April 1 around the world – as experienced by students from the Romain-Rolland-Gymnasium

BERLIN, GERMANY

I woke up because of the sunlight shining through my curtains and some birds chirping outside, which is not really delightful for me as a late riser that usually gets up at 10 a.m.

Only a few hours later the nice spring weather has changed and the blue sky, which only sheltered a few white clouds, turned to a dark grey one. Furthermore, it started to drizzle but soon after that it was bucketing down. Additionally it started to hail and I could hear the hailstones falling down on the rooftop.

Around the evening time the weather brightened up again.

(Leonie Heyen)

 

This day left a powerful impression on me regarding the weather. Such a weather situation is often considered as typical for the month April. It is almost a cliché that the weather during April is a healthy mix of rain showers and the first sun rays of spring letting the temperatures rise in a moderate way. But what we experienced that day was a little different. Sure enough it was a mix out of rain and sunshine, but did it feel healthy? I would rather say it was an extreme, an extraordinary mix. The weather was changing – or rather shifting – almost every minute. Heavy rain, clear skies, rain again, showers along with sunshine and even hail was falling from the deeply grey clouds. Just like a huge slideshow which lets pictures from all seasons of the year flash by in front of your eyes without any discernible order. I was not leaving my home until the late afternoon hours, but I still witnessed the whole weather slideshow by looking out of my window. I was waiting for a comfortable period in which it would not rain so I could finally leave home and go to the fitness center. Later, I actually managed to catch such a rain free window and left home to do some sports. However, returning home I got caught by a rain shower anyway. Nevertheless, I still consider myself lucky. Riding through a hailstorm would have been much nastier.

All in all I have to say that the weather today gave me several flashbacks of the time I was living in the Netherlands. Why, you might ask? Because this was not typical April weather, this was typical Dutch weather.

(Igor Zaytsev)

 

The whole day felt like a big April fool. The day started very sunny, a few clouds pushed through the beautiful blue sky. A few birds were piping melodies while sitting in a tree. But then the weather changed from one minute to the other. It started raining and not this great warm summer rain but a crackling cold rain. After ten minutes, however, it stopped raining and the sun came out again. It looked so nice and you thought about doing stuff outside but by the time you changed your clothes to go outside, it had started to snow. Yes, it started snowing in April… But what started as snowing quickly changed and turned into hailing. The green grass received a white dress but soon the sun came again. The snow and hail melted. And since we hadn’t had any wind that day, the wind came in the evening.

(Hendrik Zanzig)

 

My day doesn’t begin early. At 11.13 I wake up still baffled because of the past night. Apparently the weather matches my condition with the sky being as foggy as my brain.

Once my friends have all woken up, our teenage stomachs are starving. We dress up and leave to buy groceries having the most amazing brunch in mind. The hope of this meal added to the sudden sunshine put us in one hell of a good mood. Who would have thought we’d have so much fun while doing a chore. Even the wind that is blowing and messing with our hair – us girls with uncontrollable hair whipping into our faces and covering us like clouds – can’t put us off.

And here we are. Back home at 13.20 in that tiny single-man kitchen – meaning as empty as cluttered – all being left now is the cooking. This is not the easiest part. Bread is toasted and bacon grilled. The room fills with a delicious scent. But suddenly the weather decides to change. Huge drops crash down on that little window without warning. The tree outside starts shaking so hard that we think it’s dancing to disco-music. The sounds have changed: the smooth banging has become brittle.

I can’t see why because I am too busy between eggs, bacon and fruit salad. But when Nolan suddenly screams: “Hail storm?!” everything becomes clear. We now hear the sound of wind and ice while we are eating – delicious by the way!

Now that our stomachs are filled we have to be productive again and I decide to go back home.

By getting out of the house I notice no more rain or hail but the wind is colder and stronger than ever. Ouf! Here’s the underground station. I can’t see the sky anymore but at least I’m no longer afraid of flying away. The tube is coming.

Almost an hour later, when I finally get out, I can see holes in the blanket of clouds which seems a little less white, less aggressive… warmer.

It’s 16.30 and I arrived at home. I know I said I‘d be productive but actually all I want to do is watch a movie and finally I stop observing today’s weather.

