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News Archives 2007

December 17, 2007

The European College of Liberal Arts invites you to join us on our campus. You will have the opportunity to sit in classes, see the campus, have lunch with the students, and meet faculty and staff. Moreover you will have the chance to gather information on our programs and ask questions concerning application procedures, the school and further topics of interest to you.

The next Open Doors will be on:
January 14, 2008
March 3, 2008

Please send a short registration email to Fiona Schnüttgen:  

SEMINAR ON EDUCATION: Kristin Voigt - 'Individual Choice and Unequal Participation in Higher Education'
December 10, 2007
By Livia Marinescu (2008, Romania)

On 21 November 2007, Kristin Voigt, assistant professor, European College of Liberal Arts, held a seminar based on her article, 'Individual Choice and Unequal Participation in Higher Education'. The presentation of the article was followed by a discussion that gathered students and professors of ECLA. 

'Individual Choice and Unequal Participation in Higher Education' considers the under-representation of students in the higher education sector. The approach used in the research is 'luck egalitarianism', a theory of social justice that distinguishes between outcomes which are a result of luck and those that arise from the individual's choices.

Relying on a specific understanding of luck egalitarian theory, Voigt sets out to prove how, in higher education, the issue of individual choice is complex and that the individual cannot be held responsible for certain choices and, thus, be placed within a certain distribution scheme.

The research context is the higher education sector in UK, with reference to students or potential students coming from two social backgrounds: the working class and the middle class. Using sociological data and research Voigt outlines those elements of meaningful individual choice and finds that the socio-economic background has significant effects on the options available to young people. Research findings further show that the perception of outcomes and their values are distorted by social class stereotypes, which impacts upon a student's decision to apply to university.

The seminar discussion focused on two issues:  first, the method of drawing a real distinction between choice and luck and, secondly, what theory of good is related to the justness of outcomes of education. Voigt's article finds that the most sought-for outcome of higher education is improved opportunities in the job market, implying a theory of good that holds income as its object.

Throughout the seminar, participants argued that higher education should seek to accomplish goals other than high income. At the close of the discussion participants agreed that, whatever theory of good would replace that of earnings, social injustice is still present. Voigt suggested that sociological research on this subject could be specific and measurable only by considering material welfare as the outcome of education. A second point raised in the discussion was that of social mobility as a potential solution to the unequal distribution of chances to higher education. The seminar generated issues for a future discussion, namely social policy development and the extent to which the state should point at injustices as such and find methods of compensation. Complementing the ECLA core course theme (education), the seminar reinforced the importance of reflection upon educational issues.

Kristin Voigt is currently completing a PhD in political theory at the University of Oxford. She has taught courses on contemporary politics and on the history of political thought. The article 'Individual Choice and Unequal Participation in Higher Education' was published in the journal Theory and Research in Education and can be accessed online at:

PREVIEW: 'Social Entrepreneurship: Survival and Solidarity in a Globalized World'
December 6, 2007
By Martin Lipman (2008, Netherlands)

In May 2007, ECLA held its annual 'State of the World Week' on the theme of 'social entrepreneurship'. Social Entrepreneurship is a term used to describe financially self-sustaining initiatives that attempt to fill an unmet social need. The event was a great success, producing a number of viable student projects, winning a UNESCO award for education in sustainable development, and attracting interest in the possibility of publishing the proceedings. In order to build on the discussions which took place, faculty coordinators Catherine Toal and Rafael Ziegler organized a social entrepreneurship elective for autumn term, 2007. The elective is partly based on contributions to a collection of essays they are editing which developed from the State of the World Week, entitled Social Entrepreneurship: Survival and Solidarity in a Globalized World.

In contrast to existing studies in this field, which are generally management-oriented in focus, the book is targeted at a liberal arts audience, and accordingly seeks to bring alternative voices and perspectives to the topic. The methods and assumptions of the social entrepreneur are considered together with the merits of his or her non-specialized skills, which are transferable to both the business and the social spheres. The book also addresses the significance of social entrepreneurship in an increasingly globalized society. Issues considered includethe flexibilization of work and changes in the possibility of civic engagement.

The current course on social entrepreneurship at ECLA has a double function: it introduces to liberal arts students the possibility not only of integrating employment in the business world and active social engagement, but also of being the kind of scholar who can work across different fields. The syllabus is connected with the formational process of the book, as the second half of the course is reserved for the book's contributors to present their papers in class. Students comment on these papers and participate in a forum that is intended to shape the editorial process.

Contributors whose work is featured in Social Entrepreneurship: Survival and Solidarity in a Globalized World include: Nir Tsuk (Ashoka), 'A Brave New World? Social Entrepreneurship and the State';Krzysztof Stanowski (Foundation Education for Democracy), 'Dissident, Democrat, "Social Entrepreneur"? A Biographical Sketch'; Paola Grenier (London School of Economics), 'The Idea of Social Entrepreneurship: Slogans and Stories'; Johanna Mair and Christian Seelos (IESE Business School, Spain), 'Social Entrepreneurship: Innovative Approaches to Sustainable Development'; Rob Boddice (European College of Liberal Arts), 'Forgotten Antecedents: Entrepreneurship, Ideology and History'; and Daniel Hjorth (Copenhagen Business School), 'Citizens and Consumers: On Entrepreneurialising the Social'. The book features perspectives that range from the practical to the political aspects of social entrepreneurship and its historical and cultural contexts.

ECLA GUEST LECTURE: Dr. Klaus Corcilius on 'instrumentalization of virtue' in Plato's Republic
November 23, 2007
By Livia Marinescu (2008, Romania)

On 12 November 2007 Dr. Klaus Corcilius of Humboldt University presented a guest lecture on Plato's Republic and the 'instrumentalization of virtue' at the European College of Liberal Arts (ECLA).

Instrumentalization is, simply put, to use a thing with an intrinsic end for a purpose extrinsic to itself (the example, for clarity, of using a saw to open a bottle, gave way to a complex discussion of virtue ethics in the Republic). Focusing on book six, Dr. Corcilius' lecture investigated the instrumentalization of virtue in Platonic ethics and compared the definitions of virtue in books one and four with book six, exploring possible inconsistencies in Socrates' argumentation. He offered an explanation for Socrates' surprising assertion that, given the wrong context, the virtues can be destructive of themselves, or can be corrupted.

This speculative approach to 'what Socrates meant' concluded with a consideration of Plato's ethical philosophy in the light of an Aristotelian critique. Dr. Corcilius left open for consideration whether virtues, being intrinsically good, may contain anything within themselves to preclude their own misuse. The lecture gave way to a stimulating discussion on the tension between the virtue of truth and the necessity to lie; the relationship of knowledge to the good; and the important distinction between being and acting.

Dr. Klaus Corcilius is Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter at Humboldt University in Berlin.  His current research interests focus on Aristotle and the Aristotelian tradition.  Dr. Corcilius recently published Beiträge zur Aristotelischen Handlungstheorie (Philosophie der Antike Band 24), co-edited with Professor Christof Rapp, who visited ECLA as a guest lecturer in December 2006.  Dr. Corcilius has translated Aristotle's On the Soul and The Movement of Animals.

November 23, 2007
By Martin Lipman (2008, Netherlands)

October 2007 - European College of Liberal Arts, Berlin, and the start of a new term, a new year and a new experience, as students gather from all over the world to start a one-year programme of intensive study.

Although ECLA is a young and growing institution, it is clear that other students have gone before and a humble body of traditions have formed.  The most personal expressions are found on the red walls of the 'party' room, covered with the marks of students who have gone before, echoing nights spent free from books and thoughts inspired by those books. Following the success of previous years, a dinner to mark the opening of the new academic year and a trip to the Harz Mountains gave faculty and students the opportunity to meet outside the academic environment.  Back in Berlin, an introductory lecture on the meaning of 'liberal arts' established the academic tone, and a city walk offered a taste of the rich cultural heritage of the German capital. 

For all the traces of the past, ECLA is infused with dynamism.  There is a sense of being a part of something new and 'different'.  Particularly new (as compared with last year) is the opportunity to choose two elective courses (instead of one). Vitality characterizes ECLA.  Professors and seminar leaders teach with vigorous and infectious enthusiasm and students dash from a lecture on Plato to one on conceptual art and thereafter to Kierkegaard, or to a class in acting and directing.  Connections are made and ideas formed.  This is the ground on which we who make up the class of 2008 can start to claim our identity.  Yes, we are part of an ongoing development, but we are also a distinct group of students within this process.  We too hope to leave our mark.

