat at the University of Augsburg. From the beginning, I was enthusiastic about their ideas and I’m convinced that if they’re implemented, they’ll benefit students a lot. But see for yourself…

Timetabling
Timetabling is not an easy task, especially when you’re starting off. Often the lectures clash with each other or you have a job. Module handbooks, professors and even fellow students from higher semesters sometimes don´t make matters better either. Through our schedule support we – the Sozialreferat – want to give you advice and help you with various issues throughout the semester(s).

The Monday meeting (an informal  chat)
We offer an opportunity for an informal chat every Monday. We talk about all kinds of things (concerns, etc.) regarding university and personal things. Sometimes we just act as a sounding board so students get new ideas for their studies and replenish energy reserves. Sometimes you only need a sympathetic ear or an objective opinion to cope.

Seminars

Bafög-Seminar
In this seminar, students find out about the various ways of funding their studies. There are some sources which aren’t widely known about, such as study loans, scholarships or housing allowances. We also discuss how and where to apply for these “cash injections” and who is entitled to do so.

Future projects

Sozialreferat_2Social Foundation
Up to now, students here who are experiencing an emergency haven’t been able to apply for short-term loans. In certain situations, the Sozialreferat wants to make this possible. So we’re trying to convince the responsible ministry.

Psycho-social counseling
In this consultation, we hope to be supported by the Chair of Educational Sciences: in the “Counseling for schools” training course, students have to complete a one-week internship at a counseling center. We’d like to offer this internship on our premises.

Guidelines
With regard to the increasingly heterogeneous student body, a manual with the most important contact information, as well as tips for your studies is being planned. The purpose of this manual is to create a flexible problem-solving resource for students and to complement the work of current and future counselors and employees.

The first semester can be confusing and nerve racking in every way. Receiving timetable aid, for instance, is very important in order to plan your studies efficiently and is one of many factors that will make things less stressful. I still remember exactly how confused and overwhelmed I was in the first semester when I had to create my own schedule which was in the end not very effective. I wish someone more experienced had helped me at that time.

Now being part of the team I hope that we can achieve a lot and that students will benefit from our help. We’re there for you for all concerns and problems that occur during your daily student life. We offer you a wide range of services such as consultations, seminars or lectures.

 If you’d like to support us, please contact us and become part of our great team!

Author & Pictures: Carolin Steinke

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

 

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

“Mir schwätzat Schwäbisch” on International Mother Language Day

Herz-Schwäbisch“I hol mer zerscht mol en Kaffee in dr Kafede, sonschd schlof I glei wieder ei.” If you hear this at university in the morning, you might not understand it as a non-Swabian. Of course, there’s a wide spectrum of dialects in Germany, some of which aren’t easy for outsiders. Since our noble institution is located in the Swabian part of Bavaria, some of the residents speak Bavarian varieties (“Boarisch“), whereas others „schwätzat Schwäbisch“, with the river Lech as a linguistic border. Augsburg, as the capital of Swabia, has its own Swabian variety: Augschburgerisch. In fact, you will be easily detected as a „Zuazogner“, if you say Augsburg instead of Augschburg.

Regional dialects mix due to people moving within Germany and Augsburg is a city with a lot of transition, which, in turn, contributes to an individual’s own dialect, or idiolect. For example, I didn’t like hearing the answer „A Ebbserl und a Nixerl“, after coming home from school and asking what my father had prepared for lunch – as it literally means „ein Etwas und ein Nichts“, therefore nothing.

As a student of the University of Augschburg, the following sentences might be useful and help you not to be detected as a “Zuazogner” in the first place. When asked to take part in a Saturday afternoon class, every Augschburger teacher will accept the excuse “Do ka I leider eda, am Samschdag spielt dr FCA dohoim”. Other important sentences are “D Schdroßabah isch leider zspät komma” or “Auf dr B17 war mol wieder die Hölle los” to excuse yourself for being late.

Unfortunately, dialects are nowadays often smiled at or its speakers ridiculed. The Swabian dialect, because of the foreign and strange quality some people perceive in it, is particularly favoured for parodies of popular films (e.g. Star Wars: check out Virales Marketing im Todesstern on YouTube, where the Swabian dialect of the Imperial officers is infused with Business English) or even a new synchronisation of meetings of the Bundestag.

Held annually on 21 February, the International Mother Language Day was announced in 2000 by UNESCO “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world“. As dialects are varieties of a language, which differ in vocabulary, pronunciation and even grammar, they can sometimes be difficult to understand, even for native speakers. So we invite everyone in Augschburg to protect their local dialect and the words that are special in their own family! Dialects are something we inherit, they’re part of our cultural identity; we learn them from our parents and grandparents, neighbours and friends, so we should do anything to keep the tradition, even if it’s just a “bissle”.

Authors: Ariane Scheuer & Elena Mayr
Picture: Elena Mayr

Wings for Life

Participants seen during the Wings for Life World Run in Izmir, Turkey on May 8, 2016.
Participants seen during the Wings for Life World Run in Izmir, Turkey on May 8, 2016.

Some people think walking is a waste of time, but others dream about being able to walk or just move their legs, for example, those affected by spinal cord injuries. This condition takes away what most of us take for granted, the ability to walk. Sadly, those affected are incapacitated for the rest of their lives because there’s no treatment available. One research foundation, called Wings for Life, aims to find a cure for such injuries and has a unique way to gather support. It organizes a running event where everybody can participate anywhere.

