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

Thoughts on the stories we have told.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the old stories – seeing links between these and the climate change we’ve brought upon our planet. In particular, I’ve been thinking about Pandora’s Box and also The Expulsion from Eden and seeing, in these tales, ripples out to the story of now.

In the Climate Change version of Pandora’s Box we were all complicit in the whispering urging to open that box, “for the advancement of human kind open it now Pandora!” And once it was out we couldn’t or wouldn’t put it back – unlike Pandora, we were entranced not horrified by what we’d released.

And did a weary God shake their head as we plucked that apple of knowledge – the one that made us so very aware of all we wanted and all we could take from the garden we were supposed to care for? It was the moment we exalted ourselves above all nature; the moment we believed ourselves to be somehow both separate and more than all that. Yet, once expelled, we didn’t heed the lesson, but instead like a petulant child we obstinately and defiantly repeated and expanded our mistakes. Of course, in the retelling we insisted that it had been God who had exalted us in the first place.

Did we ever really feel our connection with this wondrous place – our home? Was there a time when we rejoiced in our position as a small component of all that our home is? A time when we understood how we were a mere strand of all that existed? A time when we knew that a tug or break on this strand or that led to the unravelling of so much more? A time when we heard Gaia’s heartbeat – when lying on the earth watching the ants toil felt like watching the universe? A time when laying palm upon the soil felt like placing a hand upon your own skin?

Now we gleefully disembowel her in a frenzy of greed and displace the truth tellers who, inconveniently, tend the places we have set out to plunder. So I wonder, Pandora, what little scrap is left fluttering at the bottom of the box – is it still hope? And Adam and Eve when will you understand that you are but a tiny singular strand of that whole precious web?

Iluska Farkas, London Substation coordinator

 

 

 

Digging history – with Paola Balla

PB%20Two%20Willy%20Wag%20TailsTwo talking and twitching Willy Wag Tails escort me round the footy oval, edged with blue stone wretched from the quarry by Italian migrants, after being worked by generations of Kulin.

Sunrise, and West Footscray is almost pretty. Rosella rifle in grass lumpy with little hills and gullies. Story goes this ground sits atop a car dump.

Here one Sunday morning cheering on my son, a man with café latte breath slurps at me that a sinkhole opened up during a seniors match in the fifties.

Towards Tullamarine a plane rumbles, the traffic begins to hum and blow, I smell toast and walk home.   (Paola Balla is a Wemba-Wemba & Gunditjmara woman, artist, mother, curator and educator who likes to tell stories)

PB%20Two%20Willy%20Wag%20Tails

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!

 

Maribyrnong River

Image: Hot air balloons over Melbourne

Hot air balloons over Melbourne

The road tips downwards, hurling me towards the silvery body of water. Straightening my legs, I stand on the pedals and let my bike gather speed, whizzing through the freezing air. The river releases thick columns of morning mist, spiralling into the air in curling tendrils. Towering sky scrapers are silhouetted in the distance, backed by the slow turning of the Ferris wheel. In the icy water, two hot air balloons are reflected, catching the marmalade rays of the morning sun. The air is silent, the world still asleep. It’s just the river and the morning and me.

– Maxine / Footscray City College Substation

Mother Nature……… by Anas Ahmadzai

The painfully sharp sapphire blue sky covers the above,

Skin flakes are grateful to have salty sweat moisture,

Cracks are inevitably dry on the face of the earth,

Like the dry rashes that lay on your arm , the dry land silently begs for moisture,

A heavy blessing from the heavens would only do for all,

Mother Nature’s eyes were once like glaciers but are now drowned in tears,

Mother Nature’s skin once like golden desert sand but now dry like the present cracks,

We’re not playing a game of poker,

If we risk our Mother Nature then we lose all,

We will lose all.

 

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.

A Thousand Words for Snow – Part One

PRELUDE

A great iceberg is drifting on the water. If you were a bird or a fish, and if you followed this iceberg long enough, you would arrive somewhere in Greenland. There you might see a dead seagull frozen on the snow, or the skeleton of a large musk ox on a hillside. Or, you might meet this Inuit family in a small igloo house. Our story starts from their igloo.