COMMENCEMENT ISU 2007: So Long, I'll be Movin' On
August 31, 2007
By Catalina Iorga (ISU 2007, Romania)

The last week of the Summer University at ECLA was dedicated to roundtable discussions which provided an effective concluding section of the programme by presenting case studies and in depth theoretical analyses on the following topics: "Terrorism and State", "Terrorism and Religion", and "Terrorism and Ethnicity". Led by David Durst, Theodor Paleologu, and Bartholomew Ryan, respectively, the three discussion panels allowed students to discuss issues such as the impact of the mass media on the average citizen of a country fighting the war on terror, the crusades as the origin of religious terrorism, or if the Provisional IRA's cause was justified or not. It was also an excellent end to a fascinating course as it provided everyone with the opportunity to join the discussion that most appealed to them, and speak their mind on contemporary issues that they found particularly relevant to the topic.

Perhaps the most anticipated event of the week was the Closing Celebration which was held on Friday, the 24th of August. After a warm welcome address and best wishes for our future endeavours from Laurent Boetsch (General Manager of ECLA), it was David Durst's turn to acknowledge the extensive efforts of faculty, staff and students alike, and to award special diplomas, most of them referencing characters from the ISU's main text, Dostoevsky's Demons. Laughter predictably ensued as both professors and students were given awards such as the Stavrogin Award for Seduction (Bartholomew Ryan), the Lyamshin Award for Photography (Gabriel Boc, Romania), or the Pyotr Verkhovensky Award for Supreme Agitator (Bas Voorwinde, Netherlands). After this, our very own soon-to-be-ridiculously-famous opera singers, Julia Klotz (Germany) and Olena Androsiuk (Ukraine) thrilled the audience with their playful rendition of Despina's aria from "Cosi fan tutte" by Mozart (Julia) and powerful performance of "Cavatina" from "Anna Bolena" by Donizetti (Olena).

Then it was time to receive the final recognition for six weeks of hard work - the graduation certificates. As each of us went up to collect much more than a piece of paper - applause, enthusiasm and encouragement followed, but the realisation that a beautiful time was coming to an end began to sink in. The ISU choir put a smile on everyone's faces by musically claiming that "ECLA is a wonderful place". We all could not agree more.

One of the things I constantly heard during the last few days at ECLA was "I hate goodbyes". For most of us, it is difficult to deal with the letting go and moving on. But why does such a feeling emerge? Is it because we grow so attached to our environment that we think of it as home? Is it because of the friends we make along the way and who we will miss terribly? Or is it because we find ourselves in a comfort zone where our educational and personal needs are satisfied to such an astonishing extent? Another series of questions inevitably arises: Could our lives become permanent versions of the International Summer University? Is it possible to transform our existences into eternal recurrences of those six weeks? The answer to the latter is "No". What we experience here is merely a drop in the ocean, a taste of what we can achieve, a glimpse into a kaleidoscope of possibilities. We cannot be "heroes, forever and ever", even though David Bowie might want to argue differently. But during six weeks we ruled over Pankow, Berlin, and, most importantly, ourselves. The best is yet to come.

August 21, 2007
By Catalina Iorga (ISU 2007, Romania)

4:45 PM "Yes! There is no one in the kitchen. Let's get started!"

5:00 PM "Um, guys, where can I put this plate? Is there any room left?"

5:15 PM "We need more dough"

5:45 PM "We have more dough!"

6:00 PM "Could you pass me the fork?
                Where's the big knife? 
                Cut the garlic into smaller
                pieces if you can.
                Can I borrow some butter? 
                That looks yummy!
                I need a large spoon.
                It's getting late…"

6:30 PM "We're almost done…Almost"

7:00 PM "That soup is fantastic!
                Great pizza, roomie.
                The cranberry jam goes with the blood sausages,
                not with the garlic bread.
                Have you tasted the chocolate chip cookies?
                Pancake time!
                I feel so full…"

The international dinner in a nutshell: cooking frenzy, heaps of fun, great teamwork, unbelievable mess, pleasant conversations, excellent food.

Question: What is the best thing one can do after such a great meal?

Answer: Read some poetry, obviously!

Said and done. Students and professors gathered in a circle lit by small torches which created a very intimate and friendly atmosphere. Poems about love, death, dogs, stars, pipes, prison, or storms were recited in a variety of languages (German, Turkish, Hungarian, Romanian, Albanian, French, Macedonian, Spanish or Gaelic) and accompanied by their English translations when it was necessary. The cold was quickly forgotten as people found themselves either laughing hysterically, shedding a hidden tear, gazing in awe, nodding approvingly, or drifting away in remembrance.

There is something special about a poem in its original language: it manages to evoke feelings and emotions that a translation, no matter how rich and carefully done, fails to capture. When listening to such poetry, the meaning becomes secondary to the reader's ability to infuse life into the words and the audience's willingness to go past lingual barriers by creating a mental image and a deeply personal interpretation of what is being said.

22:00 PM: "So, who wants to read another one? 
                    She's really talented, isn't she?
                    I wish I could do this, but I'm too nervous…
                    Um, I could also sing this one!
                    I think I found one more… 
                    ~heartfelt applause~

Question: What do you get when you mix food with poetry?

Answer: Soul food.

Installation by Menashe Kadishman called "Fallen Leaves"

August 16, 2007
By Catalina Iorga (ISU 2007, Romania)

Getting to the Jewish Museum was not an easy task despite the apparent simplicity of the process - get on the M1, then switch to U6, and then walk for ten minutes. But what happens if it starts raining? You take out an umbrella, of course. Or you put on the raincoat you cautiously brought with you. Or you could just sit under the sheltering glass of the Oranienburgerstrasse tram stop wondering if a flood of biblical dimensions is about to occur. Yes, it rained that heavily. After much hesitation and debate a brave decision was made and students sprinted through the mighty drops to reach the metro. Ten seconds were sufficient to soak up the majority of them.

A mini-adventure preceded a proper one which consisted of making your way through the mazy, narrow corridors of the museum, an original and thought-provoking architectural construct. Most buildings of this kind are designed simply to house various works of art; the Jewish Museum is itself a work of modern art, a thunderbolt-shaped metallic structure that is both spectacular and depressing. To begin your visit you must first go underground and then climb the stairs that lead to the permanent exhibition - perhaps a metaphor for human struggle and oppression: one must fall into the abyss of despair and then rise above pain and suffering.

The underground section consists of three axes. Firstly, the Axis of Exile is marked by the Garden of Exile, a place that bares a striking resemblance to the fairly recent "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe". Then, the Axis of Death culminates in the impressive Holocaust Tower. Last but not least, the Axis of Continuity hosts a wide range of personal belongings (from a sewing machine to soap, from postcards to toys) that tell the tragic or life-affirming stories of their owners. However, what truly strikes a chord is the Holocaust Tower, a 5-sided empty room with a single neon and a ladder that cannot be reached. As you sit in one of the corners and look at others gently leaning their heads against the wall, you realize the impact this room can have on people.

Once the visit to the lower part has been completed, there is no further way to go but up. The Memory Void is the final stop before the permanent exhibition. Yet this void has been filled with an installation by Menashe Kadishman called "Fallen Leaves". As you walk on the "leaves", which are actually representations of agonizing human faces of all ages, a sickening sound starts to develop. We all walk differently - some cautiously and painfully, others decidedly, and some even barefoot, but the blend of our manners creates an atmosphere of terror and destruction under the scrutinizing eyes of visitors looking from small windows placed at a considerable height. It is in such moments of metallic rustling and deep meditation that you realize that there are times in history when people should refrain from walking, especially from trampling the lives of others.

To recover from the effect of Kadishman's installation is a time consuming effort. Once you start making your way through over two millennia of German Jewish history, you inevitably meet other students and exchange opinions about the Memory Void. But then, you carry on through an incredibly rich, highly interactive account of the Jewish accomplishments: successful merchants and businesspeople, religious innovators, resolute working mothers, well known artists, writers and philosophers. From Moses Mendelssohn, who has been dubbed the "German Socrates" to Levis Strauss and his now famous jeans, from the traditions of a Jewish wedding to the homework of gifted youngsters - the portrayal is extremely positive.

But that is not the essential inquiry here. What really matters is what you take with you once you have stepped out of the museum. The only words that come close to accurately describing the main feelings are raised awareness, a broader understanding and many, many mysteries to ponder upon. One of most important ones is if it does truly does justice to the Jewish culture: this answer is not in our possession.

