die Teilnehmer in der Kunsthalle

Artthuer Tour on 11. November

The Artthuer- Thuringia’s annual art fair- turned twenty years old this past year! The three day-long fair is the largest art festival in Middle Germany and showcases some of the best locally made art in the state of Thuringia. The Artthuer is not only a great place to buy local art, but also an opportunity to learn more about locally produced art. At the festival, artists and art-lovers alike network and connect over their shared love of art.

The Thuringian Association of Fine, who organizes the fair every year, invited “From Strangers to Friends” students to a tour of the festival. That Sunday afternoon, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed, we met in front of the fair. It was very crowded, and we had to wait in a long line just to get into the festival hall. Thankfully, it was well worth the wait. 

Once inside, Dr. Angelika Steinmetz-Oppelland gave out group a bilingual tour, in German and English, of the art exhibits. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that there are several, well-respected international artists within Thuringia. All in all, it was a very informative and entertaining afternoon- after the tour we made a toast, either with cups of coffee or glasses of wine, to the joy of art and international friendship. 

Asiatische Tanzgruppe

Welcome Evening at the Townhall in November

On the evening of November 9th, 2018, the banquet hall was again filled with local partners, students, and many other guests who had graciously accepted our Welcome Night invitation. Steffen Linnert, co-director of the City of Erfurt’s Department for Citizen’s Service, Society and Economy, gave the opening speech and warmly welcomed the new international students. Dr. Katrin Langer, the manager of the TIAW GmbH, acted as the moderator for the evening.

In-Kyung Lee, a “From Strangers to Friend” student, played the piano as our musical entertainment for the night. After his performance, In-Kyung and his host mom, or rather local partner, gave a presentation on their German-South Korean partnership experience. Their picture slideshow did a wonder job outlining the many benefits of “From Strangers to Friends” partnerships.

Our culturally orientated entertainment was provided by both the University of Erfurt’s chamber choir, directed by Michael Käppler, and the East Asian-German Creative Association- who performed a traditional Vietnamese dance.

Toward the end of the evening, time was allotted for the international students to get to know their new host families and/or local partners. We encouraged them to make plans to get together in the near future. In total we had more than 67 new students, who had just started their studies at the University or Technical College of Erfurt, from over 28 different countries. It was a privilege and an honor to be among the first to welcome them not only to Germany, but also to the lovely city of Erfurt. 

We are very pleased with the Welcome Evening’s positive turn out; next year will be even better!

Führung durch Buchenwald

Buchenwald – Excursion

This past October “From Strangers to Friends” together with Erfurt’s very own German-American Club (DAG) made a day-long excursion to the Buchenwald Memorial. Several DAG members and a few local “From Strangers to Friends” partners decided to drive, while the rest of the students and project coordinators took the train, and then bus, to the memorial.

Once everyone arrived, we were shown a short introductory film, in German with English subtitles, and then divided into two groups of twenty people. One tour was given in English and the other in German. After about two hours of walking through the cold foggy weather, we warmed ourselves in the cafeteria with hot food and drink.

On the way back to Erfurt, by both car and train, many students took the opportunity to visit Weimar.

Plakate zur IKW

IKW – Brand of Possibilities

Connection through diversity is the reoccurring theme of Intercultural Week, which took place in Erfurt from September 23rd to 29th of this year. Intercultural Week is a great opportunity not to only meet and connect with those of diverse backgrounds, but also to share and exchange differing worldviews. What is more, Intercultural Week openly demonizes racism, antisemitism, and similar forms of discrimination.

A highlight from this year’s Intercultural Week was the presentation given by the Honorary Office on “The Market of Intercultural Opportunities.” Many other clubs and organizations were also able to participate, including “From Strangers to Friends”. Each volunteer was given a small Tolkien of appreciation for their participation in Intercultural Week by the Honorary (volunteer) Department of Thuringia. 

The project “Our New Neighbors”, through the Thuringia Fund for Civic Engagement, helps those with immigration backgrounds, advocates for global hospitality, and actively seeks to build and cultivate a foreigner-friendly culture in Thuringia.

Domstufen zur Bistumswallfahrt

Intercultural Picknick 16. September

Willkommen, welcome, ترحيب, bienvenue, hoan nghênh, добро пожаловать, bienvenida, καλωσόρισμα, خوش آمدید, ښه راغلاست

The intercultural picknick took place a bright September Sunday afternoon near Domplatz, or rather the cathedral area. The motto of the event was ‘sharing.’ Everyone was encouraged to bring something to share- be it food, beverages or interesting conversation. Even “From Strangers to Friends” participated in the ‘sharing’ by planning and putting on the much-anticipated event.

The picknick was held shortly after the divine service (diocese pilgrimage). The clergy generously provided tables, water, flatbread, and fruit with us. So, in a very literal sense, the church also took part in our motto of ‘sharing.’

This year the special service (diocese pilgrimage) was about how to build solidarity with and have empathy for those in difficult situations around the world.  We found the topic of the sermon to be perfectly fitting for our intercultural picknick! All in all, we could not have asked for a better location.

Overall, the picknick was a great success: there was a plethora interesting conversation, delicious food, great music- thanks to Judy Bailey and Banda International- and even dancing. The intercultural picknick was not only a success for local partners and long-time students, but also for the newly arrived international students. The welcoming atmosphere and general merriment of the event was a great way for the new students to become acclimated to their new home.