Experiencing tolerance

December 07, 2012

UntitledGerman-Russian workshop in online journalism was held in SPSU.

The restaurant, where we meet is a little bit kitsch, though elegant and nice. Restrained grey walls, bright flower paintings on the ceiling, many-tier red lamps and light music make this place perfect for a quiet Thursday evening. 20 young Russian and German students are sitting at the table having their dinner together. But there are far from having an agreeable leisure time, though.

- Today we had three interviews and that wasn’t what we expected, - says Valeria Kuzmina, 2nd year student SPbSU. The others start giving advises on her story. She is one of the participants of Russian-German workshop organized by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications SPbSU in cooperation with the “German Youth Press Union”.

The seminar was held for the fourth time in a row within the partnership of the School with the German Youth Press Union, but for the first time the workshop was held in two parts in two countries. It started in October 11-17th in Leipzig (see our report URL eng.jf.spbu.ru/news/42-30.html and continued in November 19-25th in Saint Petersburg. Both seminars were devoted to the topic “Minorities and diversity”.

- When we are talking about tolerance, it’s better to learn through your own experience rather than listen to theory. - says Anna Litvinenko, docent of the School and one of the organizers of the seminar. - We wanted our students to get acquainted with the issue in Germany and in Russia.

The first challenge for participants was to agree upon the aspects of the topic their want to cover in form of an article or a radio podcast. Victoria Mokrezova and Lisa Höhenleitner chose cyclization of Saint Petersburg.

-    Bikes are rare to find in Saint Petersburg, and it's also not quite the season for bikes now. But there were a few on the Nevky Prospekt, and we often needed to run, pursuing them, - 19-year- old Victoria says. -Cyclists were at first a bit scared but after we explained our goal, they became very friendly and nice. Victoria and Lisa were searching for their heroes until 6 p.m., so they were under the threat not to meet a deadline for submitting the script for the podcast. On the next day they recorded their package with the help of Pauline Tillmann, editor-in-chief from the German side.

The most challenging issue was the language problem. Russian and German students were matched in pairs to prepare their articles, and they used English as a common language. Yet the tricky part was to write one article either in German or Russian, therefore Russians were to be eyes and ears for Germans in St. Petersburg.

Alongside with working on their topics, participants visited Lenin’s cabinet in Smolny, talked to the press attaché of German Consulate General, had an excursion on a Russian TV-Station, and discussed the problem of homophobia with organizers of the “Side by Side” cinema-festival.

-    For us it is very interesting to discuss social issues with Russian participants. - said Lisa Richter, project manager of the ‘German Youth press Union’. - For most of the Germans it was their first time in St. Petersburg and in Russia in general, and they had a chance to compare how the journalistic work here differs from Germany.

-    It’s nice to be here, in Saint Petersburg. I’m very excited to discover Russian culture, because I knew nothing about it before, - Sarah Koeksal, the 23-years old German student said. - In Russia interpersonal communication seems to be more important than back home.

The seminar was supported by the Russian-German forum "Petersburg Dialogue", the German Consulate General in St. Petersburg, the "Russian-German youth exchange" and the Committee for Foreign Relations of the St. Petersburg City Administration.

- I find the idea of the seminar very good: in just few days the young journalists get not only theoretical knowledge but also practical training, - says Daniel Ricco, the head of the department for culture and media of the German Consulate General. – While working together, the participants managed to break some of the stereotypes, to awaken interest to each other's culture and to make friends. What more could you want?

Pieces of writing prepared by joint efforts of Petersburg students and their German counterparts on the topic “Minorities and Diversity” will be published in February at the Russian-Germany exchange web-portal «То4ка-treff» (http://www.goethe.de/ins/ru/lp/prj/drj/top/sta/ruindex.htm).

The results of the two previous workshops, in German and in Russian can be found here: "All-Nighters", made in Hamburg, and "Tasty", made in Berlin.

By Elena Nikulicheva

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