Going to new Horizon

Colin Gioia Connors, 27, from the United States. He was born in California, but now he is living in Wisconsin, which is in the middle part of the country. He is doing Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies. And one of his main interests in academics is researching the Viking Age. During my visit to International Summer School at University of Oslo this year I had a chance to have an interesting discussion with him.

Imran: What brought you towards Scandinavian Studies?

Colin: That’s a bit of a long story. I was studying archaeology in California when I was invited to participate on an archaeological excavation in Iceland. And that was a Viking Age excavation. So we dug up an old Viking chieftain’s hall, um, in previous years they dug up a church and a graveyard. Uh, and they had also found a burial mound that was in the shape of a ship. So it was a very exciting excavation and I just got very interested in the research in the Viking Age.

So after that I started studying in a Master’s in Iceland and learned Icelandic. And after I had been there for a few years, I really wanted to learn Norwegian. Um, and I thought, what better way than to just go there and try it.

So I came to Norway first two years ago, and I worked as a volunteer in the countryside. P1000222And I lived here for nine months. And I just learned by being here and doing it and speaking it. So I really wanted to come back this time so that I could actually get some instruction–learn some grammar, learn some spelling, and just improve myself.

Imran: Now you are here once again, do you think the summer school experience would be beneficial for your future?

I think this experience here this summer will be very valuable for my career, but it is also just a personal goal because I have a lot of friends here in Norway and it is important to me to be able to communicate with them and talk to them in their own language.

So while I have been studying and working quite hard here, it is a very intensive program and I really enjoy it one of the most amazing things has been being able to have some free time to go see my friends, go out running. One of the greatest things about Oslo, I think is that you can be anywhere in Oslo and you are only 3 km away from the forest and this forest just stretches out into infinity as far as I can see. I don’t think there are many cities can claim that. It seems to be a big problem with many cities that they just keep spreading out and spreading out and it is really a blessing to have nature so close at hand to go explore, so when I have time in the evening, I like to go out by myself.

I love being able to share my experiences with other people, but it is important for me to have some time to myself. And so being able to go off on my own and explore on my own time it is a chance for me to relax and recharge my batteries. If I spend time outside I am just inspired by what I see and everything that I fell, so then I can come back and work twice as hard for the rest of the week.

Imran: What do you do in your spare time?

Colin: I love being outside. Um, basically, whenever I am inside I am always very anxious to get out…well of course, if there is good weather, if there is bad weather I am happy to be inside but whenever there is good weather I feel trapped I just want to get out.

And so I love riding my bicycle, I love running, I really like swimming and I have thought about next year maybe joining my school’s triathlon team, but not because I’m any good at P1010224any of these things but only because I really like to do them. Um, I think I’m a decent cyclist, a decent runner; I’m terrible at swimming though. Um, I sink like a rock. But it is something that I really love doing. I just enjoy being outside and moving my body.

When I am outside and riding my bicycle, for example, um, I just like being able to go as far as I can. Always going to the next horizon, and just trying to see what I can see. Part of the joy of it is just, um, exhausting my body, actually, um, is something that just in itself for me is enjoyable. But always being able to move and get to a new place and see something new.

So when I’m hiking or when I’m cycling, it’s often about trying to go as far as I can and as hard as I can and to push myself.

Um, but when I am with my father, for example, and if we for a hike together, my father is a botanist, so he loves looking at plants, um and if we have a goal, trying to get to the top of a mountain, we’ll almost never make it, because we are stopping every five minutes to look at a plant. And we’re getting down on our hands and knees and we’re examining it. We want to understand it, and figure out what it’s about. So, on the one hand I really going as far and seeing everything on as big and grand a scale as I can, but other times I love just focusing on what is small what’s immediate.

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Imran: What is this “Gioia” mean written on your T-shirt?

Colin: So I have been wearing a t shirt that proudly bears my middle name Gioia, which is an Italian family name. And so people are often interested talking to Americans, we are a countries of immigrants, people want to know where my family came from. That side of my family came from Italy, but I am regular European- American, because I have ancestors from Germany, Slovakia, Ireland, France, but I have the strongest connection to my Italian side because my great grandfather wrote a memoir about his experiences.