(Claire Antonetti)

 

As I woke up at 9 o´clock I thought April was kidding me. It was a cloudy and ice cold morning, snow and frost everywhere. Then suddenly at 2 p.m. the sun made its way through the thick grey wall of clouds. It was getting warm up to 16,5°C and I could feel the spring coming. Birds were singing and I saw some cats finally having the courage to go out. Early in the evening clouds and rain pushed away the light and suddenly it felt like fall.

(Lukas Fraesdorf)

 

Waking up, looking at a cloud-free sky,

knowing that this day will be mine.

Going for a nice long run,

looking at the bright hot sun.

Using my vacation to train some muscle,

picking up books, I need to hustle.

Enjoying this chilly day at the beach,

where I am now writing this speech.

This weather, no wind, inspiring to go have some fun,

just like taking some pics with my sis’ for Instagram.

Eating a nice big meal, healthy.

Smiling, ‘cause I know the nature is wealthy.

Going home to the resort,

to finally finish my weather report.

(Niklas Hervé)

 

I wake up and make myself ready for a mindset of not believing anything incredible that is said or done to me, but I rather am very skeptical and expect an April fool’s joke everywhere. But the April fool’s joke is already waiting outside of my window. Yes, there seriously is snow on the ground in April. I guess the German saying that April does whatever it wants concerning the weather has once again proven itself to be true. But the frosty surprise in the morning wasn’t everything and a little while later the snow is gone. Now, it is windy, no stormy outside. Sun and rain alternate. One time I look outside the window it´s raining, the next time the sun is shining and yet another time it is hailing so hard that you can hear that muffled noise of millions of frozen drops of water hitting the earth. It is true April weather.

(Manuel Plonsky)

 

CASTELLANE, FRANCE

It’s the morning, a wonderful sunny morning.

The first view through the window is attracted by the sky.

Already now it has a bright, gloriously blue color which I haven’t seen for a long time in my home country. There are no clouds up there, not even a small one in the distance and almost no wind with 15 degrees here in the mountains at 850 meters elevation.

During the course of the day the sky remains in its breathtaking beauty and only some clouds appear like smears at the horizon.

My father ponders: ”We can be so happy about such beautiful weather.” and points out some small special details in the surrounding area.

And he is right – of course he is – but you only ever see the “nice weather” and do not really recognize the special features; you often take it as a matter of course.

Well, now it’s getting higher, up to 1.200 meters. There is no change in the sky but the temperatures decrease, almost collapse to 8 degrees and the wind starts roaring and gets so powerful that it almost blows me away.

While driving to a lower altitude, the temperatures climb up to 13 degrees and along the way one can see the first green buds on the trees, some cherry trees in flowerage and even the jasmine shows its first summerlike smelling blossoms.

The wind, now much more slightly, cockles at the turquoise lake and the sun feels warm on my skin.

In the evening the sun sets, first slowly but then disappears at a moment’s notice and the wind rears up again to let the trees stagger.

Finally another wonderful day is over, just gone.

(Gina Grimmer)

 

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE

When we woke up the sky was blue

We went on the streets and enjoyed the view

No clouds in the sky, but later the day

The blue sky was gone and it turned into grey

It was very hot and not at all windy

It was overwhelming, we enjoyed our iced tea

The 5-minute-rain was intensive but short

The weather at home is different than abroad

Noisy thunder broke through the night

Followed by flashes throwing their light

The remaining night was very calm

As the breeze of Singapore blew through the palm

(Kim Burkart)

 

As I woke up there was a slight breeze in my face. One you do not even notice but you are still mad because you’re freezing. I was lucky for I could simply get up and turn it off. Air conditioning systems are so useful. As I walk outside I feel like I’m running into a hot wall. I could feel the water and the air and immediately started sweating. No wonder with 30 degrees and humid weather outside. Throughout the day I had to deal with this alternation between hot and cold weather but after a while, you get used to it. Later on, it went a little dark and cooled down by several degrees. About an hour later, there was a shower. Just 10 minutes long. And then suddenly the sun came back.

