This month I am proud to present our newest RGI grantee: the Republic of Urbana project started by the Munich based SchlaU-Schule for unaccompanied refugees from all over the world, especially Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq and Syria.
This innovative refugee education project was founded in 2000 by Michael Stenger, Ashoka Fellow 2009, and today serves as a community hub and school for around 300 young refugees in Munich. SchlaU offers a unique program which allows these students first-time access to the Bavarian mainstream vocational training system, upon graduation..
With a graduation rate of consistently over 95 percent, SchlaU-Schule is one of Germany’s most successful integration projects and has already reaped multiple awards and received significant from the city of Munich andboth Kurt und Maria Dohle Stiftung as well as Salesforce.org.
At Schlau Schule, students not only attend modular classes and read tailored textbooks, but are also offered extensive psychological support and a wide range of extracurricular activities, including a chess club, a school band, and, from 2018 on, participation in the Republic of Urbana culture project.
This unique in-school workshop, conceived and delivered by InterACT English gGmbH (www.interactenglish.de.en) is an in-depth exploration of culture, both the host culture in Germany, the original culture of the land from which they came and the emerging culture of this new community. Together, playfully, over a period of several weeks, participants re-invent artefacts, rituals and stories of a lost hypothetical “Urbana” culture, to be presented playfully to a German audience.
Some elements of this new culture are:
Dance: not so much choreography but rather music and presence
Film: Improvisation and teambuilding
Arts: sculpture, animation and collage
Music: composing, improvisation
Traditions: sports, cooking, student-directed activities
This is “appreciative pedagogy” at its finest. Going beyond cognitive learning, participants no longer see themselves as victims and sufferers but as fully vested community members fully engaged in play. And they learn German along the way!