So what’s this Inuit family doing at this moment? As is not unusual for any family, they have gathered around, engaged in domestic activities. The mother is cooking, her three sons are feeding their dogs. Occasionally they help their mother prepare the food. Their father died a long time ago. He died in a snowstorm while out hunting. The youngest son here is Tekkeit Qaasuitsup. He is only nineteen and a half, but he is the hero of the region and everyone calls him Smart Tekk. He is the one who speaks good English and has ventured far out into the world. He made front-page news from Germany to America, from Russia to Australia. At this very moment, he is telling his family of the adventure he has just had:

‘I said to the German people, we call aput – the snow that is on the ground; and qana falling snow and pigsipor drifting snow; mentlana pink snow; suletlana green snow. And that kiln is remembered snow, naklin forgotten snow, and so on. The Germans were intrigued, so they asked me what is “remembered snow” and what is “forgotten snow”. I said you can’t remember all the snow you have encountered. You only remember some of the snow from your life. For example, the snow that lay on our dead father’s body, motela, that snow one can always remember…’

 

1.

Our young Nanook is asleep in his bed. But this is not Greenland. There is city traffic outside, mixed with the sound of aeroplanes. The curtains are tightly drawn, but still, a beam of morning sunlight is sneaking in and penetrating the darkness.

Tekk opens one eye. He observes this strange space and wonders if he is still in a dream. He closes the eye again. The dreams he has just awoken from seem to be inconsistent with his current surroundings. He dreamt he was swimming with a young polar bear through the water, but the bear swam faster than him because polar bears are famous for their strong long distance swimming. He had to give up the race in his dream. Now he feels as if his face is wet: probably from his swimming in the water. But what sort of dream is going on right now? Tekk opens his eyes again and moves his head on the soft pillow. Well, there is a television set on the wall, a fridge, a desk, a chair, a mirror, a wardrobe, and a bathroom beside his bed. Everything seems clear and concrete in his eyes. This is not a dream then. Tekk sits up with confusion. Then he suddenly recognizes his orange suitcase standing on the carpet in the middle of the room. It is a brand new suitcase his family bought for him before he left Greenland. Yes, it is not a dream: it is real. He is somewhere in Germany. He must have landed here yesterday, after a very long and complicated trip. He vaguely remembers he was on a long distance bus, and then he was put on a small local plane, and then he was in a big international airport, and after that he was flying on a very big plane, and he was given some free wine and alcohol by a smiley stewardess, and after that… he can’t remember anymore.

He hears a knock on the door. Tekk does not move at all. There’s another knock on the door. He silently places his feet on the carpet. Now he hears someone turning the key in the keyhole and opening the door. There she is: a young white woman, wearing a uniform with a vacuum cleaner beside her feet. Tekk jumps up with astonishment, and asks in his halting English: ‘Who are you?’

He realises he hasn’t practiced his English lately.

The woman is a bit apologetic when she realizes the hotel guest is still in his room. ‘Entschuldigen Sie!’ She says: ‘Should I come back later?’

But Tekk stops her: ‘Wait, you don’t go!’

The woman turns back: ‘Yes, sir?’

‘Is this Berlin, right?’

She smiles. ‘Yes,’ she answers, ‘it is.’

‘Where about in Berlin?’

‘You are in Hotel Kantstrasse, we are near the Berlin Zoo.’

‘Berlin Zoo?’ Tekk repeats, slightly surprised.

‘I mean, this is a hotel, not a zoo.’ She explains in English that is equally hesitant: ‘but we are near Berlin Zoo.’

Seeing that Tekk is not responding, the woman asks again: ‘You want me to clean up now, or should I come back later?’

Tekk stares at the maid, weakly shakes his head.

The woman leaves with her Hoover, closing the door behind her. Now Tekk sits up. He realizes he is fully dressed. He has slept with his clothes on. He touches his head, finding that there is nothing there apart from his short hair. Where is his walrus fur hat? He loves that old fur hat. He can’t walk around in the world without his hat on. He spots it lying on the desk by the window. He grabs it and presses it down on his head. Now he feels a bit better. He pulls open the curtains. Light floods in. He opens the window. Outside there is a city skyline. He can see huge advertising signs on top of some tall buildings. One reads ‘Benz’ and another ‘BMW’. He looks down. The streets and cars are like small toys. He feels dizzy. He closes the window. Again he walks around in the carpeted room, trying to get used to the space.