When he immigrated in 1904 and reading it, just tremendously inspiring, that was already over a hundred years ago, So i feel removed from his experience, I had a comfortable life, so I never had to go through what he experiences, arriving to America with no money, and needing to walk to the next town for a job and then for very little money, and then walk home. I think being about to have that kind of memory is very important.

And it is still how America is today, there are many that come to our country and work just as hard today, it’s just sad that I think some people forget that connection because came from the same kind of experience.

Imran: You are a Fire Marshal here? Would you like to share your last Friday’s drill experience?

Colin: I had earplugs in my ears in order to be able to sleep better, so I barely heard the fire alarm, I was very slow and groggy, so looked around and asked my roommate, is that the fire alarm, and he said, yeah, I think that is, so I jumped up because I knew this was my SAMSUNGtime to shine because I am the fire marshal. so I closed my windows and put on my jacket, and started going around, knocking on doors, trying to get everyone outside. Fortunately they did not do it too early in the morning; it was a very invigorating way to start the day. My blood was pumping, so I was happy that they chose to do this on a Friday so I could take it easy for the rest of the day.

Imran: Do you like your stay in Blindern dormitory?

Colin:  I am very satisfied with the dorm experience…being in a place with so many people from so many countries is really refreshing. As an American, and here there are many Americans, but I just don’t have much interest in talking to them because when I am in America I can talk to an American every day. But here I actually get the chance to talk to people from other countries and that is rare and nice. I can have conversation with people that don’t look anything like me, don’t dress the same way, as I do, it is wonderful to find out how they think, how they see the world, and what their experience have been, and it is easy for me to strike up these conversations because almost everyone knows something about America, or have an opinion about American, and the great thing is to be able to discover these nuances and difference, because often, you find that you have a lot in common with the other person.

Imran: Thank you for your time. It was pleasure talking to you!

Colin: You’re welcome!

Let Nature be Nature: Sustainable Lodging in Eifel National Park

Imran Mehr, Maryann IJeoma Egbujor, So Min Kim

Climate change is on move. The extinction of global species is proceeding unabated. Both the natural landscapes as well as its flora and fauna are threatened in many cases. It has serious consequences, especially for tourism regions and their service providers. The tourism sector is a victim but at the same time contributor to this unsustainable development.

This is where the concept ‘Viabono’ (sustainable lodging facilities) emerged. Viabono is a landmark, a kind of beacon to facilitate the guest ‘s decision for sustainable travel products without ruining the fun, neither by the host nor the guest himself. The core objectives of Viabono are to promote credible environmentally and climate-friendly but at the same time to certify a modern tourism in Germany also.

The Eifel National Park is the cooperation partner of Viabono. This park is situated around 65 kilometres southwest of Cologne. It is spread over an area of 110 square kilometres. Nature has been left once more to its own eternal cycle of growth and decay. It is set in a dramatic landscape of trees interspersed with water, which allow you to experience the fascinating natural diversity of a wilderness at first hand.

Can local people actually take benefit of growing market of tourism? Are we enjoying tourism at the expense of nature? The reflection on these two questions brought an idea of `responsible and sustainable’ tourism for our video-production project. Along with my fellows, Maryann, So Min Kim, and I visited the Eifel National Park last week to trace the answers of above questions.

Klangwelle and Beethoven Fests – Beauty of Bonn City

The city of Bonn offers many cultural events all the year round. It is worth mentioning two important events this Fall, ‘Klangwelle’ (Wave of Sound) and the Beethoven Festival.

I moved to Bonn exactly a year ago. While moving I had several fears in mind of integrating in a former federal capital of Germany.However it took me no time to adjust myself in this multicultural city. One thing I was concerned about was entertainment opportunities in this small city. But, wow, thankfully I am pretty happy to explore various colorful activities.