Visiting the House of the Wannsee Conference

August 7, 2007
By Catalina Iorga (ISU 2007, Romania)

A beautiful Sunday provided the perfect backdrop for a trip to idyllic Wannsee, a place in southwest Berlin well known for its lovely inland beach - one of the longest in Europe. Wannsee is also famous for hosting the conference of the same name on the 20th of January, 1942. Most of us have learned about this event in our contemporary history courses - decisions regarding "the final solution to the Jewish question" were made by fifteen top figures of the SS, NSDAP, and several ministries. Most of us know that a villa in Wannsee was the site of a terrible plan - the deportation and murder of 11 million Jews, but we hadn't had the chance to see what it feels like to be inside the villa.

Now a memorial and educational house, it allowed both students and professors to catch a glimpse of the historical tensions that culminated in the conference. Fifteen rooms chronologically showcased the evolution of the phenomenon - from racism and anti-semitism to labour and death in concentration camps. Both informative and captivating, the exhibition successfully managed to avoid turning into an overly emotional account. Facts, documents, photographs, biographies, testimonies were sufficient for provoking the desired effect: meditation and inquisitiveness.

The most touching part was the very last: how do people deal with the aftermath of these horrendous times? The son of a labour camp survivor was forever left with a stammer after his father almost choked to death while eating in the same way he did in the camp - anxiously swallowing large pieces of bread. Another man could not talk to his friends about his traumatizing experience - people did not speak about it, even though they went through similar struggles. And others actively engaged in educating the next generations about the dangers of extremism and the importance of learning from the past.

After such an insightful look into a dark section of human history, students split up into smaller groups. Some chose to see Kleist and Vogel's infamous graves and the Liebermann Villa, others took advantage of the marvelous weather and took a boat trip, while others took refuge in the shadow of tall trees. An impromptu music session, people completely immersed in reading, children happily chasing each other, friends chatting cheerfully over a cold beer, tired visitors dozing off in the comforting breeze - the perfect end to a special day.

Wannsee is a place of contrasts, capable of inducing sadness as well as joy. Much like life itself, it is a setting that fosters remembrance and contemplation, but also hope and happiness. It is the physical expression of forever being stuck in a moment between past and future: reluctant to let go, yet enthusiastic about things to come.

Interpreting the work of A. Kiefer 'Poppy and Memory' with Dr. Christian Weikop

'SCHMERZ' IN THE HAMBURGER BAHNHOF: "Art is the Image of the Human Being"...
July 30, 2007
By Catalina Iorga (ISU 2007, Romania)

...said Joseph Beuys. If this statement is applied to Anselm Kiefer's works and the Schmerz exhibition, then the image of the human being is one of pain and desperation. That is the immediate conclusion that one can draw after Wednesday's visit to the Hamburger Bahnhof , Berlin's Museum for Contemporary Art.

But things are not as simple as they seem. After a brief historical introduction about the building itself, students made their way into the museum. The first item they laid their eyes upon was a biting stick used in operations without anesthesia. "Oh my God" was the exclamation expressing the state of shock that gripped some of us.

The shock wore off and a more rational, analytical discussion took place in the main hall as everyone was trying to make sense of the symbolism in the collages and lead sculptures by Kiefer. "It is impossible to write poetry after Auschwitz" (Theodor Adorno) is reflected in Kiefer's approach to visual arts: his work does not come across as a natural form of expression, but as a grueling process of juxtaposition, as a painful and thoughtful rendition of people's suffering. Slashes, stabs, sorrow, and solitude are key words of his art. Cremation and death, extermination and apocalypse also come to mind when examining, for instance, Hoffmann von Fallersleben auf Helgoland. Helgoland was the site of the greatest non-nuclear detonation in history, an event referred to as the "British Bang". A battered submarine, smoke and fire, wood barely hanging on and metal sticking out confirm the idea of annihilation.

Then, it was time for Schmerz. Suitably named sections - "Compassion", "Placebo", "Melancholia" or "Ecstasy" revealed distinct yet equally fascinating dimensions of pain. Manipulative statistics quantifying Christ's Passion in the enumeration of inflicted wounds, bear tugs or slaps. People's pity and empathy when faced with the tragedy of another. Harrowing images of operations where unconscious patients do not experience autonomous pain. Jars with brains, bones and guts as diseased elements that provoke suffering. Francis Bacon's triptych, a work of twisting, turning, convulsing, disintegrating bodies - his personal view on the Crucifixion. Nietzsche's death mask - pain immortalized in bronze.

Those were just a few of the exhibition's highlights. Perhaps the most interesting section was that which detailed the connection between pain and ecstasy, the former being a means of achieving the latter. Walking the thin line between pain and pleasure can have devastating consequences - death, among other things; in a quest for the most extreme of sensations, man abandons every notion of physical integrity and surrenders to his darkest desires. Also, pain signifies testing the limits of the human condition: the more pain one can tolerate, the closer one comes to victory. Clips of athletes confirmed this statement: boxers endure rounds after rounds of fists or runners hang on for the last meter of the ten thousand they must conquer. Therefore, pain appears as a necessary evil, as an unavoidable obstacle on the road to glory and excellence.

It is hard to word the feelings and thoughts that this exhibition triggers. For Bas Voorwinde (ISU 2007, Netherlands), Schmerz was "not grand, but more of a philosophical inquiry", not so much about art, but more about raising questions. On a more humorous note, Melinda Harvey, a member of the faculty, said that "It was fun to watch someone like David (Director of the ISU) playing the Pain Station". But mind you, he was not alone in this endeavour: people had a great time of inflicting electric shocks - of low tension, of course, on each other. Another essential aspect was also underlined by Melinda: most of the books we read for this programme deal with pleasure and pain so this exhibition shed new light on the texts and allowed people to get a broader picture.

"Art is not just there to be understood" said the same Joseph Beuys. Art is there to be felt and experienced to the fullest. Even if it is painful to do so.

July 23, 2007
By Catalina Iorga (ISU 2007, Romania)

"What's on for tonight?" "The "Scavenger Hunt!" "Is "scavenger" a German word?" "Ah, got it guys! Wiki says that "scavengers are animals that consume already dead animals" "OK, so we'll be predators…" "What are we looking for?" "No clue" ECLA students were given ten creative tasks and cameras. Needless to say, hilarity and a great time ensued. We were supposed to be split into groups according to the dorm in which we reside. But eventually two teams were formed: W15 and W16 joined forces with a few people from K24 while the more numerous K24 welcomed other students as well. Yes, we like to mix it up.

And so the great journey began. First, we enjoyed the German hospitality after a man had no problem in entrusting us with his dog so we could walk it for a while. Then, a stop at Gasthaus Majakowski where talent for poetry with a sprinkle of humor and a touch of theatricality were showcased. All on film, of course. Next, we made our way to a playground next to a "Children are the future" billboard and made our music video debut in a post-modern tribute to the fantastic game of basketball. "And I wonder if Dostoevsky will join at all/ Basketball, basketball, unite us all!" Wiser words were never spoken and we have Asaad to thank for it.

Some Asian menus containing crispy duck and spring rolls were collected along while making our way to the Romanian embassy where yours sincerely proudly sang the national anthem in front of a crowded restaurant and her embarrassment was washed away by compassionate applause. People of Berlin, I am most grateful. We also shamelessly twisted the rules of a public bathroom, explaining our ideas of "un-etiquette".

As we moved from task to task, teary-eyed from all that laughter and public humiliation and with the deadline in front of us, we rushed to the party room of K24 to shoot a scene from Dostoevsky's "Demons". Stavrogin's malicious snicker and overall nihilistic attitude were included in Besir's excellent performance as he "led" Gabriel by the nose.

The time had come to sit back and admire our oeuvres which would be judged by Alissa. Armed with ice cream and marshmallows, we rapturously applauded the efforts of the other team and marveled at everyone's artistic abilities. In the end we were all winners - an enthused Alissa forgot to keep track of gained points. But not because of this did we emerge victorious; we had an eventful day which allowed us to get to know each other a little bit better through creative collaboration and teamwork. And the day was sealed off with some extreme dancing at a "Soul Explosion" party near Alexanderplatz. Oh, it's good to be in Berlin…

ISU 2007: Demons at ECLA
July 18, 2007
By Alicja Weikop

On July 16th ECLA inaugurated the International Summer University 2007 with the opening lecture on Dostoyevsky's Demons given by one of ECLA's ISU faculty, Melinda Harvey.

