European Spring Day 2010

Festival in Austria



The Spring Day 2010 Festival in Austria was held on May 21, 2010 at the House of the European Union in Vienna, which had been opened in 2009. 60 of the 77 schools, which had registered until the end of April, had submitted a short report of their current European projects, and 14 had submitted their projects for the competition. The motto of the competition was "Social Responsibility - Social Competence", and the prizes were sponsored by ENIS Austria and by the Vikings American Football Club Wien. Three schools were awarded with netbooks for their work, and one school received a special prize: the participation in an American Football Game plus the possibility for the students, to look behind the scenes and get in contact with the players and the cheer leaders.   


Ministerialrat Dr. Hawle, who moderated the event skilfully and humorously, could welcome the following guests: Mag. Othmar Karas, MEP (Deputy Chairman of the EVP at the European Parliament), Mag. Georg Pfeifer (Head of the Information Office of the European Parliament for Austria), Dkfm. Marc Fähndrich (Deputy Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Austria), Mag. Thomas Hennefeld (Landessuperintendent of the Evang. Kirche HB in Österreich) and Konsistorialrat Erwin Ecker (Europe Commissioner of the Kath. Bischofskonferenz in Österreich).  


After the opening welcome of Min.Rat Dr. Hawle, the hosts, Mag. Pfeifer and Dkfm. Fähndrich welcomed us all to the House of the European Union. Since its opening in summer 2009, this new center of the EU representations in Vienna has become a popular venue for Europe related events, debates, panel discussions and all kinds of festivals. And that was also one of the goals of this new house: to become a meeting point, where people can meet, discuss and also collect a lot of brochures and leaflets - and where we can celebrate Europe's unity in diversity.

Dkfm. Marc Fähndrich and Mag. Georg Pfeifer
open the festival
According to this year's motto we had invited people, who could offer the students an insight into social aspects of the European Union: Which significance do minorities have, how can they be integrated into the society? How can we define social responsibility, and how can we bring this term to life?
The motto of the European Union "United in Diversity" encourages all EU citizens, to preserve their identity on the one side, but also to realize, how much our cultural, linguistic and religious diversity can enrich our daily lives. We have to learn how to live social competence - like many other things in life. Who else could teach us better in this field than representatives of religious denominations? It is one of their main domains to comment on social topics - even more, if they are representing a minority, like Mag. Hennefeld, who is the head of a very small religious denomination.
from left to right: Dkfm. Fähndrich, Konsistorialrat Ecker, Landessuperintendent Hennefeld, MEP Mag. Karas, Mag. Pfeifer
It goes without saying, that the minorities have to be accepted by the majorities, such as the Roman Catholic Church, represented in this festival by Konsistorialrat Ecker. The partners should share responsibilities, when it comes to accepting and supporting the socially disadvantaged and to integrating them into the society. Of course, the difficult financial situation of some EU member states was also part of the debate. Especially Mag. Karas, Mag. Pfeifer and Dkfm. Fähndrich contributed some very important and interesting aspects. They made it clear, how important solidarity is in such difficult situations. One member state gets in trouble - and the other member states are ready to support this state. One single state can hardly tackle the challenge of irresponsible speculations on the world financial market. But if the community of states supports each other, such difficulties can be overcome. In addition to this, the common clearing of mistakes, which can hopefully be avoided in the future, is part of the social competence.
After the very lively and inspiring debate, it was the students' turn to present their projects. The ASO Langenstein (Upper Austria) was there with the whole ASO Kids Band. Dir. Erich Pammer and Dipl. Päd Bettina Auböck presented this integrative project of the school, which offers the possibility for the young people, to explore making music as an integrative activitiy. The motto of the band is "guitars instead of weapons" - a clear signal against violence! It would have been too costly and time-consuming for the band, to bring all their equipment. But modern media solved the problem: we could listen to and watch a performance of the band in a video.
AR Michaela Schaller handed over the certificate and Mag. Karas presented the netbook - and now we hope, that also this form of new media will be implemented in the work at the ASO Langenstein.
Already for some years, the students of the Musik-HS Hermagor (Carinthia) have now worked on one special topic for a whole school year.  After „Native Americans" and „In the footsteps of the Aborigines", the students continued their trip around the world in 2009/10 by working on „Child Labour in Asia". Two students of the so-called integration class together with Mag. Margit Wieser, the principal of the school, and Bernhard Plattner, the coach of the project, presented their work, and especially its highlight, a 13 minute video, which had been produced in cooperation with BLUE CUBE in Klagenfurt.
Certitifate and netbook were handed over by Mag. Hennefeld and Mag. Karas. When the students start working on the next year's topic, they will certainly be able to make good use of the netbook.
The students of the Österreichische Gymnasium Prag (Czech Republic) had also worked on a very extensive project during this school year. They had approached the topic "Social Responsibility - Social Competence" from the side of literature and had read and interpreted poems on poverty.

The young people formed a radio team, read and interpreted the poems in German and Czech, and recorded them on a CD, which is now available at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Prague.
Konsistorialrat Ecker handed over the certificate, and the netbook was presented by Mag. Karas. The former Austrian ambassador in Sweden, Dr. Stephan Toth, who had supported the activities of Prof. Seidl for years, participated in the festival as well as Mag. Astrid Lukasser from the Austrian Ministry of Education, who is responsible for the Austrian schools abroad. We can be sure, that the netbook will be of good use for the next project of the school.
Last but not least the students of the 1AS of the VBS-HAKI Akademiestraße (Vienna) and their head teacher Sigrid Bittner-Fuchs presented their very interesting and innovative project, which had aimed at forming a perfect class team from the beginning of the school year. As Sigrid Bittner-Fuchs wanted to make it possible for all students of the class to participate in so-called team-building days in September 2009, she tried to remove any financial barrier. Therefore, the class took out a micorcredit from the Vienna Business Circle, which is slowly but constantly re-paid by the youngsters. In order to earn some money, they organized a number of school buffets on various special days like the Open House and the Parents-Teacher-Days, and they also published an international cook book.
Ambassador Dr. Toth and Mag. Karas handed over the certifitcate and the special prize: the American Football Game of the Vikings will certainly by great fun for the students.
Finally, all guests could enjoy the delicious buffet and taste the traditional Spring Day cake.

It was a real pleasure, that we could already talk about organizing the next EU related projects while enjoying the buffet. The idea of a united Europe is present in the schools and is carried on to the future!


© Dr. Susanne Pratscher


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