Israelische Schüler begegnen Deutschland - für viele ist es das erste Mal. Auszüge aus den Erfahrungsberichte von Rau-Stipendiaten der vergangenen Jahre (Texte in Englisch).
Ophir(17, f, from Tel Aviv and in 2007 as a guest in Barsinghausen / Lower Saxony): "I feel completely confused and overwhelmed even before trying to express my reflections on this program. This journey meant a lot to me, from different aspects and views… One of them is acceptance of history. Two days after coming back from Germany, I went to Poland with my classmates. This sequence of such important experiences had a great affect on me. Today I can say that I understand the subject of the holocaust better than before… To sum it all up, I'll quote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Alles, was uns begegnet, läßt Spuren zurück. Alles trägt unmerklich zu unserer Bildung bei. = Everything we encounter leaves traces behind. Everything contributes imperceptibly to our education."
Adir (17, m, from Ashkelon and in 2004 as a guest in Hannover / Lower Saxony): "My visit at the German school of my host Jasmin was an important experience for me. It was not in any way like an Israeli school. Generally everything was much more calm than here. If I would have to choose one word to describe the school, it would be relaxation. It seemed like there is less pressure on the students in Germany than in Israel... Another aspect of Germany I wanted to be exposed to was it’s past. Before I arrived in Germany, I asked Jasmin to visit the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen and so we did… Visiting Bergen-Belsen was the point that the 'Johannes-Rau-program' achieved it’s goal. A visit of a grandchild of a holocaust survivor to a concentration camp with a supporting German family is proving that the world is being reformed. In addition to that it means how much the Germany of today is a new Germany. Before my arrival in Germany, I shared my fears of the trip with my friends. After I came back, I was proud to tell them that I was welcomed everywhere and none of what I was afraid of has eventually become true. I’m pleased that I changed their point of view on Germany… During my stay over at my host family I learned about the German lifestyle by doing the daily things such as going to the supermarket or taking the bus, and I noticed how much it is different to Israel. I was so surprised that a football game gets the headlines in the daily newspapers. I had nothing to do but hoping to live in this kind of a place as well… In my point of view the Johannes-Rau-Program is based on what has already been proven: in order to solve problems for the long term, the greatest effort has to be made with the youth. I truly believe that successful reforms begin with us, the youth. All of us, the participants, defeated the racism, ignorance and narrow-mindedness. And this is what it was all about."
David (16, m, from Omer and in 2001 as a guest in Eisenach / Thuringia): "For me as an Israeli and a Jew, for obvious reasons, going to Germany was not as easy as going to any other country, and I must admit that I had some doubts on the way that I will be accepted there... but now I’ll be telling everyone about the „new Germany“ which I discovered, about this new open society and the great country which is an integral part of a strong united and open-minded new Europe.. I’ll be telling everyone here in Israel about the wonderful people whom I met everywhere and of their warm welcoming to me as an Israeli..."
Gili (16, f, from Hod Hasharon and in 2004 as a guest in Elsterwerda / Brandenburg): "I come from a holocaust-survivor family. My grandfather was born in Berlin. At the beginning, my family was not so happy to hear that I’m going to Germany; they believed that the Jewish people have nothing to look for in Germany and they didn’t want any contact with Germans in any way. But after they spoke with me daily on the phone while I was there and heard about all the amazing experiences that I had and how kind and wonderful the host family treated me, they changed their mind completely. They were the ones who insisted that I invite my host Julia to Israel. My whole family is now awaiting Julia and already making plans for her during her stay in April next year… I think that by choosing me to this program, you didn’t change only my personal image of Germany but also the image of everyone around me..."
Itay (18, m, from Ramat Gan and in 2000 as a guest in Dachau / Bavaria): "...Every morning I had to take the train to the school of my host and we had to get off at the Dachau train statin. Already before I left for Germany I knew that I will stay with a host family in the area of Dachau and I was afraid because of that. But in spite of this fact I went there and now I must say that it was one of the best experiences I had in my life..."