The Klangwelle fest is held for the ninth time this year. It consists of a live musical water show arranged in the middle of the city center. The area is covered with coffee shops, bars, and various restaurants. However a striking feature is a big statue of Ludwig van Beethoven. This year theme was “Element in Emotion.” It had the most beautiful classical melodies, catchy rock and pop songs,with videos shown on a water screen. The show is open every day from 8 to 10 p.m. clock, will continue for two weeks. Here is the video of the show i recorded. 

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Born in 1770. Each fall the festival the city honors him with a program that reflects the composer’s revolutionary approach to music. “Metamorphoses” is the motto of the Beethovenfest Bonn in 2013. This year the festival features some changes like leaving Beethoven’s music off of the programs at both the opening and closing concerts.

Cricket – A Game of Noble People!

Cricket is a game of noble people from England at the end of 18th century. It exemplifies athletic passion and dedication. Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on a roughly circular field, at the center of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. Cricket is quite a popular game in different parts of the world, growing in Germany too.

During my stint at Universität Hamburg, I organized “Introduction to Cricket” event with the collaboration of PIASTA (International Program for All Students and Alumni). The aim of the event was to introduce Cricket playing facilities in Hamburg. It was planned that the participants from different cultures and backgrounds get together and have some fun during the cricket session.

Hamburg, 27.04.2013. Introduction to Cricket at HSV Sports Ground, organized by PIASTA, Uni Hamburg.

Hamburg, 27.04.2013. Introduction to Cricket at HSV Sports Ground, organized by International Office (PIASTA), Universität Hamburg.

The event scheduled on Saturday, 27th April, 2013. As the meeting point at U2-Mümmelmannserg at 14.45, we met with the participants and welcomed them on behalf of PIASTA. We had a 5-minute walk towards the HSV Cricket sports ground. We reached there around 15.00. The participants were introduced with the trainer. The weather conditions were quite suitable to play. 

The participants were brought to the HSV sports ground and started with the training. The trainer, Faraz, explained as it was the bat-and-ball game. In start, we had basic ball catching practice exercises after warm-up. Everybody there took great interest in different

ball-catching and ball-throwing exercises followed by the run-scoring (running between the two ends of the pitch) skills. In the end, the participants were briefed about different “batting skills” and to properly wearing the equipment for personal safety. The participants wore “batting gloves”, “pads” (to cover legs) and “helmet” (for the safety of head). Then they were briefed about different batting techniques on controlling the ball with its pace.

Most of the participants had no idea about Cricket game before. They were amazed to get introduced and were quite happy to practice by themselves. It was a healthy activity with lots of entertainment and to know about different cultures also. The participants expressed their great interest in the session. They actively took part in the learning activities.

The training session came to an end around 18.00 hours. The Manager of HSV Cricket Club, Khalid Khawaja Rauf, and Captain of HSV2 Cricket team, Bilal Khokhar,  were present at the moment and expressed their full support if the participants would be interested to join the club. The event wouldn’t have been successful without the great support of HSV Cricket Club in general and Khalid (Bhai!) in particular.

Then we all proceeded to a nice nearby restaurant. All the participants had enjoyed their favorite meal with a nice discussion on different topics.

The feedback from the participants was so overwhelming for not only us but for the HSV Cricket Club organizers as well. The participants thanked PIASTA for organizing such a unique and interesting activity. They also praised the efforts of arranging a nice meal in the restaurant. In the end, the participants happily went back to their homes with nice memories.

Bonn – Istanbul – Ankara – Bonn

“Am I eligible to participate in a congress?”, was my first E-mail to the organizers in October last year whether I could participate in the congress. It was a ‘Call of Papers’ for undergraduate students to submit their research work under the congress title, “Youth, Media and their Future” at Maltepe University in Istanbul from 27-29 March, 2013.

I received a reply to submit my abstract. After couple of days, got to know that it was only for undergraduate students who could submit their work. Ah! I had to accept it with no choice. Then months later in the February this year, the organizers had a swift change in their organization and now it was the open call for graduate students as well. So, as I was already writing my term paper and in the final phase of the paper, thought of sending my abstract. Luckily, it got accepted and I was offered a place as presenter in the congress.