This year's summer programme brings together 41 students from 21 countries and international scholars specializing in Russian literature (Frank Goodwin, University of Florida), continental philosophy (David Durst, AUBG and Bartholomew Ryan, Århus University), political thought (Theodor Paleologu, Ambassador of Romania to the Kingdom of Denmark and the Republic of Iceland), and film and literature (Melinda Harvey, University of Sydney). Over the six intensive weeks students will explore themes of nihilism and culture, cynicism, violence, terrorism and religion all arising from the reading of Dostoyevsky's Demons - the focal text of the course.

The academic schedule is complemented by a series of visits to Berlin's cultural institutions, such as the German Historical Museum and Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art, led by an art historian specializing in German Expressionism, Christian Weikop, from Sussex University.

ECLA will be also hosting several special guest lectures, which will be open to the public. The guest lecturers include Costica Bradatan, who taught at ECLA in the ISU 2006 (lecturing on Camus and Nechaev), Christina Gerhardt (on representations of terrorism in literature, art and film) and Fernando Reinares, Professor of Political Science and Security Studies at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos as well as Senior Analyst on International Terrorism at Elcano Royal Institute for International and Strategic Studies in Madrid (on global terrorism).

We wish all the students a stimulating and productive term both inside and outside of the classroom and a memorable summer in Berlin.

Participants of the trip: Hannes, Leah, Firuza, Nargiza, Mantha (ECLA Faculty) and Sheroz

June 21, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

Just a few days before the end of the academic year, ancient and incredibly hot Greece welcomed a small group of ECLA students. The trip was organized as a continuation of the elective course offered in winter term on Luxury in the Greek and Roman World: Self-identity and Self-indulgence. Although students had already been acquainted with the Greek culture through the texts covered during the core course of the fall term, the elective had quite a different focus. It examined various aspects of the notion of luxury starting with the representation of oneself in sculptures and images, to the use of space for building luxurious villas and public places. After the end of the course students followed up with small research projects, which culminated in the trip to Athens.

Mantha Zarmakoupi, the instructor of the elective and project supervisor, assisted students in writing the project proposal. With an academic background in architecture and classical archaeology, Mantha provided students with a lot of materaial concerning the architectural and archeological characteristics of the sites to be visited. Moreover, being from Athens herself, she became an excellent guide around the city's monuments.

On the second day of the trip, we visited three archeological sites outside of Athens: the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, the Sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron and the Temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous. Moving between the sites allowed us to explore the significance of strategic location, special features of the architectural construction, and the use of materials and forms for creating a floating effect. "It is one thing when you read about all these techniques and look at the pictures, but it's completely different and much more striking to see it in reality", said Firuza Ganieva (2007, Tajikistan). The day brought many discoveries and discussions about the ways Greeks would indulge in the cults of different gods.

The very next day we went up the Panathenaic Way to the Athenian Acropolis and Agora. Walking among the ruins that used to be the heart of Athenian democracy, one could not possibly fail to observe the greatness of the Greek history. Thousands of years old ruins stand just next to modern buildings and numerous shops and cafes. It seemed like two worlds found a way to peacefully coexist here.

A small presentation about the trip to Greece was part of the End of the Year Celebration programme. Participants of the project shared their experiences with the rest of the ECLA community, demonstrating the interdisciplinary approach to studies offered during the year.

ECLA's best kept secret - Yearbook 2007

June 12, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

"We can do it!" - became a secret motto for the yearbook team. The meetings of the team began in the previous term, but the real work on the publication started just a few weeks ago, when the layout, design and content of the album were planned. The ECLA Yearbook 2007 promises to be different from all the previous years. Instead of a standard book with pictures of people and basic information about them, this year every student is given a chance to creatively present himself/herself through a short story of anything that took place during this year. "This is the best way to see one's personality; one's thoughts and ideas are what one is about", said Anca Rujoiu (Academy Year 2007, Romania), one of the team members.

The work started with defining the format of individual student pages, where one can find basic information, some of the greatest pictures of him/her and the promised story. It took a while to get all the necessary information from the students. "Three more students are submitting their entries today", reported Firuza Ganieva (Academy Year 2007, Tajikistan) on the yearbook team meeting on Thursday. In the rush of working on the final papers and projects, many simply forgot to submit their pieces.

Besides the regular profile section, in Yearbook 2007 one will find stories and pictures about every student dorm along with information about the smells and sounds associated with ECLA. The ECLA Events section will show all major and minor events of the year. Of course this article does not disclose everything about the yearbook. Now one can only guess about it, catching Anca taking pictures of people in strange poses against a white background, and other team members conducting strange questionnaires. In the last weeks of study the team is busy with compiling all the information received. The next step will be formatting and designing the pages, and creating a draft for the publishing house.

The Yearbook project supervisors, Yvonne Turaj and Alissa Burmeister, are major advisors, editors, contributors and managers of the project. Together with Yvonne and Alissa the yearbook team of four will produce the long-awaited Yearbook 2007 which will be handed out on the day of the Graduation Ceremony - June 20th.

BERLIN, The City of ECLA
June 12, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

With the end of the year at ECLA there comes a time to ponder the meaning of our academic experience here. However, there is yet another side to the ECLA experience - Berlin and its culture. Some students speak of The Island of ECLA, ECLA-Land or The City of ECLA (referring to Plato's Republic). There are even ECLA flags outside of every building, as if our actual location in Berlin was irrelevant and we lived in a space separate from all others. Bearing this in mind, dare we ask:

Could ECLA exist without Berlin?


Art history lecturer Aya Soika spoke of her involvement in the Seeing Berlin programme, which introduces students to Berlin's exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year. "Berlin's museums have artworks that are part of a cultural canon. The cultural and artistic wealth of the city provides the ideal setting for discussions related to a wide range of issues; not only art historical but also philosophical and historical questions, relevant to ECLA's curriculum", she explained. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine our core course in Renaissance without the art collections of Berlin, a study of Greek Antiquity without the Pergamon Museum or understanding contemporary art without the variety of temporary and permanent collections throughout the city. In such a rich cultural setting one could spend a lifetime discovering all that Berlin has to offer, which is why Aya believes that what we experienced during the Seeing Berlin Programme is only a glimpse.

With some individual effort students were able to explore the city on their own, but also as a part of the German language classes. Dirk Deichfuss, our German teacher, sought to familiarise the students with Berlin's culture, which is inseparable from teaching the language. With this in mind, he takes his students to different landmarks in Berlin and nearby, "in an effort to integrate the city into the German class and the other way around". "Learning a language should come together with the culture, knowledge of cultural aspects, habits and traditions of the people who speak it as mother tongue", says Dirk. He feels it is only natural for him as a Berliner to show his students the unique aspects of his home city. "My impression is that many students enjoy the liberal atmosphere of Berlin and the diversity it offers, both historical and educational, as well as in terms of entertainment and leisure" he explains. With regard to the language, Dirk Deichfuss is most happy when students after only one year of German manage to speak it in their day to day activities. The goal of his lessons is to inspire "the joy of language study, especially considering that German is thought to be a difficult language". The success of his students in the Goethe Institute language tests, such as Zertifikat Deutsch and Zertifikat Mittelstufe, was proof that ECLA has "a great number of students, who are ambitious to learn German".

Nikki Gilbert (USA, Academy Year 2007) doubts that ECLA would be able to have the same kind of community life were it to be located somewhere else. "The bigger the city is - the more individualistic city life becomes, but Berlin is different". Jeff Marshall (USA, Academy Year 2007) also makes a distinction between Berlin and the district of Pankow, the latter being a quiet neighbourhood which allows for study and tranquil reflective thought. Jeff believes that it is apparent that German philosophy is relevant to living in Germany and the other way around. "Having ECLA in Germany creates an intimate relationship to our current texts, giving them much more flavour", Jeff concludes. "It is unique to have a Liberal Arts college in Europe. ECLA could never be the same on another continent".

Could ECLA exist without Berlin?

ECLA-Oxford Climate Change Conference
June 6, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

The ECLA-Oxford Conference on Climate Change, Energy and Security opened up a venue for the first interinstitutional forum of enquiry from May 31 to June 2 on the ECLA campus. The topics of the conference corresponded with the themes covered by the elective course "Global Issues" offered by Dick Shriver in the Spring term. The course is a survey of the most prominent challenges to humanity, also outlined in the list of the issues recognized and declared in the Copenhagen Consensus of 2003. Dick Shriver - the organizer of the conference - integrated it into the course. The participants included ECLA students, students of the G8 Research Group of Oxford University, academics and practitioners. The focus of the conference was to employ an interdisciplinary approach towards addressing the needs and challenges posed by climate change, energy efficiency and politics. The talks presented at the conference sparked discussions on climate change, energy politics, economics, technology, entrepreneurship, national security issues and G8 policy.

