What a week! From may, 21st until may, 28th the group of Servitus volunteers gathered in Řehlovice to spend together the yearly evaluation seminar. Aaron, Anna and Anna, Betty, Christian, Clara, Hannes, Joke, Lucas, Nora, Rebeka, Urla as well as we, Zuzana and Klaudia from the Prague office, enjoyed a wonderful time cooking, laughing, reading, learning, discussing, hiking, thinking and simply being.
The kulturní centrum Řehlovice is an old farm 10 km from Ústi nad Labem and has been renovated by Lenka Holíková and her family since 1996. It has become an intercultural meeting point for mainly Czech-German-Austrian groups.
We started the programme with an interactive workshop on crossborder history. Řehlovice is situated in the historical Sudetenlands which makes this region an interesting area for German volunteers in the Czech Republic. In order to involve also our volunteers from Hungary we prepared a workshop dealing with Czech-German and Hungarian-Slovakian border-crossing relations in the past and present.
The volunteers independently worked on topics like „German-Czech relations in the Habsburg empire“, „The escalation of Hungarian-Slovakian relations during World War II“ and „The Czech-German realtions after 1989“. For about 2 days the group was studying prepared articles and books dealing with their chosen topics or they researched online. We finished with a chronological presentation of all suptopics which took a long time in the end but which eventually gave us an overview on the historical developments and reasons for nowadays relations between the three mentioned countries.
We completed this part of the seminar with a hiking trip to disappeared former Sudeten villages in the region. Ondřej Matějka from the organisation „Antikomplex“ introduced us to the idea of vanished places in the former Sudetenlands and then led us to one of those places called Ptačí. It was a wonderful trip for the group with great weather and nature combined with historically interesting information and discussion.
The second half of the seminar the group partly was devided into subgroups of ASF and EDYN. The two groups seperately evaluated the individual volunteers projects, talked about special orga details such as EVS and summercamps.
In the evenings and during the self prepared breakfasts and dinners we met and enjoyed the time as being ONE group. We all remember one night, when we prepared our own outdoor stone baked pizza and got then surprised by a huge thunderstorm. It was a great night that we finished dancing!
One evening there was a presentation on Roma history which is an important topic for the Czech society. We underestimated the role of this topic for the Hungarian participants though. There was an emotional discussion on how to talk and think about the Roma-Gadze-relations in general. We however managed to finish constructivly stating that there are different experiences and thus different approaches towards this topic but everybody should think self critically and always ask „Why is that so?“ while being respectful towards the one you are talking to and talking about.
Looking back on this week we can state that the group of volunteers grew together to a group of friends while learning about our shared history and discussing our shared present.
Next year the summer seminar will take place in Řehlovice, again.
text by Zuzana Soběslavská and Klaudia Schümann