(Kim Krause)

 

Soft sunrays are shining through the leaves and warming up the air until clouds clench together and push themselves relentlessly in front of the sun.                                                                                            Suddenly rain drums on the ground and people hurry to reach dry places. Some thunderbolts light up the sky. But then the clouds disappear as fast as they have come.                                                                          I reach the airport, feel the warmth of the sunshine again and wish to stay for a few days longer but then the plane takes off and I wonder if I will ever see this place again.

(Louisa Kühl) 

 

DAHAB, EGYPT

A day at the reef of the Blue Hole – from a fish’s perspective

I was woken up by a plastic bag covering the entrance of my crevice that morning. I usually spend the night in this small crack in the reef. A few weeks ago, I was living in a bigger crack further north, but it was destroyed by divers. Many of my friends’ houses have been destroyed by air tanks and fins as well. The amount of available crevices is starting to decrease considerably…

Back to the plastic bag. Plastic bags in the morning meant one of two things: a strong current carrying the plastic from other parts of the Red Sea towards our reef or a strong wind on the surface blowing trash from the streets of Dahab into the ocean. Dahab is not the cleanest of cities. It is not as bad as some other places I have heard of, but the presence of trash is ubiquitous wherever you turn. Wind plays an important role in the lives of almost everyone here. When it is windy, the fishermen cannot go fishing because the waves are too high for their little boats, divers cannot access every dive site because the entry is too difficult and the merchants on the market have to run after their wares. Only the kite surfers on their boards are happy about the wind. We do not get so many of the surfers at my reef, however. They tend to stay closer to their hotels. The Blue Hole – my home – is located about thirty minutes away from Dahab and is bordered by the Sinai Mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. It is the world’s most dangerous dive site with several people dying every year, yet there is a lot of diving and snorkeling activity in this area. I do not mind the divers much, as long as they stay away from the reef and leave nothing but bubbles.

As I have already mentioned, the day started out quite windy. You can feel the surge underwater and many of my plankton-eating friends love this kind of weather. The surge and current carry nutrients closer to the reef and they have new food. I myself eat corals, but since the corals feed on plankton as well, I am glad for a little bit of wind now and then. The wind also meant more divers coming to the Blue Hole, though. The entry to the reef is protected from the sea and not exposed to the weather, making it one of the few dive sites in the area accessible in these wind conditions. Most of the divers keep their distance to the reef and just pass by. Some divers, however, grate on the corals every time they enter the water. Tech divers, that have many tanks attached to their bodies, do the most damage. Three of my homes have already been destroyed by carelessness of tech divers.

At around noon, the sun decided to come out and the wind settled down a bit. The effects of the windy night were still visible: plastic bags, empty cans and carpets were floating in the water. The sun was illuminating the plastic hovering over our reef and trying to bring beauty to the tragedy. Although the light reflecting off the trash had something almost magical to it, I know that in reality there is nothing magical about plastic. It will most likely kill some of my friends in the next few months.

After a short interval of sunshine, the wind picked up again. It was around three o’clock, time for the reef checkers. The reef checkers are a group of divers that return to our reef every year and take notes on its health. They will lay down a line and then record everything within a certain distance of that line: the fishes, the substrate, the invertebrates, the amount of coral damage, etc. Apparently the data they collect helps the humans understand the reefs. They want to know the developments throughout the years and find the causes for some of the problems that they find. I do not think you need to search hard for the answer. The root to all of our problems is mankind. We can deal with thunderstorms, flash floods and crown-of-thorn breakouts. What we cannot recover from are divers kicking up sand which lands on the corals and suffocates them and the plastic which takes years to decompose. Even then, the plastic does not just magically disappear. It is still present. You just cannot see it with the naked eye anymore. My friend the turtle once told me of the Giant Pacific Garbage Patch. An enormous area covered with human trash. Many of her brothers and sisters have lost their lives trying to escape the jungle of debris.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the reef checkers’ efforts. It lets us know that at least some people are taking notice of our situation and want to help us. On this day, they are rewarded by the sight of a young whale shark passing by. It has come into this region to feed on the plankton that the wind of the early morning has stirred up. I watch their excitement at seeing such a rare animal and smile to myself. If only they knew how many rare and unbelievably astounding animals are hiding in the walls of this reef.

