I have been working in the school for quite some time now. From creating a tiny exhibition in the libraries window over sewing the costumes for the theatre play to just helping in German or English classes I’ve been doing lots of different things. It’s a bit difficult to find a way to be integrated and really mingling with the kids in the tight schedule of the school year, and I do have periods during the week, in which I don’t have a lot to do. But in general I have found that the kids (I wouldn’t say the same about all the teachers) are very open and interested. When I was having a German course during the holidays, I was surprised by the number of children who showed up and participated with actual motivation. I don’t think you could motivate any kid I know from home to do anything connected to school during the holidays. So I was very happy with that unexpectedly open approach the kids were showing towards a bit of knowledge of the German culture and language. Maybe that’s a cultural difference, but they definitely enjoyed my games even though they were on holidays. There are some boys from fourth grade who still say “Guten Tag” and “Kommando Bauch” whenever they see me. Also I probably learned as much Slovene as I taught German during that intercultural Enka, Gummitwist and Simon Says (or: Kommando Bauch) experience.
The most prominent difference I can name is the fact, that students have to wear slippers in school until the end. I swear I haven’t worn slippers since kindergarden. But that habit does fit my picture of the way schools are much more carefully looked after in Slovenia than in Berlin. In Berlin we had teachers and children and a few always grumpy old cleaning ladies and caretakers who looked like they have never seen the sunlight. Here in Slovenia they have all these fancy employees, like a lady who is only in charge of the library or someone who watches the entrance. Also our „school library“ back home consisted of one class set of an old edition of Goethes Die Leiden des jungen Werther. And I am one hundred percent sure we didn’t have a school own washing machine (as we never even had toilett paper in high school).
But there are also things I would miss as a kid here. Firstly: the big breaks. We always had two breaks, one for twenty minutes in the morning and a second one for about fourty minutes around midday. And that ment, as soon as the bell rang all kids from all grades ran out to the schoolyard and didn’t stop running until the next bell rang. That’s were the important things happend in my time at school. The other thing I would miss are the school trips. The money my school saved on toilett paper and books (Berlin is poor) they spent on trips. Since I was three years old I went away each year for one week in June. First with kindergarden to a place just outside Berlin, then with primary school to a lake in Brandenburg (and in sixth grade to France) and later with highschool to Brandenburg, England and France again. It always was a big adventure and I think it’s were we learned for life. It’s probably also the reason I’m such a travel addict now.
So I think in general we were a bit more wild and free in school in Berlin, but on the other hand I find it so cute the way all kids here in school are really polite and always say Hello and Goodbye when you run in to them in the hallway.
Josephine, EVS volunteer at OŠ Ivana Cankarja Trbovlje and MCT