One of the lectures of the conference was presented by Dick Shriver on "The US Political Scene Vis a Vis Energy Security" introducing the stand of the US on the current policies concerning climate change. In light of the American resistance towards regulations proposed and agreed upon by the countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol the discussion took an interesting turn. The morning of the presentation, the newspapers announced a sudden change in George W. Bush's tone regarding the policies dealing with climate change. The USA proposed a different approach toward the problem relying mainly on new technology rather than suggested reductions in CO2 emissions. The news sparked a lively discussion and shed more light on the complexity of the issues discussed at the conference.

An important part of the agenda of the G8 Summit taking place in Heiligendamm from June 6 to June 8 aims at forming concrete steps to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius and preparing the ground for a new framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012. Discussions on the necessity, challenges, obstacles and opportunities associated with reaching an international agreement became an integral part of the Climate Change Conference at ECLA.

The last day of the conference was designed to give participants a chance to engage with policy drafting simulation imitating the work of the G8 Summit group. "I liked very much the presentation by Maria Banda (G8 Research Group), because it gave a comprehensive review of the activities of G8 specifically in light of their work on climate change problems", stated Elnura Botobekova (AY 2007, Kyrgyzstan). "The conference gave the chance to think about a global issue without over-simplifying it. I felt the lectures were sufficiently informative for the discussions to be genuinely critical", said Martin Aher (AY 2007, Estonia). The conference was sure a success providing precedent for future conferences at ECLA.

June 5, 2007
By Alicja Weikop

ECLA's own bluegrass band Bluegrazz Berlin invites all to a concert, which will take place at Cafe Lyrik in Kollwitzstrasse 97 on the 13th of June at 8pm.

Bluegrazz Berlin works under the direction of Michael Geisler (ECLA's choir director) and is made up of ECLA students (Judith Schmid and Daria Coscodan), ECLA alumni (Friederike Wenzel, Natalia Kowalczyk, Ben Seyd and Charles Lang), as well as Barbara & Dick Shriver and Dirk Deichfuss.

May 29, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

A peculiar informational plaque posted in a field in Joachimsthal reads:

The man on the field is playing Flint, the main character of Heiner Mueller's 1961 play 'Die Umsiedlerin' (The Resettler). His movements, thoughts and expressions have been rehearsed in New York City. He is planting half a ton of potatoes.

The actor David Barlow spent 14 hours per day for one month (5th - 28th May) in the Brandenburg countryside farming and acting, with or without an audience, as part of Bauerntheater (farmers' theatre), an artistic project lead by ECLA instructor David Levine.

The project brings into question the technique of method acting (life-like, realistic performance and actors being able to holistically embody the characters). As David Levine explained during the panel discussion held in Joachimstahl on the 12th of May (Why Watch Work?), in many ways method acting requires the actor to go through a "crash course" in appropriating the skills of the character. In this sense, a method actor is a person of whom it is expected to learn any profession in a short period of time. Could David Barlow then embody the character of a German farmer after one month's training in New York and then actually successfully plant potatoes? Bauerntheater also re-evaluates the relationship between acting and the stage by questioning the meaning of method acting technique in the context of the artificial setting of the stage.

If acting to some degree involves imitating a character's professional work, then the question arises - why go to the theatre to see an actor play a farmer, when one can see a farmer anywhere out on a field or, in more general terms, why use theatre to reproduce reality? The confusion of the Bauerntheater audience expresses this problem well: is the man on the field an actor, a farmer or an actor playing a farmer? Upon this realisation, one no longer knows how to respond to the situation. Should we be indifferent at the banal sight of a man farming, or feel sympathy for the actor exhausted by physical labour? In this sense, Bauerntheater manages to successfully blur the distinction between reality and performance.

May 17, 2007
By Natalia Ryabchikova (2007, Russia)

During ECLA's State of the World Week, students developed projects dedicated to social entrepreneurship. Following presentations by the three competing teams, the winning project was announced on Friday. It proposed setting up a youth radio station in the Georgian district of Marneuli. It was conceived by Lika Tarkhan-Mouravi and Leah Whitman-Salkin and developed by Mariam Gagoshashvili, Firuza Ganieva, Daria Ghiu, Eka Imerlishvili, Maria Savulescu and Pranab Singh.

In the region of Marneuli, not far from the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the majority of the population (98 thousand of 118 thousand people) consists of Azeris who do not speak the official language of the country. The team identified the absence of a common language as the root of many problems in the region. They proposed that issues such as the high unemployment rate, limited media-outlets, limited access to information, and low participation in the country's political, social and cultural life could be addressed by "Youth Radio Marneuli".

The aim of the "Youth Radio Marneuli" project is to initiate and implement youth-run radio programs in the Marneuli district, which would facilitate cultural exchange between the three major ethnic groups: Azeri, Armenian and Georgian. Such a radio station would provide information and entertainment in three languages for the whole community, as well as job training and work experience for high school students, and thus would further language education and promote cultural and social integration.

A sample 1.5 hour programme devised by the ECLA group included community updates, interviews and music. The programmes would be hosted by an Azeri-Georgian and an Armenian-Georgian speaker. Other potential programming outlined in the project included live and DJ-ed Georgian, international and local music, reports on youth and public issues, folk stories and poetry readings, multilingual dialogues and radio dramas.

The group presented a detailed timeline of the project implementation, which includes applying for grants, preparing sample programmes and organizing focus groups on location in Georgia, selecting team members, training and, finally, launching the first show. The preparation period of the project is six months and its startup cost amounts to 8,200 Euros. The group also calculated approximate revenues and expenses for the first year of running the radio station.

The final presentations and the announcement of the winning project were followed by a garden reception unspoilt even by the stormy weather.

Krzysztof Stanowski, a social entrepreneur from Poland, during the afternoon seminar

May 17, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

The topic of this year's ECLA State of the World Week was social entrepreneurship - a term quite recently adopted by both the business and academic worlds. Through their involvement, the students explored approaches to resolving social issues and forming a self-sustainable business plan. In more general terms, it helped students understand how to put theory into practice. The structure of the week provided the theoretical background as well as the challenge of working in teams and competing against each other in developing social entrepreneurship projects.

The morning guest speakers provided the framework by defining social entrepreneurship in terms of business, academia and society. The first two guest speakers Christian Seelos (lecturer and senior researcher at IESE Business School) and Nir Tsuk (Director of Global Fellowships, Ashoka) clarified the concept of social entrepreneurship networking, while Krzysztof Stanowski (Ashoka fellow) discussed the practical aspects of being a social entrepreneur in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The week ended with the lectures by Adam Davis (Philosopher, University of Chicago) and Paola Grenier (Sociologist, London School of Economics). The speakers also offered in-depth answers to the students' questions in afternoon seminars, explaining their vision of social entrepreneurship and sharing their experiences in the branch.

Working on student projects was done in the afternoons, in specialised seminars with ECLA professors and continued long into the night in the dorms. Student teams discussed the projects during seminars using different perspectives including aesthetics, ethics, business and public relations. Evenings were the time to meet with the team or undertake personal research. At the end of the week, during a joint session, all teams made presentations of their projects, which included the social issues they sought to resolve and their social entrepreneurial strategy. The €500 prize provided support for the implementation of the project and was awarded to the team of 'Youth Radio'.

ECLA instructor Catherine Toal, who co-organized the event, mentions how the 2007 edition of the State of the World Week was innovative. In contrast to the topics chosen in previous years, social entrepreneurship is "something that could not be treated solely in academic terms". The effort was "to bring together the education that takes place at ECLA with a practical endeavour and to reflect on both" explains Toal. The field is certainly a career option for those with a humanities education, which is one reason why ECLA also hopes to integrate this week's experience into next year's curriculum in the form of a book project and research methods seminar.

ECLA students also appreciated the opportunity to develop projects. Anca Rujoiu (Academy Year 2007, Romania) explained: "I found it difficult to create this project, because it was a break with everything we did here; however, the practical aspects gave me an image of what social entrepreneurship is or should be". Eka Imerlishvilli (Academy Year 2007, Georgia) spoke about the authenticity of the approach: "Working on our own projects was better than having a strictly theoretical approach, since the projects had real chances of being implemented. It made the State of the World Week not only interesting, but also extremely realistic". "Film footage of lectures, seminars and final presentations will be available in two weeks time on ECLA's website as well as on the State of the World Week webpage. The end of the year celebration at ECLA will probably feature a community screening as well" announced Jeff Marshall (Academy Year 2007, USA).

