Schüleraustausch mit Lismore, Irland

Mythen, Elfen und Feen, Wiesen, Hügeln und Seen – neben landschaftlicher Abwechslung hat Irland auch eine große kulturelle Vielfalt zu bieten. Unseren Schülerinnen und Schülern der 10. Klassenstufe bietet sich die Chance, bei einem Schüleraustausch mit der Blackwater Community School in Lismore in die irische Geschichte einzutauchen und die irische Kultur im persönlichen Kontakt mit ihren Gastfamilien zu erleben.

Eindrücke vom Irland-Austausch im Schuljahr 2022/23

Dear readers, going abroad is always a rewarding experience and it allows you to learn more about foreign cultures, languages and societies – and, sometimes, you can even find out what elements of your everyday life at home you appreciate. This is why many students applied to the students´ exchange to Lismore, Ireland, which took place in Germany from 25th January to 3rd February and in Ireland from 1st March to 10th March.

In Germany, the Irish students were surprised by Heidelberg's size – in comparison to Lismore, a town with slightly less than 1400 inhabitants, it must have seemed huge to them. The trams and the rail network were also a novelty, since there are very few trains and trams in Ireland. But I had the impression that many of them felt comfortable here very soon, and the language barrier was traversed with relative ease. The lessons at the KFG, however, were rather difficult to understand for them, since they have been learning German for only a few years, but Mrs. Schrick and Mr. Abernethy, the two teachers who accompanied us in Ireland, and Mrs. Graw, the teacher who organised the exchange, made sure that the exchange students could enjoy themselves here instead of having to sit in boring lessons all day long: They planned multiple trips for them, e. g. one to Mannheim Castle and one to the Kurpfälzisches Museum, which allowed the students to get to know Heidelberg and its surroundings. But, even better, they also planned two trips where Irish and German students both participated, one to the Technik Museum Speyer and one to the Fireball bowling alley. These trips really helped to get to know each other.

In Ireland, one of the biggest surprises was the rural environment of Lismore: In Ireland, the second most populated city, Cork, has about as many inhabitants as Heidelberg, while Dublin, Ireland's capital, is slightly less populated than Stuttgart. As we travelled through the countryside, however, villages and small cities occasionally appeared, surrounded by vast green grass plains and sprinkled groves, with gentle mountains in the distance. The most fascinating part of the landscape was indisputably the steep coast, with cliffs up to twenty metres high.

But the Irish school system there also differed a lot from the German one, and I truly believe that we should consider a reform including some of their approaches: For example, P. E. is not graded, and the students can choose their sports themselves. This does not seem to demotivate the students, in fact, many students, including my exchange partner, were actively practising sports like rowing, rugby, hurling/camogie and hockey. The students are also able to freely choose four subjects for their last two years at school, which they will have as frequently as their three main subjects Maths, English and Irish, and they will not be taught in other subjects – they are more able to specialize.

Participating in classes in Ireland was not much of a challenge for us in my experience: Our English teachers had taught us everything we needed to understand the lesson (except the Irish dialect, which took a while to adapt to), and the topics we dealt with were mostly well known (not in Irish, Home Economics also known as Cooking, Agricultural Science and Accounting though). The motivation of the students in my exchange student's class was not the greatest as well, since they were in their Transition Year, where students were having lessons in every subject, doing many work experiences and grades were not as important. This year was meant to give students time to find their passions, but sometimes caused boredom instead.

More interesting than the lessons were the two trips to Cork, where we visited the Titanic Museum, and to Waterford, where we visited Waterford Crystal, Ireland's most prestigious glass manufacturer. The stories of the many Irish immigrants who entered the Titanic were truly tragic most of the time, since very few survived, the reconstruction of the Titanic's rooms was very impressive, and the part of the exhibition where the underwater archaeology that had been performed at the shipwreck's current location, 3800 metres below the waves, was explained, intrigued me the most.

A more pleasant view was the one we had when we visited both the production halls and the display of Waterford Crystal – I think it's very fascinating to see how the molten glass was brought in perfect shapes, and the display did not lack impressive pieces. In Waterford however, there was more to be seen, for example the model of a Viking ship, the impressive thrones and the giant chessboard, which attracted a lot of attention as well.

But there were many activities that had not been organised by teachers or parents, but mostly the students themselves; both in Germany and in Ireland: I participated in an evening dedicated to Irish Dancing in a pub, a Laser Tag game in an arcade hall, a hiking tour through the woods, a meeting at an ice rink, my exchange student's rowing training (where other students and their exchange stu-dents also participated) and I visited his rowing tournament (next time, I will participate as well though) while my exchange student visited a rehearsal and even little concert of my band – and these are just the events I participated in. From my impression, the Ireland exchange helped us far beyond improving our English: We met new friends, both Irish and German (because both 9th and 10th graders from different classes participated), and got a very detailed impression on life and culture in Ireland. If I had the opportunity, I'd definitely participate in the Ireland Exchange for a second time.

Theo Hörster (10d)