The rest of the day is uneventful and I go about my business without much disturbance from divers or snorkelers. My only concern is the undulated moray a few corals down, who is continuously eyeing me in a strange fashion. I return to my crevice and know that – despite the plastic – it has been a good day at the reef.

(Silke Müller)

 

ZEVEN, GERMANY

It is that time of the year again, when April is not quite sure about its appearance.

I woke up to singing birds and sunshine in the morning. But soon the once clear blue sky turned grey and it began to rain, not just once but in several ten minute intervals alternating with the sun. One time, it even started snowing and every time you tried to go outside, it would start raining and snowing again.

(Jördis Gerhard)

 

NEW YORK CITY, USA

It was 8:00 a.m. in the morning when I was woken up by the first sunbeams chafing my face. In front of me was an amazing view consisting of the sparkling Hudson River as well as the skyline of Manhattan. Everything seemed so calm: Just a few people on the streets, some ferries on the river and the sun which turns the windows of the skyscrapers into blazing fire. Even with the sun shining throughout the whole day, the temperature stayed at around one degree and you could feel the cold wind flitting through the alleys. Fortunately, the day was cloudless wherefore you were able to see every helicopter flying around the island in the blue sky. In the evening we went back to our apartment and observed the sunset from the 22th floor while the sunbeams on the buildings and the sparks on the water disappeared little by little. Next, the sky dyed itself dark blue and the first stars appeared.

(Sophie Charlotte Adam)

Solar Eclipse at Romain-Rolland-School

March 20, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

sonne1sonnen

 

One of my first thoughts as my alarm clock goes off and I lift myself out of my bed, deals with an event that has been discussed and planned for several weeks in my additional Physics course. Something unique and rare is going to happen today. Something so unique, that I will even be allowed to bunk off my Biology lesson and half of my English lesson to watch it: the Solar Eclipse which can be viewed not only in Berlin, not only in Germany, but in almost half of the European countries. So I am VERY excited, particularly because of the fact that this is the very first eclipse for me to observe. As there will be a lot of preparation and special equipment required for the observation, I won’t have Biology today and, instead, will be spending time outside and enjoy the beautifully warm and sunny spring weather today. Sunny spring weather? Oh, yes, we are actually very lucky today. Especially our Physics teacher was really concerned about the weather forecast provided on Wednesday, our last lesson before the eclipse, which predicted cloudy skies – not the best conditions for the use of our brand-new solarscope. But on my way to school I am assuaged as I see the bright blue sky. I actually have not seen such a beautiful sky for a long time: it looks like a freshly washed tablecloth that somebody laid on top of Berlin. Clean, no clouds, no fog, just sunshine and a few white tracks left by several airplanes. At the moment the sun is still shining as it usually does, but boy, this will change after the next two Geography lessons. 90 minutes pass like 90 seconds after which I will join the guys from my additional Physics course to build up our observation zone. During the break all the other students will have the opportunity to watch the eclipse with the help of our instruments. Which instruments? Apart from the solarscope, which is a special telescope for sun observations, a special box shaped projector that shows an enlarged projection of the sun, and a set of super-fancy-looking sunglasses which are so dark that you can look through them in the direction of the sun without setting your eyes on fire. And so it begins. The moon starts to cover the sun at approximately 10 a.m. The eclipse reaches its climax right as the long break starts. Hundreds of junior and senior RoRo students come to watch this spectacular event and I am right in the middle of this crowd. Now the moon covers 80% of the sun and I can feel something strange: obviously it is getting colder and I notice that the sunrays shining on my face do not feel as warm as they usually do. Although the sunlight still seems to be really bright and intensive it almost feels cold on my skin, which is a feeling I have never experienced before. The break passes quickly, the students start to leave, and so does the moon. It starts to leave the sun and reveals its native, well-known, round shape. The schoolyard is empty again as I start wrapping up all our equipment together with my fellows.

For now, that was my eclipse experience. That Friday was very exciting for me and I bet I am not the only one. The next eclipse visible from Germany will be on August 12, 2026 and I am sure I will not miss out on that one either.