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On March 27, 2013, I flown to Istanbul from Düsseldorf Airport. I reached to the airport in the evening. It took me around couple of hours to complete all the immigration formalities and rushed outside the airport because the staff members were waiting for me. The weather was so cool, bit rainy, reached to Marma Congress Center in approx. 30-minute drive. There I met with the speakers and the organizing staff. I had a nice Turkish dinner followed by a watch to nice traditional Turkish movie in the mini-cinema hall inside the congress center.

The next day was full of presentations, the conference hall was full of students and guests. The Vice-President of the University gave welcome speeh followed by the introductory presentation by Asst. Prof. Dr. Salvatore Scifo. I anxiously waited for my turn. And them, at last, at 4 p.m. I appeard on dice and started my presentation with some Turkish words. It was a great moment I enjoyed much. The hall filled with sound of clapping, whistling, and it was an interesting situation. The title of my presentation was “Social Media as Tool for Journalists and Ethics of Journalism”. After the speech I had a nice Q&A session I tried my best to deal with the questions.

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The next day was scheduled for an excursion trip. We all gathered after the breakfast and started our journey from the Asian side of Istanbul to the European side. The guys had fun in the bus by singing and dancing on Turkish songs. We went straight ahead to the city centre. We were split into three different groups.

The first one went to the Grand Bazaar StreeIt was Friday, second went to the famous Istiklal square and the third we, in which I was in the group, preferred to stay at Sultanahmet (Blue mosque), where we did perform the Friday (Jumma) prayer and then sat on the benches outside the mosque to have some sun bath. After couple of hours we then gathered and went straight to the nearby restaurant to grab our lunch. We did enjoy the famous dish, “Köfte” and then started going back to our accommodation place. At night, we had a ‘gala dinner’. It was so fun there. I will keep those beautiful memories in my memoir in the days to come. We danced, sang, did karaoke, all in all, was a complete fun night.

March 29, was the final day for many of us to go back to our home. I took maximum benefit of that tour, thought of better visiting Anakara to see my frie ds. In the of 30th March, I started 6-hour long bus journey for Ankara. It was one of the best bus tours I had in my life. I was amazed by the facilities provided by the Ulusoy transport company with Wi-fi connectivity, 12 TV channel, and last but not the least, a hot traditional Turkish ‘Chaey’. I will simply say, super!

I stayed in Ankara for couple of days, visited different touristic attractions. I had a chance to visit Turkish Radio Television Corporation headquarters and met with senior officials from Voice of Turkey Radio. It was my third visit to Turkey. I must appreciate the nice hospitality given by my Turkish hosts. It will remain in my memoirs in the the years to come.

Cricket as 2nd Wife!

Imran Mehr and AHM Abdul Hai

Nadeem Abbasi, 41, originally from Pakistan. He is an accountant by profession and settled in Germany now. He extensively learned the German language and integrated well in the German culture. He is now happily married and a father of two.

When a child opens his eyes in Pakistan he sees Cricket is being played everywhere. He simply becomes passionate about Cricket. Abbasi played Cricket long time in Pakistan, at school level, college level, University level, and for club level also. He says, “I’ve started playing Cricket from my childhood, I don’t know exactly, but I think at the age of 4 or 5. In Pakistan you know everyone play Cricket, he should play from his childhood, you can say. In Pakistan among Cricket and Hockey sports Cricket is a quite popular game. So I was interested in Cricket I don’t know why but I started playing it”.

He recalled his cricket memories, “If you ask me, my favorite bowler was Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz, and bowling action was Sikander Bakht. So it’s inspired me. In Pakistan we say,  Cricket is our second wife!“.