Amos (17, m, from Jerusalem and in 2008 as a guest in Woltersdorf / Brandenburg): "The journey to Germany was, no doubt, one of the most fabulous and enriching experiences I have ever gone through. The entire program was absolutely exciting, actually, even more than I had expected it to be… I must say that the official discussions at the German Foreign Office and at the Presidential Office were great experiences that have influenced me a lot and gave me some food for thought. The opportunity to ask difficult questions (with no simple answer), and to be answered by people who actually affect the world of tomorrow, was a priceless thing. Besides the fact that I could understand in a better way some world events and processes, I have realized that the situation has not been simple, and sometimes, even the smartest people, do not have satisfying answers. Therefore, we must be aware of today's events and do as much as we can in order to channel them to a better tomorrow… This journey broke some of the most massive walls of my conception. Internal walls, between myself and challenges I had thought I would not have been able to face, and some other barriers between me and other people with different beliefs. History proves that only if we "tear down the walls" we will be able to see reality properly, and walk towards better places."
Hagai (17, m, from Jerusalem and as a guest in Dinslaken / Northrhein-Westphalia): "One of the more special experiences in my days in Dinsalken was going to a synagogue in Duisburg on Shabat evening. The synagogue we went to was in a very modern and stylized building and had massive security on it. When we entered the prayer I was happy to be able to share with my German friends the traditions of my religion and also educate Alex more about his own. Although I’m not religious I did know the customs so I felt very knowledgeable throughout prayer and dinner. It was on one of the nights of Sukkot so we had dinner in a Sukka and talked to the Rabbi who was an Israeli originally...One of the best attractions in Berlin was doing the meetings with people from the German administration. Since I am heavily interested in current and international events I was delighted to meet such important diplomatic and political figures. The meeting that was most interesting to me... was in the foreign ministry. To speak with an experienced diplomat was just wonderful and I had a lot of appreciation to how he talked although I didn’t like the fact that he was so good at this job that he left us with no clear messages..."
Re’ut (17, f, from Herzliya and in 2001 as a guest in Potsdam / Brandenburg): "…This trip to Germany has changed alot for me... It also made me realize how important it is to talk with people here in Israel about the present Germany because people there are trying as hard as they can, especially my host, to change everything of the left-overs of the past..."
Raya (17, f, from Osfiya and in 2002 as a guest in Dresden / Saxony): "I’ve learned so much and had a lot of fun thanks to my host Linda and her family and friends. I had an unforgettable time in Dresden, a very beautiful city with very friendly people, a lot of water and amazing views around it... Linda and I became real friends. We realized this more when we met the other group in Berlin. We started to understand each other by eye contact or a smile. We talked about everything possible, our opinions and feelings, families, friends, schools - everything!..."
Ellie (17, f, from Pardes Hanna and in 2009 as a guest in Berlin): "Just seeing the Israelis - in the delegation - that I was going with made me know that it would be a life changing experience. Every one of the teenagers that were picked was just what the group needed- versatility. I was so excited to meet teenagers from all over Israel... My host Theresa and I had some really good talks about Germanys and Israel's history, we even had some talks about the holocaust and it was very interesting to hear what Theresa had to say about it, she even took me to a concentration camp a little bit outside of Berlin. It was very hard on Theresa seeing all of the things there but it was very important for me to go and so we did. Another great thing was that my grandfather grow up in Berlin and Theresa took me to see his old house! I was so excited to see it and she was excited for me!..."
Tamir (17, m, from Jerusalem and in 2002 as a guest in Erfurt / Thuringia): "I really enjoyed the experience of being a part of something that’s foreign and unfamiliar to me. At first I was afraid to be hosted by a German family but after I arrived in Germany all my fears faded away... Meeting with President Johannes Rau was very good. I could feel the enthusiasm in his speech while talking to us about Israel. I wish more people would be at least half as excited as he is while the word Israel is being heard. I was very proud to virtually meeting and shake hands with the man who stands behind the program..."
Assaf (18, m, from Herzlia and in 2003 as a guest in Rostock / Mecklenburg): "Thanks to all the other people involved and of course to Johannes Rau himself for starting this project. Thank you all very much for giving me the opportunity to learn about Germany and at the same time having the best time of my life with these same teachers, the German youth.
My stay in Rostock with Meik was amazing. The family was very nice and warm and I really felt at home. I think that it is a very good idea to let us stay alone for a week only with our hosts, in that way we can really learn about them and get to know not only who they are by what they are saying but also by the way they live their life. And if the goal of this delegation is to get to know the new Germany, that is the best way possible to communicate this message… During the time in Berlin it was most important to me to personally meet with the President, Mr. Johannes Rau. … The concert of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra was the best of all the activities we had. I, as a trance/techno lover thought I will go there and be bored. But when the music started, it had a certain magic I can’t explain. It just took me by surprise and I must admit I cried during the first part. This activity should always stay in the program… I learned a lot about Germany and also a little German (Ich heiße Assaf. Dankeschön.) I got to know the German youth and their thoughts about Israel and about the Holocaust, also the opinion of parliament members about issues that I was troubled with and most important, I got to know a German person for who he is now and not by what the past said he is. So, thank you all and keep up the good work."