(Igor Zaytsev)

After Flying for a Day and a Half Halfway around the World

By Mirko Bonne April 29, 2014

Tell it to the Bees: Australian Journal 1

The lovely light over Melbourne that first bright morning – as though the world, the whole south, would be nothing but bright blue. I hadn’t yet seen or heard a single bird, but all night long I’d heard the twitter of an air conditioner from the roof of the neighboring apartment building, exactly as though a flock of budgies were roosting there. A sudden loud swell of windmill sails, perhaps a dream, but then a fire siren came racing down the chasms of the streets. After flying for a day and a half halfway around the world – from Abu Dhabi on over Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean, past Perth and Adelaide – it was the most restful sleep I’d had in months. To wake up in such light – to wake up just once like that from the unreality in your life.

And don’t forget: from spring you flew into fall. Where was the summer en route? I grasp this autumnal April only in the Carlton Gardens, where I walk beneath the old sycamores and chestnuts and hear the first strange birds, a crawking and squeaking, an agitated bursting into flight, not a rustling, a rattling, clattering. Fallen leaves are everywhere, but the air is mild, a warm wind, a cirrostratus sky, but with clouds three times the size as those over Hamburg, Frankfurt or Paris. Again and again in these first days in Melbourne I observe vast cloud fields, mostly flooding in from the west over the Yarra River, seeming inconceivably swift, even when the wind barely stirs the treetops. Darkness falls quickly, dusk lasting barely twenty minutes, and the weather is just as quick to change. A cool rainy morning is followed two hours later by a radiant, warm noon; by an afternoon rent by gusts of wind and darkened by towering clouds; by an evening in which, at sunset, three frigate birds circle in the orange sky.

 

Translated by Isabel Fargo Cole

 

The Integrity of Facts

By Mirko Bonne November 5, 2014

Tell it to the Bees: Australian Journal 14

Meg, an environmental activist from Greenpeace Australia Pacific in Sydney, speaks about the gap between facts and feeling. To bridge this gulf, she believes, “the integrity of facts” is required from the scientific side, but new ways to convey them must also be found. Narratives and poetry can open doors that remain closed to the language of scientific research, as they do to political slogans and legal jargon.

It has taken decades (one might object), if not centuries, for literary narratives and poetry’s music of meanings to free themselves from the stranglehold of functionalization and instrumentalization.

But Meg is not demanding that literature and poetry be pressed into service; at most, she wants them to cease being sheer entertainments. Literatures can tell stories of climate change that reach people, she says, transforming facts and figures, filling them with life, translating them.

Leard State ForestMeg is in her mid-fifties, with a weathered face and black outdoor clothing, radiating anger as much as sorrow. She has spent the past several days in prison following protests against the clearance of large parts of the Leard State Forest, an attempt by the Whitehaven coal company to expedite the opening of the Maules Creek mine. Maules Creek is Aborigine Land; the Gomeroi have lived in this forested region for thousands of years. It is home to around four hundred rare and endangered animal and plant species.

Meg believes in the power of stories and in the magic of poetry, and she believes that both make it possible to reach people, because poetry and storytelling are a part of every human culture, no matter where you look.

Meg is the first person in all these meetings, lectures, conversations and tours who does not hesitate to use the word “God”.

 

She talks about the faith of the inhabitants of Kiribati, a Polynesian island nation in the Pacific, formerly a British colony known as the Gilbert Islands. The anticipated rise in sea level leaves no doubt that the islands, each of them rising just a few yards above the sea, will be flooded. However, the inhabitants refuse to leave their islands, appealing to traditional tales and the Bible to justify their decision. In Kiribati there is no doubt about God’s pronouncement: never again will a flood sweep the earth. And, they say, part of the earth is Kiribati.

Meg tells of Bangladesh. She asked women there what relief supplies they needed the most, and the women of the coastal region requested mobile ovens – ovens they could take with them when fleeing the next flood.

She tells of the Wurundjeri aborigines, about a thousand survivors of expulsions and massacres, half of them living in reservations where they are cut off from their land, the animals and trees, the rivers and their sacred places. Meg tells how the Wurundjeri say: “We won’t die out. We refuse.”

