25 July 2007

Berlin: Party without Drugs?!

"Party without Drugs?!" was an exchange with youth from Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, and Spain at Kids & Co. in east Berlin from July 5 to 13, 2007. It was funded by the European Union's Youth in Action Program. Three teens (second picture, right to left) and three teens (in front of the Brandenburg Gate) from Tapa participated in the exchange - the only Estonians, along with a young German woman from the European Volunteer Service program, who was working in Tapa, and me (with Mr. Confucius).

At the beginning of the exchange, youth chose to attend meetings, workshops, and rehearsals, led by young adult artists, on African drums, theatre, dance, or juggling and plate spinning. On the last night of the exchange, each of the four groups performed what it had created, prepared, and practiced during the week.

Risto (on the drums in the center) brought down the house with his own routine that made it easy and fun for all of us in the audience to clap along with the beat. The other Risto from Estonia (sixth picture) starred in an original fable about a priest at Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallinn. Risto played the priest looking for a little more fun in his life; his fellow actors represented the three onion-shaped spires of the church.

Marge (on the far left in the seventh picture) turned into a Fly Girl with a frenetic dance routine worthy of any T-Pain music video! The girls were horizontal to the floor - and on the floor - as often as they were vertical. Toomas mastered the age-old art of balancing a spinning plate on a stick (it's all in the wrist), juggling balls and bowling pins, and, of course his favorite, fire!

In addition to the workshops during the day, there were "country nights" after supper, designed to introduce exchange participants to each others' countries. During Estonia Night, Risto and Katharina, the German volunteer, strutted down our makeshift catwalk in traditional Estonian folk costumes.

There was lots of scheduled down time: to play chess, billiards, fusball, and soccer at Kids & Co.; to walk around the Hellersdorf business district, the Berlin neighborhood we were in (which had an Aldi as well as an indoor shopping mall and a movie theatre complex); to take the metro to Alexanderplatz and Potsdamer Platz, the heart of Berlin; and to visit the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery, where "we" Estonians wrote our names (14th picture). Of course, we couldn't leave Berlin without completing an evaluation, which the Estonians youth did in Estonian and English. I just proofread it.