He enters the bathroom. The washing basin is strangely designed, like a huge lotus flower. It’s not that he has seen many large flowers in his life. As he touches the basin, a ring of lights turn on automatically, just like in a sci-fi movie. Tekk stares at the shiny washing basin, trying to understand where the light bulb is. Then he gives up. He needs a wash. But there is no faucet for him to turn on. He tries to move his hands under the tap, but nothing comes out. Then just when he lowers his head down to check the tap, a stream of water bursts out and drenches his face and head.

‘Tiaavuluk!’ Tekk curses, grabbing a towel and wiping his face dry. He opens the fridge. There are many small bottles of wine and vodka. He opens a vodka and drinks it directly from the bottle. It tastes good to him and gives his dry throat a kick. He sits on his bed and sips more, as if he is drinking tap water. He then opens the fridge again and finds a package of peanuts. He eats all the peanuts and brings out another vodka, as well as a coke. When he is about to finish the second bottle of vodka, the door bell rings.

Tekk opens the door. A tall, handsome European man stands there and smiles at him.

‘Good morning. You must be Tekkeit Qaasuitsup. Can I come in?’

Tekk nods his head. The man steps in and shakes his hand right away.

‘I am Hans. I work for this year’s International Global Warming Conference. I will be accompanying you during your stay here.’

‘Everyone calls me Tekk.’ He answers a bit shyly.

‘Sure, Tekk. I speak a little Greenlandic, but I won’t embarrass myself here. Is this your first time in Berlin?’

‘Yes.’ Tekk nods but somehow he feels as if he is being looked down on. So he adds: ‘but I have been to Copenhagen once, and to Stavager. Have you been to Stavager?’

‘Hmm…’ Hans shakes his head. He has never heard of such a place. ‘I am not sure. Is it in Denmark?’

‘No.’ Tekk laughs. Hans notices that the boy has a loud and untamed voice and seems to enjoy his laugh. ‘It is in Norway! They have got this domikirke. Very big.’

‘Domikirke?’ Hans is no longer following what the boy says. Besides, he is a bit bothered by the strong vodka smell in the room.

‘Yes, a domikirke. A huge old cathedral. Very scary inside.’

Hans decides not to sit down. He checks his watch and seems to be in a hurry.

‘That’s great to know, Tekk. If I visit Stavager one day I will go to see the domikirke. But now we are pressed for time. Let me take you for some breakfast, if you are ready. We have a whole day’s schedule after that.’

Tekk agrees and puts on his woollen boots. He follows Hans to the door.

‘Don’t forget your key!’ Hans takes the key from the key slot and closes the door behind them.

 

2.

It is a beautiful café with lots of art hanging on the walls. Tekk feels a bit uneasy sitting on such soft cushions. Hans has ordered some breakfast for them already. A waitress comes and gives each of them a plate: fruit salad for Hans, an omelette for Tekk.

But Tekk stares at his plate, not touching the food.

‘I thought you said you like eggs?’ Hans leans over, slightly concerned.

‘Yes. But don’t they have some meat?’

‘Meat? Sure, meat is inside the omelette.’ Hans points out.

Tekk suspiciously pokes the omelette with his fork. Yes, there is some ham inside. He eats quickly, but he is clearly not satisfied: ‘I thought there would be real meat.’

‘You want real meat. Okay, I’ll ask them for a plate of smoked ham.’

Hans calls the waitress and orders a plate of ham. A few moments later, a large plate of pink tinged meat arrives, decorated with a few slices of melon.

At last, Tekk is happy. He instantly brings out his own walrus ivory knife from his pocket, which sends ripples of shock amongst the people around him. Before everyone’s silent gaze, the young Nanook picks up slices of ham with his knife and swallows them ravenously. Hans watches him eating, but doesn’t make any comment.

In no time, all the ham has been dispatched. Only the melon remains on the plate.

Tekk cleans the blade of his walrus ivory knife with a white napkin, then wipes his mouth. He now speaks.

‘You know, Hans, this meat is too soft. I like solid meat, like the caribou you get back in Greenland.’

