Stage 5: We go out in the world together

As the boys began to drift apart, because they were integrated into youth WGs where they were usually the only foreigner, we decided it was time to stabilize their own internal identity. Some of them had begun giving themselves European names, despairing of anyone remembering their given names, and thus risking losing their own contact or developing a split.

Having had them turn the tables on us at the beginning of the previous summer and having to completely re-calibrate our program in mid-stream and to do so without losing our funding, we decided to ask them to help us write the proposal this time. At a party we gave them a number of options and they chose to work on a school newspaper. They were no longer in the same schools, but that didn’t really matter.

So we wrote a proposal for a project entitled (the whole program): “do you know who I am?” (WDWIB) and we used the quiet frustration expressed by one of the boys during a tutoring session: “I am not just a refugee!” as the title of our project.

We integrated the preparatory work on the units for grammar school kids on Islamic culture into the program (see the brochure online, link below) and were able to win the support of two writers,

  • a journalist from here who taught them about newspapers and got them going with their first efforts (one an immediate success and another drowning)
  • and a professor of creative writing who had been a teacher all her life and was last seen as the principal of an alternative school in the States.
  • she brought with her an IT-specialist and bio-farmer! who also supported us with translations.

Then we got the Benedictine Monastery in Maria Laach on board and they, as part of their support of refugees, offered us two weeks of room and board!  WDWIB came through with the train fare, and so you see above some of the boys pushing the tables and benches they had just help take down (in the rain) after the annual fair at the monastery.

We had a program consisting of writing workshop in the morning and cultural activities organized by my US colleague and the bio-farmer in the afternoon.

The first week the writing concentrated on identifying personal characteristics of a group member and writing a brief profile of them, writing a profile of oneself (something the teacher could tell her husband about them), which then progressed to letter writing (describing Berlin to a friend who would be coming to visit) and finally to the analysis of a text from the previous work with the newspaper reporter, using a network method (mind-map), and then in the following week the use of that method to create a new text on another topic from those we brainstormed.

During the second week each of the boys chose a topic on which he would attempt a larger piece, building it up using the network system (main idea in the middle, sub-topics in bubbles around it) and would re-write it, discussing it with a person of his choice between versions. That was quite challenging,

The afternoon program was a combined effort of

  1. our bio-farmer, who found the most interesting things for the guys to do, including :
  • a visit to the volcanic museum (earth)
  • several trips to the local pool (water)
  • a trip to Koblenz with a ride on a gondola (air)
  • and a grill party at the local youth hostel (fire)

and lots and lots of physical activity (plus talks on ecology during the walks to and from the activities). Blessings!

2. My colleague from the US who organized visits to the sub-contractors of the monastery:

  • the orchard
  • the fishery
  • the hotel
  • and the monastery also gave us a wonderful tour complete with organ and bells, which impressed the guys no end!.

You’ll find the results of both the grammar school program and

the writing in our online publication at:          Password teppich (klein geschrieben / all lower case))

There you can also see the first results of the program for the school. You can learn more about that on our website:


Sorry, that’s in German for the moment.

See under pedagogy for the final event and the subsequent program development.

We would like to acknowledge the support of this part of our work by the Project WDWIB (Weisst Du, we ich bin?)  sponsored by the German Ministry of the Interior and, especially our partner Pfarrer Bornemann, Pastor of the 12-Apostles-Church in Berlin.

For an update on our current work see:

poets’ club

Sorry, that’s in German and is addressed to the youth, but it will give you an overview of what we’ve been doing in the interim.

For the Programm Sommer 2022 click hier.