The week allowed us to reflect on the role liberal arts can play in confronting social realities. We learnt that where NGOs or governments fail, personal involvement and generosity can make a great difference. However, social change requires systematic and well-planned joint efforts. Moreover, we saw how understanding social phenomena is only the first step to resolving a problem, action must follow. We also realised that profit can be measured in terms of impact and social benefit rather than just financial gain. It is said that 'where there's a will, there's a way' and, hopefully, many of us will keep this in mind after graduation.

Jacques Faujour, Brassaï - Boulevard Saint-Jaques, um 1931-1932 © ESTATE BRASSAÏ - RMN/CNAC - MNAM

May 3, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

Brassaï is the pseudonym of Hungarian artist Gyula Halász, whose exhibition we visited last week at Martin Gropius Bau as part of the Seeing Berlin programme. A notable feature of the exhibition is that the hanging arrangement of the 1950's Moma exhibition in New York is now reproduced in Berlin.

Our guide began the tour from the last room of the exhibition, where Brassaï's common motifs: love, sexuality and death, were most evident. We were shocked to learn that Brassaï did not create graffiti himself, but instead photographed graffiti sites. He used to keep track of them in a notebook and always returned to the ones he shot to see what had changed. Uninterested in political graffiti, his black and white photos of carved trees and painted walls are focused on recurrent symbols, such as heart-shapes, masks, skulls, male figures and representations of the female body.

Brassaï began to experiment with photography in 1925. While working as a journalist in Paris, he decided to take pictures for the articles himself. One of his innovations is the concept of 'involuntary sculpture' in which different meaningless objects take unexpected forms when photographed from certain angles. Examples include photos of potatoes resembling spiders or a ticket changing shape when rolled up in someone's pocket. Brassaï always denied working as a surrealist, mostly because he disliked the indoctrination of Andre Breton, but his involuntary sculptures and his work with Dali provide evidence to the contrary. His interest in the female nude is also innovative. Through the surrealist rendering of his photographs, the eroticism of the female body is replaced by a sense of beauty and platonic fascination.

His pebble stone sculptures are also somewhat surrealist, as Brassaï gently intervened in the shape of stones to bring out the object within - bird, female figure or male genitals. Under the influence of Picasso, he painted on already exposed glass negatives and then re-photographed them obtaining completely new abstract photos. Another of his practices was to interfere with the exposed photographs by cutting them to fit the chosen frame. This preoccupation shows Brassaï's avoidance of conventional angles and compositions as well as his awareness of the role of art in photography. For the same reasons, he never allowed that his pictures be reproduced or anyone to assist him in the developing process.

He was called the 'eye of Paris' for his night pictures of criminals and prostitutes on the street and in brothels. The people he photographed had to sit still for several minutes for a night photo to receive sufficient exposure. This required convincing his 'models' to collaborate and allow his assistant to light the scene with flashlights. Brassaï was actually the first to take such pictures by night, revealing the underground realities of Paris. He took pictures of couples kissing in public, a taboo at the time, and also a reportage series depicting Parisian events, all included in the book 'The Secret Paris'. Apart from working as an artist and journalist, he also published 25 books, one of which is known for the dialogues with Picasso. His work in film-making was rewarded at the Cannes festival in 1956 (Tant qu'il aura des bêtes). On a lighter note, Brassaï is also known for measuring the necessary exposure time at night with the time it took to smoke one cigarette.

Photo by Ernest von Rosen,

May 2, 2007
By Natalia Ryabchikova (2007, Russia)

Last week ECLA's poetry lovers gathered once again in the Yellow House to enjoy each other's company, good verse and some strawberries. This Poetry Night was dedicated to spring and the many different emotions it brings - hope, despair, resolution, impatience and pure joy.

As usual, the readings were multilingual. Poems were read not only in English and German, but also in French, Russian and Portuguese. Every poem (except the English ones) was accompanied by a translation, one of which, from German, was devised on the spot by everyone present. The translations were as diverse as the poems themselves. Jacques Prévert's Pour faire le portrait d'un oiseau ("To Paint a Bird's Portrait"), a subtle parable about artistic creation, was read by Anca Rujoiu who alternated verses in French with their English counterparts. The two Darias inadvertently had chosen the same poet who happened to be a favorite of both and read the poem together. Daria Coscodan presented the Portuguese original of Quando Vier A Primavera by Fernando Pessoa and Daria Ghiu supplemented it with their own English translation.

Every Poetry Night has not been a mere recital, but a chance to learn about different literatures and cultures, and to learn new names and new words. This time the students found out about the tragic destiny of Russian symbolist Alexander Blok and about the four lives of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, who used several heteronyms, and each of his "incarnations" possessed different temperaments, worldviews and styles. The most famous of these were Álvaro de Campos, Bernardo Soares, Ricardo Reis and Alberto Caeiro, who authored the poem read that night in the Yellow House.

The poetry enthusiasts compared different names for "lily of the valley" called "small tears" in Romanian, "May bells" in German and "love affair" in French, remembered how to play hop-scotch and practiced pronouncing "Eichhoernchen". They also tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to discover the modern rhythm in Daffodils by William Wordsworth which was recently made into a rap song. This poem, dealing with memories and images so powerful that one can take them away and resurrect them again and again before one's eyes, is the best poetic description of the last Poetry Night at ECLA.

At this time of the year, Potsdam is exuberant with flowers, arranged on beds and climbing the walls.

April 30, 2007
By Natalia Ryabchikova (2007, Russia)

Last weekend a small but enthusiastic group of ECLA students got off at Potsdam Hauptbahnhof planning to spend a sunny day visiting the town's parks and palaces. Some of them had already visited Potsdam during the winter and were astonished by the changes brought about by spring. At this time of the year Potsdam is exuberant with flowers, arranged on beds and climbing the walls. Parks hide little ponds of forget-me-nots and lilies of the valley.

The valiant explorers mixed with numerous tourists admiring simple lines of Schloss Sanssouci, the German rival of Versailles, built for Frederick the Great. They marveled at its magnificent terraces where grapes and fig trees grow inside glass cabinets. Wandering through the parks they discovered Orangerieschloss, constructed in the style of the Italian Renaissance, imitating Villa Medici and the Uffizi. Neues Palais is considered to be the last great Prussian baroque palace, with four hundred sandstone statues and figures on its façade. They couldn't ignore the magnificent Belvedere auf dem Klausberg that was only restored in 1990 after spending decades in ruins.

The town is busy providing adequate support for several of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Alter Markt excavations are ongoing at the place of Potsdam's historical center. Archeologists are trying to find traces of the old Stadtschloß built in the 17th century, damaged during WWII and demolished in 1961. Horse-drawn carriages transport visitors from one palace to another. A picturesque windmill spins as it has been for many years. A man in period clothes and a velvet beret sings opera arias in the city streets. However, the strangest and most memorable sight, is a stuffed rhinoceros, suspended on straps and slightly swaying to and fro in front of the local Brandenburger Tor.

Pranab Singh (Project Year 2007, Nepal)

April 27, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

The time has come to think about the future, as we are now only 8 weeks away from the end of the academic year. With this in mind, the students are facing important decisions about their professional and academic careers. However, the fog may clear if instead of wondering about what the future holds we draw upon all that we've experienced and what we've learned at ECLA so far. This is what Jeff Marshal (Academy Year 2007, USA), Pranab Singh (Project Year 2007, Nepal), Lia Tarkhan-Mouravi (Academy Year 2007, Georgia) and Mariam Gagoshashvili (Project Year, 2007, Georgia) considered before making their big decisions.

Jeff decided to continue his education in liberal arts in the United States and feels that, "there just might be life after ECLA. It will surely be interesting to go back to the States after one year in Europe". His choice to continue studying at a liberal arts institution (Clark University, Massachusetts) was influenced by the experiences of this year: "I was definitely interested in this field of study, but at ECLA I became more determined, I understood better what liberal arts are". Confident about his future, Jeff says, "The world is my oyster; perhaps I'll specialize in archaeology or become a philosopher". Either way, his choices are highly motivated by conviction - "liberal arts are the way for me" he adds.

