My impressions of St. Marienthal by Pilar Medrano

PilarPeople usually say that the first impression -about somebody or something- is the important one. I am not completely sure that this is always the case, but I believe that it does have a strong influence in your later attitude towards people or places.

As a school this is our second year in the International Seminar, and it is my first time both in the seminar and in St. Marienthal. And I must say that my first impression could not have been better. During the last few months, my colleague had provided me with information about the seminar. However, both the location and the development of the seminar have been more engaging than I had expected.

From the very first night the students got involved and became part of a big family within which they are building new relationships, growing and learning. Coming out of their own world helps them to understand other people’s problems -which may not be so different from their own- and to consider other ways of doing things. The initial games, the debate and the workshops have all helped them mix and work with students from quite different backgrounds, languages and expectations. It is a pleasure to watch them during the workshops, planning, discussing ideas, negotiating, in order to achieve a common outcome. And it is even more impressive to see them tackle the complex topic which they studied and have been debating.

As a language teacher, I think languages can sometimes build up walls. In the seminar, the students are obviously jumping over them and learning to communicate in another language, turning the barrier into a bridge. And last, but not least, the social part of the programme, which allows them to strengthen the relationship with their mates. Music, evening conversations, … are an enjoyable and fruitful way to get to know and value other people.

During this week, Marienthal also has an important part to play: the beauty of the setting, the light and the colours, the peace and isolation facilitate the contact amongst students.

Definitely, an intense and productive week which will have an impact on students’ life and on their attitude as European citizens.

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