Muna (16, f, from Kfar Kana and in 2003 as a guest in Erfurt / Thuringia): "I always try to remind myself of that day when I first looked at the questionnaire, the idea was irrestible: a scholarship to Germany!... My stay in Germany was an extraordinary experience in which I discovered new different perspectives that replaced my prejudices, met people from another culture and had the possibility to share it with them, by living the daily life with a German family… I think that youth exchange programs are the key to open up the doors and let the light come in... And I as an Arab could also find a common language with the Jews in the group. At first I had fears that there might be problems of difficult discussions but they all faded away. Warm relationships were made during those five days we spent together in Berlin between all the three sides: Arabs, Jews and Germans..."
Bea (19, f, from Tel Aviv and in 2009 as a guest in Gauting / Bavaria): "...I realized the differences between the cultures in everything we did, for example, while hiking, the German host girls didn't want to stop until we got to the top of the mountain, while us Israelis stopped many times to rest and eat. The German girls seemed more involved in the achievement of getting to the top... In Berlin many German kids came up to me and told me how different Israelis - seem - from Germans, that we are loud and more social, that we aren't afraid to go up to a group of strangers and just start talking and playing with them, and they liked that. Some even told me that Israeli guys are more brave and ideological and they have more to deal with because they serve in the army, so they have more direction than the average German youth..."
Ifat (17, f, from Givat Ada and in 2005 as a guest in Berlin): "I’m very glad I got to experience Berlin from a citizen’s point of view. Living in a typical Berlin flat, going to Julia’s school and pastime hangouts, meeting Julia’s friends, all of this really made me feel that I’m living Berlin and not just floating by in a touristish bubble, missing the essence… My Grandfather was born in Berlin and raised there until age thirteen which was in 1933. I passed by his old apartment building and tried to picture what Berlin was like all those years ago, and what it was like during the time in between then and now. And if it weren’t for the memorials and the information billboards that the city council hung up and the little lines of cobblestones running timidly through the streets in the center of town, I really wouldn’t have guessed. This filled me with very mixed emotions and deepened my disability to grasp just how the Holocaust came about. I was also very interested to learn about Berlin’s history throughout my stay in various museums and memorials… But I am mostly thrilled that Julia and I became such close friends during our twelve days together..."
Ben (17, m, from Tel Aviv and in 2003 as a guest in Heiligenstadt / Thuringia): "In the first moments in the Lufthansa airplane, when we departed from Israel, and the security video was playing (in German), I had this thought in my head – that’s it, there is no way back from here. I have to admit that even though I can say that I come from an open-minded house, and even though my parents must have thought it’s safe for me to go to Germany, I had this bad feeling in my heart. I don’t know if I was simply stressed or just a little bit scared from the "unknown" but I know that this feeling was there. Finally we arrived in Frankfurt and immediately left the group to meet our hosts: Konrad and Raphael. Our long but interesting trip to Heiligenstadt by train was a very good opportunity for us, the 4 boys, to get to know each other. From the first moment we "clicked"... We spoke about politics and life in general and I liked the fact we got to know each other before meeting the whole families. I mean having time to talk between ourselves, without grown-ups… This program gave me some of the best answers I have for some questions today, both about Israel (after thinking about everything so much) and about Germany. It simply was the environment to "learn" and to "teach"… I will carry all these best memories with me for many years, and I don’t think I will feel bad while flying with Lufthansa or to Germany... Dankeschön."
Anna(17, f, from Hadera and in 2009 as a guest in Berlin): "I did not know what to expect as I have never participated in delegations or other programs before so it was all new to me. However, the main reason was the remnants of the World War II that I still feel at my home. I do not come from a holocaust survivors' family. My family experienced it from the Russian side, as my great-grandfather fought in the red army to win this war but was killed in a battle, in a place that is still unknown, leaving my grandmother as a child alone with her mother. I know all her sufferings during and after that war and it was really important for me to see and experience what he battled for, what he died for and there was no better place for me to really understand it than in Berlin itself, where I was hosted."