She tells of the Inuit and the sounds of Alaska. The Eskimos’ names for native birds imitate their cries or songs, and for a long time now the Inuit have been discussing what to do with the names when the birds no longer exist.

Meg tells of the Australian lyrebird. It imitates sounds in its environment, and more and more lyrebirds can be heard emitting a strange snapping, clicking and whirring, the sounds of cameras, while others sound like electric hedge clippers.

In the tradition of the Kulin, the lyrebird is the interpreter of the animals. The Kulin believe that all birds once had a common language, before greed and envy drove them apart. Only the lyrebird has continued to aid communication among the now mutually unintelligible animals.

I tell Meg that in Hamburg blackbirds imitate cellphone ring tones, evidently out of confusion.

It might be a confusion that shows a way out, she replies.

Meg is an activist; I am exactly the opposite. I feel thrown through the world, forced into wakefulness, day and night, caught in a restless state between all kinds of worlds, at the mercy of incomprehensible customs and still stranger intoxications, and seeking comfort in the belief that my writing might move someone to keep their eyes open – when in the end all I want to do is sleep, dream, and, in good moments, scribble down memories in a notebook, so that they won’t be lost along with everything else.

Just as she speaks of God in passing, Meg knows where to find those responsible: “The government violates Australia, and will violate the Australians”, she says. “No one is doing anything. We’re surrounded by criminals. We are criminals ourselves.”

Photos: Leard State Forest (1): leardstateforest.com; “Unbelievable Lyrebird”, Ambrose Pratt, 1932 (2)

 

Translated by Isabel Fargo Cole

The Island’s Caretaker

By Mirko Bonne February 17, 2015

Tell It to the Bees: Australian Journal 16

My fear of the sea floor’s rapid drop into the submarine night beyond the reef, of encountering a moray, a fear as old as my thoughts of what could happen if a shark, a spider crab, a school of poisonous jellyfish trailing yard-long strands of burning nettle hooks, a grouper… my fear that panic could seize me in the water is too great for me to go swimming and snorkeling with the rest of the group. I gaze out at the water. I don’t dive, but my eyes dive down.

Suppenschildkröte

A pale turquoise sea turtle lollops past. A fish swims by so close to the boat that I freeze in wonder: so big, so bright red, almost perfectly round and striped black. And several pale-brown sharks, not very big, but big enough, circle around, crouching as it were, making a school of fusilier fish part before their flat snouts and whir off in different directions like finches before a buzzard.

After returning to the ship, several snorkelers post the photos they’ve just taken on Facebook or wherever, while I gaze over at Woody Island, a clump of mangroves where access is forbidden, and probably impossible. At least I certainly wouldn’t survive there long, what with my fear of those creatures waiting for God knows what in the salty mud between the tidal trees.

Bell Rock-Leuchtturm vor ArbroathOn Low Island there’s a lighthouse that was imported from Scotland in the 19th century – it might even be the work of one of Robert Louis Stevenson’s relatives, who were among Scotland’s leading lighthouse builders.

The island where the Scottish lighthouse stands is so tiny that a ten minutes’ walk takes me past the same seagull standing just as before in the sand, looking at me questioningly.

A museum little larger than a bicycle shed covers the history of Low Island, the first island in the Great Barrier Reef to produce all its electricity solely from the wind and the sun. But then, it has only one inhabitant.Low Isles

And not always the same one. The island’s caretaker switches every three weeks; the Low Isles Preservation Society LIPS organizes the volunteers. The “Sailaway IV”, a sailing catamaran whose diesel motor is used only near the coast, is taking the past weeks’ caretaker back to Port Douglas: a stocky elderly lady who talks about the cooperation between the LIPS and the local aborigines.

The skipper of the “Sailaway” recalls a caretaker from his boyhood. In 1972 the man took his two sons out to the island in a dinghy to save them from an approaching storm, and none of the three was ever seen again.

The only person shocked by the story is me. After all, Australia is the continent of disappearance, so much so that you have to wonder whether Australia as a whole won’t vanish from the earth someday, just like that.

WallabyEverything disappears here. Person after person gets lost in the outback. Whole swathes of land burn. A tornado destroys the sugar cane harvest. A prime minister sinks into a kelp forest. Animal species seem to die out overnight. A river dries up. People clear forests that for thousands of years have housed koalas, and bats that exist hardly anywhere else in the whole endangered batless world.

