Hello everyone! It is Hanka again after a very long break bringing you news about what is happening in the Amazonas. On the 17th of November and 4th of December, our 4 volunteers organized Intercultural evenings, during which they shared some interesting information about their countries and their cultures. In this article, I will tell you more about how it looked like, share at least few interesting facts about each country and tell you whether something similar will happen again.
What is an Intercultural evening?
Intercultural evenings are evenings organized by international volunteers to share their cultures. Introducing basic information about their countries, talking about different prejudices and stereotypes, listening to their local music, and tasting local food are some of the examples of things you can experience there. It is an open space to ask any questions you may have about their countries or cultures.
Italy and Germany
This first Intercultural evening took place on the 17th of November and was organized by volunteers Katrina (from Germany) and Dino (from Italy). The evening started with a short introduction of the volunteers, as well as, participants and their motivations to come. Then Katrina and Dino presented their countries one by one.
To present Germany, Katrina first started with the showing of the map, and to make it more interactive, asked the participants if they can point out which countries border Germany and asked whether they have been somewhere in Germany before. The participants also learned more about Darmstadt, the hometown of Katrina. It is the city of science and home to the ESA’s European Space Operation center. Also, did you know that it has its own chemical element named after itself? Well, it does! It is called darmstadtium (Ds) and has been discovered in Darmstadt in 1995. You could have also learned more about German traditions, foods, and drinks. Some fun facts were presented as well. For example, who would have thought that attempting to escape from prison is not punishable in Germnany! Really, it is true! As long as, you don‘t hurt anybody or damage the property you will not get an additional punishment for this attempt.
Dino has decided to present Italy in not such a typical way as talking about food, fashion, drinks, and places. He rather explained the functioning of Italian politics, how political bodies are divided, and what the foreign policies of Italy look like. One of the interesting things you could have learned is that Italy is both, a member of G7 and G20, even though it is quite a small country compared to the other members. Italy is also one of the founders of the EU! To do something more interactive as well, Dino showed various gestures and asked the participants to guess what these gestures could mean. And if you wanted to learn some interesting facts? Italy, as one of the few countries in Europe, has never had a terrorist attack!
To also engage the participants they played a stereotypes game. First, the participants wrote down what stereotypes they have or know about Germany or Italy on a piece of paper. Afterward, it was more of the discussion to find out how did they come up with these stereotypes. Did they have a personal experience or did they just hear about them? Dino and Katrina also tried to explain their point of view on it, to either confirm it or explain why they don’t think it really applies.
The best for the last of course! Both volunteers prepared their traditional dishes. Katrina prepared Kartoffelsalat, which is a potato salad, while Dino made Caprese salad, made of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. They could also enjoy Fanta which is originally a German drink. During this time participants could also ask any questions they might have.
Slovakia and France
On the 4th of December on Saturday evening the Slovak and French evening was organized by volunteers Hanka (from Slovakia) and Valentine (from France). The evening began with the fun game of guessing which fun fact belongs to which country. For example, did you know that Slovakia has a woman holding a Guinness World Record for the most prolific female murderer? Her name is Elizabeth Bathory and she has over 600 kills under her belt! Also, would you guess that in France the law forbids kissing on train platforms? This unbelievable law has been in order since 1910 and was established to prevent the costly delays of the trains and overcrowding of the platforms.
After this little energizer and getting the participants more engaged, we continued with the short presentation of the countries. And I don‘t mean the typical boring information you can find easily on google yourself.
We talked about Slovak traditions and folklore, which involved the introduction of the world‘s first reservation of folk architecture, the little village called Čičmany. In this reservation, you can go around the houses to see how people lived in the older times. However, people still live in this village so you should only go inside the houses that are marked as exhibitions. Otherwise, it can happen that you walk into someone‘s living room. The participants also learned about the Slovak national hero Jánošík, who was an outlaw running around the forests with his band, robbing the rich and giving to the poor. Yes, we can basically call him a Slovak Robin Hood. Unfortunately, in 1713 he was sentenced to death and was hung on a hook through his left rib. We also talked about traditional food, nature, castles, and caves.
Where France is concerned, the participants learned what are the traditions and rules if you want to live in France. This, for example, includes eating a lot of cheese, since there are more than 300 different kinds of cheese in France. You should also know how the roundabouts work, since the biggest one in Paris, Arc de Triomphe roundabout, can be up to 10 lanes of traffic thick. There are no actual road markings separating the lines either. Valentine also recommended lots of different places you should visit if you ever traveled to France. For example, Normandie, Paris, Annecy, Provence, French Alps, and also not to forget French islands as Corse, Reunion, or Guadeloupe.
We also had a discussion about what stereotypes people know about France or Slovakia. We tried to react to them and explain whether we believe them to be true and where we think these stereotypes came from. And lastly, each of us prepared our local food for the participants to try. Valentine prepared French crapes (with Nutella or jam) and I prepared „zemiakové placky“, which is basically a potato pancake. We enjoyed these dishes over a nice conversation where everyone had a chance to ask questions.
Will something like this happen again?
There is not a specific plan just yet regarding this, however, it is possible that during the warmer time we will have some kind of event where all 4 of us volunteers will present some parts of our cultures. There will be information posted about these kinds of events on Amazonas Facebook so be sure to follow that page!
I hope you learned something new from this article about our countries! I am excited to see you at the next interesting activity we will organize! That is all from me for this article😊 Till the next time!