Playing Cricket in Bonn

Abbasi is captain and coach of the Golden Star CC team in Bonn. Having lived in Germany for sixteen years, he faced many challenges to start playing Cricket in Bonn. In his earlier days of arrival he asked people about Cricket and surprised to hear that nobody knew about it. Suddenly in 2003, he saw some people in Rheinaue Park playing Cricket. “I just started to play with them. And after two three years I felt that I couldn’t understand their language as they belonged to Sri Lanka. I didn’t understand anything. Then I met some Pakistani students here. So I started to plan our own club. We have just made our club and play Cricket now”.

After having a tough job routine it is difficult for some people to get extra time for sporting activities but not for Abbasi. He makes an equal distribution of his free time with family and Cricket.

Establishing a Cricket Club

Playing cricket in a club is different rather managing it. If you play for a club, you simply play, you do not have to do other things. You can go anytime to play cricket. But when you have your own club, you have got more responsibilities. He said, “Sometimes my involvement for my club starts from Friday evening to manage the match, to call the people to check if they have free time, to send emails and doing other stuff.”

At the beginning the achievement of the club was very good. But they never stood on victory stand. “But two times we played semi-final and we lost in one final. Last two years we were in number 5 in NRW”, he added.

“To get the cricket play ground was not very difficult. Because at that time I was member of NRW cricket junior when I formed NRW cricket council. So I am the founder member also. So we got some fund from NCB and some from ICC. The pitch in our play ground is given from England and its expense was paid by DCB. After that we manage ourselves for the matches, match fees, umpire fees, balls etc. But other costs for ground preparation are paid from Bonn city” he further said.

The cricket in Germany is getting well and now it is being taught from the school level. For promoting Cricket in Germany last year International Cricket Council had given more than 200,000 Euros.

What awoke my passion was my thirst for knowledge!

Global Impressions @ DW

A short profile on radio listening pulished on DW web page.

Already as a child Imran from Pakistan was enthusiastic about foreign radio broadcasts and so he went on to turn his passion into his profession.

During my childhood I developed the hobby of listening to foreign media broadcasts on the radio. I was a regular listener of both Deutsche Welle’s Urdu and English language broadcasts.

Back then I only had my father’s old radio that was unable to receive shortwave frequencies from inside our house. So I stood on the roof of our house for hours to listen to international radio broadcasts.

As I grew up I realized that what awoke my passion was my thirst for knowledge, an urge to connect with the world and to see beyond the end of my nose.

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In 2009, I acquired my M.A. degree in Media Studies in Pakistan. While studying, I worked as a news reporter at my university’s radio station.

It was through DW broadcasts that I developed the greatest desire to obtain a higher education in Germany.

After coming to Germany I tried to avail every possible opportunity to enhance my skills as a journalist. I participated in conventions and conferences, produced a radio program and realized the importance of social media in the modern world. This established my interest in blogging and so I started maintaining a blog about the political situation in Pakistan.

Gingerbread on Christmas eve

By Sandra Sebastian and Imran Mehr

Our student media project on Christmas eve! We had been to Weihnachtsmarkt Bonn (christmas market) and asked the retailers and visitors about their viewpoints on ‘gingerbread’ in Christmas. It was quite interesting to know a bit of the history and some interesting information. So, one little bit or two of a gingerbread would add some good mood on your special celebration !!!!

Study Tour to Berlin !!

The day approached for which we were waiting anxiously for last 2 months to start a 4-day excursion trip to Berlin. My fellows and I were  so excited that many of us started to plan weeks before the travel. I was also looking forward to an exciting tour to observe the beauty, liveliness and history of the city.

I had prepared all my stuff a day earlier ahead of  travel. We almost 26 fellows with our group coordinator gathered at quarter to seven in morning, though it was quite cold but we all did mange to reach at Bonn ‘Hauptbahnhof’ (called in German a main railway station) in time. We took the ICE train for Berlin and reached there in 4 hours time. I really did enjoy the multilingual environment inside the train, as we all are from different backgrounds and speak different continental languages, many of the guys choose the same language partners  and framed small groups for chit chat. It was quite funny to listen all the lnguages like Spanish, Persian, German, Arabic, Portuguese, English and Urdu at the same time. I had a nice conversation with couple of fellows sitting in front of me and got to know much about the Arabic and Latin cultures in general and their lifestyle in particular.