Everything belongs to an endangered species, everything is endangered, mangroves, platypuses, dingoes, parrots that now exist only in zoos. Restaurants catering to day-trippers keep pythons in glass cases, and barbed-wire cages house wallabies with eyes so sad that they bring you to your knees. No one knows whether the Tasmanian tiger still exists. They’re looking for it, but decades on, it still hasn’t been found.

Lagoons turn into train stations; droughts devastate a region as large as the great country of Poland. Tasmania’s aborigines were wiped out, except for one woman and one man. And another man, charged with the care of a coral island, rides out onto the sea with his sons in a little motor boat.

He rides and rides and rides and rides and doesn’t even notice that he and the two boys are long dead.

Photos: green turtle (1), lighthouse at Arbroath, Scotland, built by Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather (2), the Low Isles in the Great Barrier Reef: Woody Island, left, and Low Island, right (3), Wallaby (4)

 

Translated by Isabel Fargo Cole

The Fig Tree

By Mirko Bonne December 1, 2014

 

fig tree 1

Summer’s rubbish everywhere, plastic splendor on every slope. Tossed away, trodden flat, left lying, forgotten – the packaging of what once was, and is never to return, bottles of all colors, rust-corroded tins, a faded bag, a torn suitcase. Cars abandoned years ago by the roadside, wrecks, half-cannibalized, half-decayed, shat in, besmeared, oil-slicked. You squat, eye caught by something pale on the asphalt, and see a little goddess doll, with just half a head, no more body left, but Aphrodite’s smile on its lips. In the dry grass, layer upon layer, lie the remains of what couldn’t be stuffed into the crevices and niches of these walls whose stones have been used over and over, over and over again. Severed power lines in the trees, a branching of wires. On the beach a tide of toothbrushes, a spume of bags and bottle tops, caps and pens, laces, buttons, and the faded blind eyes of stuffed animals.

fig tree 2

On the tiny Greek isle of Symi, just a few sea miles from the Turkish coast, a house stands in the upper town of the fishing harbor, its roof beams, walls and floors prized open by a tree that has claimed, bit by bit, the abandoned masonry. The beautiful dark green fig grows on the junk and trash that is tossed in through the windows – tossed as though into a shaft in which the inevitability of decay merges with emptiness, and time and death fade in the face of sheer life.

Feige in Santa Barbara

 

 

 

 

Photos: Plastic in the Mediterranean near Rhodes (1), house with fig tree on Symi (2), fig tree in Santa Barbara, California (3)

Translated by Isabel Fargo Cole

An Enemy of the People

On 23.2.2015, the Sophie-Scholl-Schule substation attended a four-hour workshop at the Schaubühne theatre in Berlin about Henrik Ibsen’s play “An Enemy of the People”.

Theater workshop

 

In the play, Dr. Stockmann exposes a scandal: the water at the town health baths is contaminated. To begin with, he receives support from the press and his friends. Yet they suddenly change their position and no longer want the scandal to be uncovered. They see their future as threatened.
Thomas Ostermeier’s staging of the play poses the question: what chance does truth have in a society where the economy comes before all else?

The students were given the following task: have I even been opportunistic? When? Why?

It was interesting to hear my classmates’ “confessions” and observe their facial expressions at the same time.

 

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Who is stronger? Who is more powerful? Who is more convincing?

The students were given instructions by Wiebke Nonne, the Schaubühne’s theatre educator, in how to make proper use of their bodies in theatre acting.

 The workshop was funny and interesting, but also demanding.

SONY DSC

Many thanks to the Theatre Education team at the Schaubühne in Berlin!

The workshop helped me internalise the play more!

 

GENERATION SMARTPHONE – Silke Müller- Romain-Rolland-Schule

When talking about climate change in class, we soon realized that no matter how much knowledge we acquire about this subject, there will not be any considerable changes. Change will start happening when people start acting. Even though a small part of the world has done so, the majority is still ignoring the issue of climate change. I decided to write the following poem in order to shine light on this situation.

 

 We used to be creatures in the dark,

lighting our world with a single spark.