Finding a cure

The founders of Wings for Life are the two Austrians Heinz Kinigadner, a motocross racer, and Dietrich Mateschitz, a businessman who co-founded the Red Bull Drink company. They were personally moved by the injury of Kinigadner´s son, which left him paralyzed from the neck down. Soon, they had to realize that not enough resources were being invested in finding a cure, so they started the non-profit organization.

factsHelping out

Wings for life organizes an annual charity run that takes place simultaneously worldwide. All the money raised goes towards research efforts for finding a cure to help the injured to walk again. This year the world run will take place on May 7th and costs €43. You can start training for the race now and be fit on time.

Run until you are caught

This isn’t your typical race with a set distance. Half an hour after the race starts, a so-called catcher car starts its pursuit, though very slowly at first. As long as the car doesn´t catch up with you, you´re still in the race. Since everybody has their own fitness level, the catcher car will gradually increase its speed after one hour until it catches up with everyone – except for one man and one woman, the world champions.

Race anywhere

The nearest official location to join the race is Munich. However, you can participate anywhere as a selfie runner by simply downloading an application to your smartphone that simulates the car catching up with you based on your GPS-tracked running distance. As a selfie runner, there’s no participation fee, but you’re encouraged to donate to the cause. Even if you decide you´re not ready to run yourself, you can still enjoy the race via a livestream from all official runs worldwide. So take this opportunity to enjoy the gift of health, and having strong legs that can take you anywhere you want, even closer to your dreams, and run for those who can´t.

For more information, check out: https://www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com/de/de/

Author: Annelise López de Schwarzer
Pictures: Redbull Content Pool

Don’t give up the fight

Tomorrow is probably the most important day of the year for some people. It’s World AIDS Day. There are more than 36 million people diagnosed with HIV worldwide who are invisible for the rest of the year. We don’t see them and we don’t even think about them, but why? What would you do if you met a nice person and after a while he or she tells you that there’s this thing called AIDS in his or her life? Would you leave them alone in this big and sometimes cruel world, or would you decide to stand above it and be a friend?

To understand what the World AIDS Day is about, we need to have a look into the past. Since 1988 the World AIDS Day has tried to inform society and create solidarity with slogans like “Kissing and hugging don’t spread HIV. Ignorance does.” as a reaction to the stigma people with HIV and AIDS suffer from. In addition, it tries to make people aware that the virus isn’t beaten yet. On this day, people all over the world fundraise in the form of dinner parties, bake sales, quiz nights or charity runs like they do at the Positive East’s Red Run on Sunday 27 November in London.

aidsAs a sign of your solidarity and to show your support, you can wear The Red Ribbon tomorrow, a red loop that indicates your awareness. Just put it on your bag or wherever you like. It’s very important to raise awareness in order to sensitize people and avoid the further spread of HIV and AIDS. But carrying the HI virus doesn’t mean you’re affected by AIDS. For example, 85% of people diagnosed with HIV in the UK are not infectious.

Back to the beginning, would you be a friend now?

“Don’t give AIDS a chance”!

Author & Pictures: Isabel Roth

It’s not about the money

We all know this problem: the desire to discover new places in the world, see as much as you can, but without much cash. So what do most backpackers do? They save their money on food: fast food, instant noodles or sandwiches. Anything that‘s easy to prepare and that fills your tummy.

But when I was in Sydney, I discovered a place where you can get really good restaurant food, even on a small travel budget. Lentil as Anything is a non-profit-making organisation which runs six pay-as-you-feel restaurants in Australia. Their philosophy is that everyone should have the opportunity to eat out and be social, regardless of their financial situation.

When you enter the restaurant, it’s a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The furniture is simple but modern, designed with much love and creativity. The walls are covered with paintings and other artwork. Every table has a menu that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on the time of the day. You might expect that the low costs mean it’s automatically self-service, but I was more than surprised that after a few minutes a friendly waitress came to our table to take our order.  We felt like guests at her house and she was inviting us for dinner.

The people working in Lentil as Anything are all volunteers or long-term unemployed. Or backpackers. For two weeks of helping out in the restaurant, backpackers can get free accommodation and, of course, a warm meal. And the meals are not only more nutritious and diversified, but also much healthier than a Big Mac Menu at McDonalds.

One aim of the restaurant is to promote multiculturalism, which is also reflected in the food. It’s basically a mix of everything. One customer is having Indian curry for breakfast, while at another table people are having scrambled eggs with bacon. And, of course, there are vegan meals too. And if you‘re still hungry, you can order the banana pancakes with syrup (which I can only recommend!). Before you leave, you can think about how much money you want to spend and put in in the box. And if you want or if you can’t spend anything at all, then you simply don’t put anything in the box.

Now you may be asking the same question that came to my mind after visiting this place: how can the place survive? Can, in today’s society, such a model make enough money to pay the rent, utilities and stock? Apparently it is. The philosophy has been working for over thirteen years now and in the last five years three new restaurants have been opened.

Surprisingly, people who visit the restaurant are not only homeless or backpackers, but also families with a normal income, who get the chance to take their children to a restaurant to enjoy good food more often. And that‘s how donations are collected.

So, for your next trip remember that a small travel budget does not necessarily have to mean that you can’t afford to eat out in a restaurant – the pay-as-you-feel philosophy is becoming more and more popular in all parts of the world, and who knows, maybe there‘s a similar place at your next destination 😉

Author & pictures: Carina Lamb