Pranab knows not only that there is life after ECLA, but that "there is a lot of it out there". Next year he will continue his career in Nepal in the field of social entrepreneurship - which is also the focus of ECLA's State of the World Week. "I will take this year to work and then I might apply for a master's degree in New York" he said. The fields he would like to study are business, creative writing and aesthetics. He is particularly interested in an individualized study program at New York University, where "you basically tailor your own interdisciplinary degree". As guest speakers from Ashoka, a network for social entrepreneurs, will take part in the ECLA State of the World Week, Pranab is certain that this event will be integral for his future development.

Lia and Mariam grew up together, studied in Hungary together, came to ECLA together and now they will also return to Tblisi together. Their plans after returning to Georgia are still unclear, however there is one certainty: "Mariam and I want to continue doing installation art" said Lia. "There aren't so many artists who do this in Georgia and I was just talking with Mariam about how we shouldn't waste what we have learned" she added, referring to the installation class they both took in the Winter Term at ECLA. Saying how much she loves creating installations, Lia hopes to find a good audience for such art in Tblisi. Resolving to continue creative exploration, she and Mariam will soon set off from ECLA - as always - together.

As for myself, I also believe that what I've learned this year is valuable for my future. Liberal arts have made me more socially aware, especially in terms of the effects of constructive and non-constructive education. Having identified what is lacking in my own education, I hope to develop an NGO conference promoting political science to high-school and university students in Bucharest. Since Romanian high-school graduates are not introduced to political science in school, studying at university in this field without prior experience creates difficulties for students. I am hoping to make this change.

Is there life after ECLA then? I suppose we have little choice about this - there just has to be!

Titus Techera (2007, Romania) reading Nietzsche on pain, exhibited alongside Nietzsche's death mask.

GALLERY OF SUFFERING: 'Schmerz' (pain) in Hamburger Bahnhof
April 26, 2007
By Rob Boddice (Faculty)

A visit to the Hamburger Bahnhof was incorporated into the course on Human-Animal Relations in Historical Perspective, as part of an ongoing discussion of the capacity to feel pain and to suffer as criteria for the ethical consideration of animals. The exhibition, simply entitled Schmerz runs from April to August, 2007.

On display was an unsettling mix of art, artefacts relating to the history of science and medicine, and personal accounts relating to the subjectivity of pain. The eclecticism was made coherent by the consistency with which questions were asked of the viewer, thinking through the various pieces on display: What is the meaning of pain? How can it be measured? How does it relate to pleasure? How do we experience and express pain, both directly (physical and mental pain), and indirectly (through compassion, pity, etc.)?

Foremost in our minds was Jeremy Bentham, who notoriously stated that ethical consideration depended not on one's capacity to reason or to speak, but on the capacity to suffer (An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1789). Philosophers have tended to see this as the widening of philosophy's scope to include non-human animals, though the implications of this Benthamite footnote are controversial. Alongside Bentham, the philosophical model of Richard Ryder - Painism (2001) - was a major topic of conversation. Pain, according to Ryder, is the chief ethical concern. The reduction of the suffering of the individual in most pain, be s/he human or animal, serves as Ryder's raison d'être. Several pieces in the exhibition were ideal stimuli for discussion.

Günter Biedermann's Narkose (1964), an educational film for medical students on the virtues of anaesthesia, interweaved footage of a human patient and a dog on the operating table, with all the painful, un-anaesthetised actions being carried out on the dog. This is a clear example of the historicity of sensibility. While contemporary viewers flinch at the pinching of the dogs paws, the film was presumably designed this way so as not to offend.

In the next room, Berlinde de Bruyckere's Speechless Grey Horse (2004) - a mutilated and decapitated horse carcass, with the hide roughly stitched back on - raised questions of suffering and the significance of being unable verbally to protest. The giant carcass is shocking to the eye: the obvious power of the animal rendered inert and butchered, sprawled on the cold gallery floor. It is not art for all tastes, but that is surely the point.

Finally, Francis Bacon's Crucifixion (1965) triptych makes a powerful point by confusing the grotesque scenes of the abattoir with the death of Christ, reducing these disparate worlds to the common theme of suffering. The uncertainness of the form here - is it human? is it animal? - though modern, immediately re-invokes Bentham's tracing of the 'insuperable line' between humans and animals.

A major question remains: how to make sense of the pleasure taken from indulging in all this pain.

Students during the acting workshop given by actor David Barlow

VIEWPOINTS: Acting Workshop
April 18, 2007
By Natalia Ryabchikova (2007, Russia)

Students who showed up for the acting workshop given by actor David Barlow last week, might have expected anything. But surely they didn't expect that "VIEWPOINTS: a physical, dance-based approach to making theater" would involve two hours of simply… walking.

Walking, running, stopping and sitting on the floor, trying not to bump into each other. Then lying on the floor and letting their bodies feel the force of gravity. Then walking again. They had to learn to see and feel what everybody else is doing, to turn a dozen bodies into one organism, an ensemble.

This was the task set before them by David Barlow, whose recent works include Rinde Eckert's "Horizon", Carl Hancock Rux's "Mycenaean" (part of BAM's Next Wave Festival), Chuck Mee's "A Perfect Wedding" and "Romola and Nijunski" (Dir. David Levine).

"Viewpoints", a technique which was first developed in the 1970s by dance choreographer Mary Overlie, is a counterpart of traditional, purely intellectual approach to theater. "It is a training technique for building new theater work, for mapping out composition and movement on stage. It is both useful for actors and directors", says David Barlow. Directors can learn how to compose in relationship to architecture. And actors learn to let their bodies follow their interest. A lot of times performances are simply uninteresting to watch because the actors' main purpose on stage is to look good and to avoid looking bad. There is an old inhibition against putting children and animals on stage. It shows the artificiality of everything else, precisely because animals and children, unlike actors, simply follow their interest. If actors retrain this sensibility, it wakes the space, and then something is going on.

"Viewpoints" encourage a sensibility to our bodies in space, which we seem to have lost. Even if you get an opportunity, as during this workshop, you don't quite know what to do. You laugh and fumble with your clothes and generally just feel uneasy. And then, like in yoga, you should go back to your breath. Sometimes such a workshop seems pure mechanics, walking along the invisible grid and performing only very simple movements. "It's not about being robots", maintains David Barlow, "It's honing in on our sense of human connection. After all this kind of training you develop as a group of people. And then you have all sorts of different ways of playing with the text".

The particular text to which the Viewpoints technique might be applied next is Chekhov's "Three Sisters" scenes from which are going to be staged in ECLA this term as part of the "Acting and Directing" elective.

April 12, 2007
By Natalia Ryabchikova (2007, Russia)

Standing in front of Barnett Newman's Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue? for twenty minutes in a row is a demanding activity. Two large squares of bright red and yellow, divided by a vertical stripe of dark blue is a perfect choice to start discussing abstract art.

The Neue Nationalgalerie, made of glass, marble and steel, was conceived by its architect Mies van der Rohe as a temple of new art. It houses its influential collection underground, far from the bright sunlight of spring. This is what students of the "Abstraction in Art" elective discovered during the first of their weekly museum visits.

They, however, didn't aspire to see the entire collection during this visit. Instead they focused on several representative pieces, such as Mark Rothko's № 5, Lucio Fontana's Concetto Spaziale. Attesa and the picture by Barnett Newman, the highlight of the Neue Nationalgalerie.

So the group lead by Aya Soika stood there, trying to make sense of it and wondering at the same time whether making sense was what was expected of them. What they learnt was that modern art had to redefine beauty and to come up with a new definition of the sublime. Modern artists experimented with two- and three-dimensionality of painting, with shapes and colors, textures and materials. They cut it and they sewed it, they burnt it and put nails into it. But was it still meant to be beautiful? Or was it all just a commentary on art - the art of previous centuries, deeply embedded in Renaissance culture?

The Renaissance was naturally a frequent point of reference, after the students had spent much time studying it during the winter semester and then exploring museums, galleries and churches during their trip to Florence. One more class on art after all this training? Daria Ghiu (Academy Year, Romania) says: "I took this course, because I want to study art history and theory and to become an art critic. I realized it when I took the course on Avant-garde in the first term. It was one of the best courses I'd ever taken, together with the course on Renaissance. I want to specialize in contemporary art, and abstract art is the background I need. And Berlin is the best place to study it, because there are always some exhibitions going on. I'm trying to visit as many as possible and I will certainly come to the Neue Nationalgalerie again".

In the end, everybody seemed to agree that pure beauty of artwork is still not enough, that it should give more than just aesthetic pleasure and that some content should be present. As the students moved on from the Newman picture to other pieces, they were trying to find references to the Holocaust in Guenter Uecker's work with nails, and a likeness to a notebook page in the straight lines of Francois Morellet's tilted canvas. Did Morellet say: "I have this page, but I don't have anything to say?" or, may be: "I have this page, but I don't have to say anything?". Still, the question remains open.