It gave us warmth, it kept us alive.

It was the reason we were able to survive.

That spark was the beginning of life as we know it,

developing each day and learning bit by bit.

We started domesticating nature all around,

invented the devil, called it dollar or pound.

Fast forward: we’re living in big cities.

Eyes glued to our phones, laughing at pictures of cute little kitties.

Rushing through life without ever stopping to take a breath,

relying on computers to take care of the rest.

Your Instagram account is more important than a tree,

the first thing you ask: Is the WiFi free?

They call it intelligence, progress maybe,

but I believe it’s getting worse with every baby.

Our children won’t ever see the sky,

in just a few years and I don’t get why.

They are born and raised in plastic.

The effects of a childhood spent online will be drastic.

Nature is not considered sacred anymore.

We just turn our head, walk on and close the door.

Everyone knows we’re destroying our earth,

it’s a fact we have known since the day of our birth.

Yet no one is willing to make a sacrifice

and let go of the luxury we’ve come to expect in our life.

It’s a shame that everyone’s just standing by,

while we’re watching our planet slowly die.

“It doesn’t concern us,” most will say.

“We’ll be long gone, come that day.”

But think of your children, who will one day say:

“Mom, it’s not our fault. Why do we have to pay?”

You walk around with your eyes fixed on the screen,

while beside you nature tries to impress with its green.

It could be the prettiest bird of them all,

but you won’t see it, until someone posts a picture of it on your wall.

You’re always looking for the latest trends,

to try and keep up with the people you call friends.

You call yourself normal, same as everyone else.

Never stop to consider that there might be something wrong with yourself.

We’re flying high, high and proud,

but who’s going to catch us when we fall through the cloud?

The cloud we created to protect our mind.

The fear of tomorrow made us decide to stay blind.

It’s easier to pretend that we still have it all,

escaping into a world where we no longer feel small.

A world without limits, a world without war.

It seems to be endless: one click and there’s more.

But reality is way more complex than fantasy.

There is no button no skip catastrophe.

We have to start acting to save this world in time.

This world full of beauty is our responsibility: yours and mine.

Hello from Romain-Rolland School, Germany

You can find Romain-Rolland-Gymnasium (RoRo) in the northern part of Berlin (Germany) which used to be the French district before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Its European profile is reflected by the variety of language classes offered to the students who learn English and French as their first and second languages. Additionally Spanish, Chinese or Latin classes can be attended. The second core theme is Sciences. At a young age, students learn how to experiment by working on special projects in cooperation with Berlin universities and national education foundations. The school community appreciates social commitment, gives the students a chance to develop their creative skills and teaches them social competences based on tolerance, peace, and considerateness.

RoRo had its first encounter with the Weather Stations project at the ilb International Literature Festival Berlin 2014 when a group of students attended a reading by Mirko Bonné from Hamburg (Germany) and Tony Birch from Australia. The students are in the age of 17 years.

Students from RoRo say:

“I really like the idea of connecting the aspect of climate change with literature so that there is an incentive even to people who might not be interested in this topic. I think in the project we will get to know a bit more about climate change from different perspectives; from the authors and from the other participants. I hope that we will learn how to express topics like climate change through literary texts. I am looking forward to getting more information when Mirko Bonné visits us.”

“I think that climate change does influence all of our lives and that we, as the young generation, should try to make the world a better place. It is not easy to draw attention to this subject, because everyone knows about climate change and its consequences. The problem is that just a few people help to prevent it. That is where the Weather Stations project comes in. They want to reach more and more people, the elders and the youth, and want them to know that with a little help from anyone, things can be changed. By using poems, short stories and promoting our school, we get a chance to take part in it.”

“I think the Weather Stations project will be a great project to learn about climate change and nature in a different way than just by watching TV or reading newspaper articles. I think it is great that we will get to know authors from different parts of the world.”

“I expect to learn more about the problems of climate change and the issues it causes around the world. I am particularly interested in the different opinions of different cultures toward that topic. In America, for example, I have even heard people say that climate change is not a real thing, and just made up by the media or environmental activists. I am excited to discuss these issues in class and with authors from all around the world who are interested in the same thing.”