25th anniversary of the IPW

Hello to all my blog readers! After two years of online teaching from Prague and in Nordhausen (Digitally united at the IPW 2021) and a hybrid version last year (Reunited at the IPW 2022), the 25th anniversary of the International Project Week (IPW) at Nordhausen University of Applied Science returned to a full in-person programme earlier this month. Although I did not participate in the very first IPW back in 1999, I was there for the second one in 2000 and have only missed one since, making this event an integral part of my life.

I usually enjoy the train ride from Prague to Dresden but, this year, en route to Nordhausen, we encountered a problem on the track close to the Czech-German border. This meant we all had to get off the train at Ústí nad Labem and board a train to the next station, a village called Povrly. Our progress was slow, with four changes before Dresden, and the whole journey took almost twice as long as usual. I anticipated being stranded somewhere along the way but, fortunately, I arrived in Nordhausen in the early hours of the morning and managed to check into my hotel. I was grateful that I also had the phone number of a colleague staying in the same hotel who said I could call if I was locked out. Thanks, Bruce! I was disappointed that I couldn’t join my friends and colleagues for dinner that night, but ultimately relieved to have reached my destination.

This year, I made myself available for consultations with university staff about tricky translation questions and similar queries. I also had the opportunity to visit colleagues’ courses. For instance, I joined Amerjit and Pavlin’s session on the martial art Gatka – but I only practised with the sticks rather than the much more dangerous sword! The next day, my friend and colleague Michael interviewed me about presentation tips for his students. I also had the privilege of observing Daphnée, Jim, Paul and Laurentiu at work with their students. Despite the diversity of the subjects, a common thread emerged: all of my colleagues were great at connecting with the students and I was equally impressed by the students themselves. One observation was that when business students were given a task, they completed it at lightning speed, while the social studies students – as ‘people people’ – were much keener to listen and engage in discussions.

Music therapy room at the centre

As part of this year’s programme, there was a visit to the Heilpädagogische Zentrum in Wülfingerode on Tuesday afternoon. This educational centre caters for people with special needs. Its remarkable director, Gisela Morgenroth, is a force to be reckoned with. She had even enlisted the assistance of some local senior citizens who stationed themselves near the school gates to report any attempts by children to run away. This excursion was followed by a lovely dinner at the Ziegenalm Sophienhof, a farmhouse café where guests can sample the farm’s excellent produce, including goat’s cheese and ice cream.

On Wednesday afternoon, the official inauguration of the new fire station took place. Since the event was organized by Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the city of Nordhausen, it included speeches by the acting mayor, Alexandra Rieger, a former student, and Prof. Jörg Wagner, President of the university.

The closing dinner at the university on Thursday night was a networking event which gave the international lecturers the very welcome opportunity to speak to the university staff while enjoying a delicious buffet. There was more networking on Saturday as this year’s IPW ended with an open day on campus. Our team, CoLoR Language Service (Christine, Linda and Robin), set up a stand on the International Office table. We displayed and distributed flyers and other promotional material such as colourful keyrings to showcase our translation and editing services to the various university departments (email: colorlanguageservice@gmail.com).

We were fortunate with the weather and able to enjoy outdoor performances of Gatka and Basket Beat (see the video below) in the afternoon. The final event was an evening gig at the Karzer student club by the talented band Solche from Chemnitz.

Gatka performance by Amerjit Walia

My return journey was much smoother, despite Schienenersatzverkehr (rail replacement service, i.e. a bus) between Sangerhausen and Halle. I particularly appreciated the scenic ride along the Elbe from Dresden to Prague with no delays this time. I arrived home tired but happy after another wonderful week in Nordhausen. Many thanks to Jenny Ettrich and the IPW team for organizing everything, and to the President of the university, Jörg Wagner, for extending the invitation. I’m hoping to be back for the next IPW in April 2024.

Basket Beat led by Felipe and Rita

Blog post edited by Robin Finesilver.