Day 14 – See You Soon!

Sunday was the last day we had all together as a group. Most of the Germans had to leave this afternoon because on Monday their classes will continue. The Indians had to take the plane on Monday morning, so there was still some time left.

On Sunday morning we attended the big ending service of the church day, which took place in the Signal Iduna Park. The home stadium of Borussia Dortmund. It is also the biggist football stadium of Germany and fits over 80.000 people. At the service not all seats were occupied but still quite a lot and therefore the biggest service I have ever been to. It was quite an experience for all of us and additionally it was very hot and sunny on that day.

Oure seats at the Signal Iduna Park
The preaching pastor in the middle of the field

After the service we were very lucky to get home quick because over 30.000 people wanted to get home and take the train. But we managed it somehow and didn’t even lost one of us!

Back at the ESG we made ourselves lunch. And we had a great time together at this last lunch – for the time being. In the afternoon we had time to pack our bags and to write some notes. Everyone of us got an envelope with his or her name on it and everyone wrote a little note to each person, which he or she put into that respective envelope. So we had some loving words we could read while missing the great times we had on this exchange and traveling together.

In the end the time came and one by one we had to leave to get our trains back home. The goodby was really sad and a lot of tears were shed but at least is was not a “goodby” but a “see you soon in India” when we will visit them. Still, feeling very heavy hearted, we took our busses and trains back into our regular day-to-day routines. But with a big bag of wonderful memories!

Only Jojo, Annette and Michael stayed with the group until Monday, so they had a tasty dinner in the garden of the ESG Dortmund.

Indian-style dinner on Sunday evening

See you all soon in India!
We will all miss you and the wonderful times we had together. They will alway stay with us as well as the friendship that connects us, no matter what will come.

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Day 13: Last day at church day

On our last day at the church day we experienced again many different things!

In the morning some of our group went to a bible workshop with the famous Comedian Eckhard von Hirschhausen and the final Panel about “Trust in international Politics” with the two most famous female leaders in the world. Germans and Indians could listen together to the German chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and the first female president of an African country Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from Liberia.

Afterwards, we went to have food at the church day. The Indian group was able to enjoy food from different countries like Hungary, Turkey and the Maghreb countries.

In the afternoon, some of our group went to the shopping center to get the last souvenirs for India. Others went to an interesting discussion about peace building in Central America and another small group joined a walking tour in the city center about right wing- extremism in Dortmund. Moreover we watched the performance a great dancing group from Namibia. All in all, again we got many impressions about different important issues from all around the world!

In the evening, we met and did a first reflection about our time together. Everyone agreed that we learned a lot both about important topics both for our own life and another culture.

After this, we spend a nice evening at the ESG Dortmund: we had barbecue, listen to a Gospel concert at the church and were talking until late about the wonderful time we spend together in Germany.

Day 12: Culture, Chats and Candles

As the sun rose, also we rose one after the other to prepare breakfast and start the day with an English morning prayer in the church across the street from ESG. As SOMEONE was not yet wake enough to coordinate our group, we had to overcome a little confusion with our tickets for the Kirchentag. But then everybody was set and ready to start again into an interesting, inspiring and above all fun day.

Some of us opted for learning circle dances and got carried away by tunes from around the globe. Alex decided to take some of us to a friend’s concert in the inner city to listen to Indie songs. Someone, Sophie and others took again the time to stroll along all the different fair stalls of the market of possibilities.

At noon, we had a reunion at the fair where we had time to share our experiences and did the further planning for the (last ☹) days to come. Back in the present, we recharged our bellies with delicious Indian food (we cannot wait to taste the real India), before heading to the next activities. Again, it was difficult for us to decide among the endless options.

One Group got important insights into the current situation in the Aegean Sea in terms of criminalization of helping refugees, exports of weapons and its correlation to the cause for migration and use against refugees. Another group took part in a talk about the role of the church in protecting human rights and people facing social oppression. Some German and Indian girls had the chance to talk to experts on the feminist and human rights movement in Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina about faith-based Nonviolence against Violence. Deeply inspired, the Girls take home several live-changing learnings.

In the evening we all came together for a Taizé Prayer in the Westphalenpark. In midst of flamingos, flowers and flames we sang songs of Taizé, listened to words of Pater Timmothé and cuddled together as both night and temperatures fell.

Coming home with a warm heart, we had a last midnight snack and sank in our beds exhausted, but also very happy.

Day 11: Thursday in Black

Today was ” Thursday in Black”, an initiative that encourages people around the world to wear black as a symbol of solidarity with victims and survivors of violence and calling for a world without rape and agression of any kind.

We went to enjoy the second day of the “Kirchentag” (you know, jaaa?) so we were in different groups and workshops. Here some impressions of the activities we did today:

On our way to the main hall…

workshop time…

It was serendipity that we met Celine´s parents…

We also had time to reflect a little bit about our visted events…

In the evening we finished our beautiful day in the best way possible: saying thank you to God for this extraordinary intercultural experience with our own Idian-German service.

Day 9: travelling from Berlin to Dortmund

After having delicious breakfast we went to the museum called ,,Blindenwerkstatt – Otto Weidt”, where we had a guided tour. We got some information about the workshop and also about the living conditions of jewish people during the ,,Nazi” time.
Otto Weidt founded this workshop for blind jewish people in order to save their lifes by trying to avoid their deportation to the concentarion camps.
For lunch we had chicken and spring rolls with rice in our accomodation.

For going to Dortmund we had to take first a train to Münster for around four hours and then we changed the train for another thirty minutes. Our ESG house, where we will stay for the next days is not directly located in the middle of the city, so we took the underground an the bus to finally reach our new ,,home”.

Matthias, the pastor of the ESG Dortmund, gave us a very warm welcome and after distributing rooms we had amazing BBQ for dinner.

Last but not least, our Indian friends surprised us with beautiful henna. So we are prepared for the ,,Kirchentag”, which will start on thursday.


Politics and Pizza

Again a Berlin day with a packed program. We started with a guided tour throughout the Reichstag (German parliament) including interesting discussions on the political situation and fascinating views on Berlin.

To understand the connection between church and state we talked to Martin Dutzmann, the EKD commissioner for the German government and the EU. We immediately started a vivid discussion about political issues in Germany in comparison to India.

After a short visit to Bread for the world we finished the day with an exciting climbing event and an Italian Dinner.

Day 7 – Cultural Sunday

How could we start a Sunday morning better than with a service? For that we had the opportunity to go to the Berliner Dom. The service was held by Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the chair person of the German Protestant church (in German: Ratsvorsitzender) and Fredrick O. Shoo, the Archbishop of Tansania. After that we were guided through the magnificent building and could even climb the top of the dome.

In the afternoon we enjoyed the diversity of Mauerpark: with a flea market, food and Karaoke there was something for everyone.

After that we went to the “Mauergedenkstätte”, a place we could witness the Iron Curtain. Thanks to our nice guide we could learn a lot about East and West Berlin. (for more visit: https://www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de/en/ )

At the end of the day we tried different Lebanese food, so everybody can go happy and satisfied to bed. Or let’s see what else this evening can bring… 🙂