Полоцкий государственный университет

Polotsk
State
University

This autumn, on October 25-28, Polotsk State University hosted ХІ seminar “Open Germany for Yourself” (“Deutschland entdecken”) supported by the German Embassy in the Republic of Belarus. Without any doubt, it was the most significant and large-scale event of the German culture and language festival on Polotsk land.

“Deutschland entdecken”, a traditional event within the framework of the “German Weeks”, started its history in 2008. Polotsk State University was the first to host the event. 10 years ago, 50 specialists in Germanic studies from Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Minsk and Mogilev were our guests. It is a pleasure for us to be the first university to host this important event for the second time!

This year, 78 Belarusian students, 4 Ukrainian students and 11 native speakers came to Polotsk. Besides, among them were the students of non-linguistic specialties from BNTU, BSEU and other universities.

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Our guests went on excursion around Polotsk on the first day of the seminar. After dinner, our guests were invited to the evening event, where they could get acquainted, communicate and learn German dances.

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On October 26, a solemn a seminar’s opening ceremony was the main event of the program. Mr. Peter Dettmar, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Belarus and Ms. Jenny Ettrich, Head of Information Bureau DAAD, participated in it.

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Georgia Mattias, DAAD lecturer at PSU, warmly greeted all the participants and turned the floor over to Dmitry Lazovsky, Doctor of Engineering, Professor, Rector of PSU. D. Lazovsky expressed appreciation for the seminar contribution to the strengthening of mutual understanding between the Belarusian and German peoples. Besides, he wished the participants interesting and fruitful work.

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Then, Mr. Peter Dettmar, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Belarus, greeted the listeners. After that, the ambassador noted a significant progress, which had been made for the last two years in the political and economical spheres.

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Pointing out the “Deutschland entdecken” importance in Belarus, Mr. Peter Dettmar promised: “When I meet my colleague Denis Sidorenko, Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to Germany, for the next time, I’ll suggest trying a similar initiative in Germany to follow the principle of reciprocity.” Besides, he wished the participants successful work and expressed the hope that the interest in Germany and its language will increase after the days spent in Polotsk.

It has been 10 years of successful cooperation between Polotsk State University and German Academic Exchange Service already. Despite being very busy, Ms. Jenny Ettrich, Head of DAAD Information Bureau, participated in the solemn ceremony of the “Deutschland entdecken” opening. After her speech and a short description of DAAD organization, our guest presented a memorable gift with Belarusian identity to Georgia Mattias.

Mr. Peter Dettmar, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Belarus, made the first report. The report was on the topic Belarus-Germany Relations in the Cultural and Educational Spheres. Besides, he has personally contributed to the policy implementation of Germany in the educational and cultural spheres.

Mr. P. Dettmar drew attention of the seminar participants to the importance of the cultural politics for building a dialogue and contacts extension between the countries and nations: “For the 40 years of my work, I’ve had the opportunity to see that if the political and economic relations couldn’t be developed between countries for some reasons, then the work in the cultural sphere helped to maintain relations and take them to the next level. Thus, I suppose, external cultural politics is not the third, but the central factor that helps to establish relations between the countries.”

Mr. Dettmar’s report was about how Germany is going to realize the cultural potential. Thus, the main elements, according to his point of view, are Goethe-Institut, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and German partner institutions abroad.

The Ambassador expressed his hope that all the participants would study a semester or two at a German institute and, probably, get a master’s or doctor degree in his country. The reporter pointed out that Germany is committed to cooperation establishment. According to the Ambassador, this will help to take Germany-Belarus and Belarus-Germany relations to the next level.

Besides, Mr. Peter Dettmar was the person who supervised the basic principles for creating the initiative “Schools: Future Partners” launched in 2008.

Before he answered the audience’s questions, the Ambassador checked its knowledge in the sphere of German schools abroad. The first (and still working) was the St. Petri School in Copenhagen, founded in 1575. In addition, the largest German school in the world is College named after Humboldt (São Paulo, Brazil). 10 000 people study there!

The next part of Mr. Dettmar’s presentation was just as informative and useful. When he was answering the student’s question about the Belarusian student’s impact into the academic exchange intensification, he regretfully noted the insufficient efforts of Belarus in promoting its image in the world, which knows little about it. Besides, he pointed out that it was up to us to change it!

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An improvised photo session took place at the end of the solemn part. After that, the participants had dinner and Mr. Peter Dettmar went for an excursion around Polotsk College.

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The second part of the seminar included the report “Such Songs. How to Write Lyrics for a Song”. Nevertheless, the report of Holm Krieger, a singer of the group “Solche”, didn’t resemble a usual presentation on a conference.  Very soon, the report turned into an exciting show. During the show, the participants could both learn about the secrets of versification and take part in writing the lyrics for a song.

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Under the supervision of Holm Krieger, the creative process, which seemed chaotic and unpredictable, resulted in a song. It was accidentally called “Deutschland entdecken” at the beginning of the seminar, but closer to the end, it could really become the anthem of the seminar “Open Germany for Yourself”!

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A fun competition “German Rally” continued the program. 8 teams took part in it.

After supper, “Deutschland entdecken” moved to Novopolotsk club “Plastilin”. There was a concert of Belarusian group “Versiya” and their German colleagues from “Solche”.

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The last day of “Deutschland entdecken” was very busy as well. There were more than a dozen of seminars by choice, a workshop “My Germany: from a Student to a Student”, a presentation “DAAD Scholarships” and an excursion around Polotsk College. The seminar participants had an opportunity to learn more about interesting DAAD programs, shared their experience in studying in Germany, learned about modern cultural and social, social and political and economic German culture-specific elements.

The certificates were given to the participants and a sweet buffet was organized at the end of the “Deutschland entdecken”. On Sunday morning, our guests left Polotsk. We hope that our guests acquired not only the new knowledge, skills and acquaintances, but also good memories of Polotsk State University!

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Vladimir Filipenko

Photos: Vladimir Krivoborodenko, Polina Kosarevskaya, Maria Distanova, vk group “DAAD Belarus”