‘Right, Caribou meat! I’m afraid we don’t have that here in Germany’.

‘You should try: more solid meat. Good for teeth.’

Hans finishes his fruit salad, and finally says: ‘I’m a vegetarian’.

‘What is a vegetarian?’

‘A vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat meat.’

‘Why?’ Tekk looks at his German companion in bewilderment: ‘You don’t have good teeth?’

Hans is amused. ‘My teeth are perfect,’ he says, ‘I’m not that old yet! But it’s nothing to do with teeth. It is just…how should I put it?’ He thinks for a few seconds, then remarks: ‘eating animals has a bad effect on the environment. Nor is it good for one’s health.’

Tekk looks at Hans with a quizzical expression. He wants to laugh, but he tries to be polite. All he can say is: ‘if my family heard about this, they wouldn’t believe it. You know, only caribous eat grass.’

Hans shrugs his shoulder. ‘Then I am a caribou. I eat grass and you can eat me. We make up a perfect food chain!’

‘You German people are funny.’ Tekk says, feeling a bit offended.

Hans finishes his coffee and takes out his wallet: ‘I think we should move on. I want to show you around.’

But Tekk can barely stand up. He feels a bit drowsy from the vodka he drank this morning in his hotel room.

‘Hey, have some water.’ Hans hands him a glass.

 

3.

Hans and Tekk walk along the street, like a comedy duo: one very tall, the other rather short. One walks fast, the other slow. They trundle down to Savingny Platz. The street brims with cafes and bars. Tekk looks around as he staggers along, curious about the world around him. He looks drunk, as is obvious to anyone passing. It’s strange to see a drunk Inuit, fully dressed up in furs, waddling through a fashionable district of Berlin. Hans tries to guide him as they cross over the street.

They pass a bar decorated with flowers and neon lights. In front of the bar, there are some chairs and tables. A lady in a miniskirt is conversing with a gentleman friend. Her naked legs are exposed, and are very attractive to Tekk’s eyes.

Tekk lurches towards the mini-skirted lady. Without saying a word, he lays his head on her white naked legs. The woman recoils in shock. Seeing his obvious drunkenness, she screams. Her gentleman friend stands up and drags Tekk away. He berates him: ‘was ist loss mit dir, mensch?’

Hans intervenes, pulling Tekk out just in time, apologizing profusely to the irate couple.

A few minutes later, Tekk finds himself in front of a huge building with a glass structure outside. ‘This is the headquarters of the International Climate Change Research Center,’ Hans says as he drags Tekk into the lift. ‘I want you to meet the chairman and the organizers of this conference. ’

‘Why?’ Tekk feels his head splitting in the elevator. He can barely walk straight, and he feels like vomiting.

‘Because they are the people who invited you for this trip, and pay your hotel bills. They would love to have you speak at the conference.’

As they enter the office, they are told to wait for a few minutes as the chairman is still in a meeting. Tekk sinks his body into a sofa. When Hans returns from the bathroom, he discovers that his friend is already sleeping, snoring loudly.

As Hans waits on the sofa patiently, one of the organizers comes to greet them. But as soon as he sees the state of their guest, he suggests to Hans: ‘why don’t we let this poor fellow rest today, and do some sightseeing if he wants to. He can come back for the conference tomorrow.’

Hans agrees.

In the afternoon, Hans takes Tekk to the Tiergarten, which makes the young man feel much better and more energetic. As they walk deep into the woods, they come across a pond. Some ducks are swimming around peacefully. Then they see a little canoe, with a man and a woman paddling. Tekk stares at the little canoe. He feels his heart swell with yearning. When the couple on the boat wave at him, he takes this as an invitation. He runs along the bank and, without removing his clothes, jumps into the water and swims towards them. This makes the couple on the boat a little frightened and bemused at the same time. Tekk manages to climb onto it in no time.

Tekk is laughing and having fun in his new canoe. Despite Hans’ yells and gesticulations from the bank, Tekk grabs the paddle from the man’s hands and starts to dip it into the water. Hans runs along the bank and yells to the couple: ‘Please excuse my friend! He is from Greenland – he doesn’t know the rules here!’

 

Read part two of this story

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.”