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We reached to Berlin Hauptbahnhof around noon and headed towards our hotel nearby Alexander Platz train station. We took our room keys and most of us went for a little nap to get relaxed and prepare for an excursion tour. We were told to be in the lobby around 3 p.m. to go in a group for guided tour. The cozy bus with a punctual-cum-strict tour guide awaited us to be on board and start the guided tour on time 🙂 Anyhow, it was good to start with listening a bit about history of German capital by sitting on relaxed seats and had a nice view to see the sunny Berlin’s attractions outside the windows. We had been to historic places by having a stop-over on various locations to take pictures and had a chance for some walk.

In evening, I had to left the remaining part of bus tour and stepped out at Potsdamer Platz because of participating in Human Rights Award 2012 ceremony in Friedrich-Ebert-???????????????????????????????Stiftung (FES) headquarter. There was a panel discussion regarding challenges for Pakistani journalists in war affected areas. For this, a Pakistani Journalist, Mr. Safdar Hussain Dawar, received FES Human Rights Award of the year 2012 on behalf of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) Union of Journalists (FUJ). That was quite a beautiful evening ended with plentiful knowledge on media situation in Pakistan followed by a classical muical performances by Ustad Karim Khan. The sitar performance was highly lauded by the audience.

We had visited the Parliamentary exhibition  “Wege, Irrwege, Umwege” at the Cathedral of Germany. There we were divided into two different groups and had the guided tours about the old and modern history of Germany, respectively. It was quite interesting to learn about the old proposed maps and the constitutional amendmends. I wouldn’t forget to mention that our programme Director, Prof. Dr. Christoph Schmidt also accompanied us since morning and gave us a nice “coffee-treat” at nearby restaurant. Afterwards, we headed towards Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the representatives gave us a thorough insight on the working efficiency of Foreign Affairs throughout the globe. We also enjoyed the 15-minute video documentary in the end.

In the evening, we proceeded towards the Deutsche Welle TV headquarter and met there with senior editorial staff who possess several years of journalistic experience and shared their journalistic experiences with us. They also briefed us the various sections of TV and its transmission areas. We were told us that inside the building there was a

Bundespressekonferenz (BPK; Federal Press Conference) section in the house which is generally a press club, where either the ministers or their speakers are invited 3 to 4

Meeting with senior editors of DW-TV

Meeting with senior editors of DW-TV

times a week and answer the questions being asked by the journalists. It was quite amazing to know that the BPK is the unique and only press club in the world where the ministers are being invited as guests and they are supposed to provide some information to journalists. This was the case when first time in the history the press correspondents of parliaments raised questions on how to obtain quick information, the BPK was formed in 1949 in that result.

One of the senior editor reflected that the great number of journalists had been raised to large number since last 15 years. In responce to question if the lives of German journalists had been changed in recent years due to social media change, the answer was the significant change has been seen in last 8 to 10 yeas, e.g. in former capital, Bonn, only the major press conferences were given importance by the media but in present situation, in Berlin, the normal press conferences, party aonferences, rumors etc. are broadcasted in real time and immediately disseminated through mobile phones, laptops, etc. But the high speed of serious journalistic work is too heavy to deal with.

We really had an interesting day to visit the Pergamon museum and German Parliament, respectively. Inside museum, we had a  deep insight on ancient histories of different civilizations and took as many photographs as I could. We also had observed the ancient Islamic monuments and got to learn about our history.

In the last part of the tour, we had been to German Bundestag (Parliament) and had a guided tour followed by roof-top visit of the parliament. The experience of singing a bollywood song with my Moroccon colleague on the top-roof of the Parliament was quite marvellous. Next day, we had a little city walks in groups and sat-off for Bonn in the afternoon and reached to Bonn in the late evening. The interesting memories will remain in my memoirs in the years to come!