Students resting on steps in Rome

March 17, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

After several days in Florence, Rome was a sudden change from medieval or Renaissance architecture to the Baroque. Bearing this in mind, the last day of the Italy Exeat was a lesson on what came after the Renaissance.

We were very lucky that the Villa Borghese, a building formerly not open to the public, opened its gates recently. Very popular because of its novelty, it is situated to the North, in an area of splendid gardens which were also kept away from the public eye, because they belonged to the surrounding villas. The museum now houses a breathtaking collection of sculptures by Bernini - from his youth to his mature development as an artist.

Following the evolution of his style, we first saw the Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius - a representation of Aeneas fleeing Troy, carrying his father and son. The allegorical sculpture depicting the three ages of man, was created when Bernini was 21 years old. Next we saw The Abduction of Persephone. In this sculpture, Bernini's attention to detail is remarkable as Hades' hands actually press deeply into Persephone's skin.

Apollo and Daphne is considered Bernini's masterpiece - it captures the metamorphosis of the nymph into a laurel tree (from Ovidius, Metamorphoses). The piece combines dynamic and static features in figures turning and running, the transformation of the nymph, and the way Apollo ends the pursuit by grabbing hold of Daphne. The details are again fantastic - the hair of Daphne intricately turns into branches and her feet into roots.

Bernini's David is quite interesting in comparison to other depictions of the same biblical character. Contrary to its predecessors, this dynamic rendering focuses on David's movement as he swings the sling in his struggle with Goliath. Our visit of the Borghese Gallery ended with a long walk through the gardens on our way to the Etruscan Museum.

On the way to Assisi: Irina Beleca, Hannes Klöpper, Esther May & Hilkje Hänel

ITALY TRIP: Special Report - Visit to Assisi and Perugia
March 15, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

During the Italy trip we were offered the opportunity to visit Assisi and Perugia. The trip took us to the region of Umbria, famous for being the "green heart of Italy" because it has no access to the sea. In the past the two cities fought long wars over conflicing political affiliations: Assisi aligned itself with the Ghibellines and Perugia with the Guelphs. The main focus of the trip was to see the medieval structures of Assisi and visit the National Gallery of Umbria in Perugia.

Taking a train from Florence we arrived at the foot of the hill on which the white-stoned city of Assisi stands. The way up seemed almost like a pilgrimage to a sacred place, but many of us found the uphill walk challenging and pleasant. We all enjoyed the extraordinarily beautiful landscape of the valley. Getting closer to the gates of the city the excitement grew granting us the endurance to continue the strenuous walk. At the top, we realized that it was worth our effort. The view was breath-taking!

The main attraction in Assisi is the Church of St. Francis. St. Francis was the founder of the Franciscan religious order in 1208. He professed simplicity of life and closeness to nature, praised apostolic poverty and ascetic life. Our interest in the Church of St. Francis related to the series of frescoes traditionally credited to Giotto - one of the key artists in the advent of the Renaissance. Having visited both chiesa superiore (the upper floor of the church, originally accessible only to monks) and chiesa inferiore (the lower level intended for lay-people), we descended to the catacombs, where the tomb of St. Francis is located. The architecture and decoration of the church signify the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

Perugia was very much like Assisi, but much larger and more dynamic as one would expect from the capital of a province. Tired after the Assisi ascent we took a bus to the top of the vibrant town. The town's name became well-known for giving the nickname to the famous painter Pietro Vanucci, i.e. Perugino, who is said to be the maestro of Raphael. The National Gallery of Umbria contains many works by Perugino, which manifested a notably different style of painting from that originating in Tuscany.

The town is famous for its two major universities the Università degli Studi and the Università per Stranieri (Foreigners University). It is a melting pot for students from all over Italy and the world. Walking in the streets of the city we could not disregard the architecture that includes the Roman Aqueduct and Etruscan Arch, Fontana Maggiore, designed by Fra Bevignate and sculpted by Nicolò and Giovanni Pisano, Palazzo dei Priori and many other places. The trip to Umbria allowed us to see another region of beautiful, blossoming Italy, and conquered our hearts with its uniqueness and charm.

The official poster advertising SWWE2007 was designed by Daria Coscodan (Moldova, 2007)

March 10, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

Do you have an issue or concern that you would like to address? Do you think our community is able to make a change? Do you have a plan? These questions were posed during the State of the World Week introductory dinner on Thursday, March 8th.

State of the World Week is a forum of inquiry into current affairs that takes place during the last trimester at ECLA. This year's topic for the State of the World Week is Social Entrepreneurship - a term that captures a unique approach to economic and social problems, an approach that cuts across sectors and disciplines. It is about applying practical, innovative and sustainable solutions which benefit society in general, but with an emphasis on those who are marginalized and poor. Thus, it's primary goal is focused on social change. Broadly speaking, the SWWE is an event which proves the relevance of liberal arts in the context of current global issues.

Rafael Ziegler and Catherine Toal are the coordinators of the project with the assistance of the student body. Pranab Singh (Nepal), a Project Year student, proposed the topic of social entrepreneurship for SWWE 2007 earlier this year, and receiving sufficient interest among the students, the suggestion was approved.

During the dinner party students received an introduction to the activities planned for the week, as well as a general definition of the concept and its specific implications. The small presentations organized by Pranab Singh, Jeff Marshall (USA) and Firuza Ganieva (Tajikistan) were followed by questions about the details of the assignment.

The students' task is to write project proposals that would address a social problem. In April the best projects will be selected and developed during the SWWE workshops and lectures. The best group project will be awarded with a prize at the end of the Week. "The greatest benefit the students may take out of the State of the World Week is that they will get direct assistance and advice from the most prominent people in the field of social entrepreneurship", said Rafael Ziegler. The list of invited speakers includes Christian Seelos (IESE Business School Barcelona), Nir Tsuk (Director of Global Fellowships, Ashoka), Krzysztof Stanowski (Social Entrepreneur, Warsaw), Adam Davis (Philosopher, University of Chicago), and Paola Grenier (Sociologist, London School of Economics). They will share their experience in the field and offer political, sociological and philosophical analysis.

'Last Supper' - installation by Lia Tarkhan-Mouravi (Georgia, 2007)

March 10, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (AY 2007, Romania)

The final exhibition of the installation art class took place at ECLA in the last week of the winter term. Installations addressed themes such as trust, fantasy, change and the passage of time, vanity and power relations. I had the opportunity to act in the installation entitled 'The Last Supper' by Lia Tarkhan-Mouravi (Georgia, Academy Year 2007) and experience installation art from the performer's perspective.

In the words of its author, 'The Last Supper' expressed "the transformation that occurs in art when a certain motif is depicted exhaustively". Aiming to place her work in the context of ECLA, Lia chose the iconic Last Supper to reflect upon our academic focus on the Renaissance. Because viewers were exposed to images touching upon this particular biblical scene throughout the term they immediately recognized the scene played out before them. Nevertheless, some aspects were quite different from what is customary: instead of twelve male apostles there were six women and cigarettes took the place of the loaf.

"I wanted women to be the centre of attention and this is why six women replace twelve men" said Lia. "To the ancients bread was a necessity, but ironically, in our society cigarettes are a sort of necessary bread". Moreover, in contrast to the pious apostles in the Renaissance paintings, our lady apostles laughed, smoked, drank wine, talked loudly and celebrated the gathering.

While most people engaged in the scene from afar, those who ventured to come closer and ask us questions soon understood we only offered responses befitting our characters. Lia hoped viewers would feel the urge to sit at the table and grab a glass or a cigarette, which some of them actually did. Incidentally, a small accident added meaning to the artwork - a spilt glass of wine dripping from the tablecloth onto the floor was interpreted as symbolizing blood. "What is interesting about depicting biblical scenes is that all elements are understood as bearing a hidden message, even those things that would otherwise be obviously coincidental".

After the exhibition time ran out, we still felt like lingering with our wine and discussion at the table. I must confess that the symbolist tension of the piece made us feel uneasy at times; nevertheless we were able to overcome this and continue performing in a piece of artwork. I was quite impressed by the scene, perhaps even to a greater degree than I would normally respond as a viewer. Wrapped up in the discussion, both the grandiose and petty gestures of my fellow performers seemed to embody undecipherable meanings. "I had no idea how the performers would interact, but somehow, with all the spontaneity it worked out perfectly by itself" concluded Lia.

"Teaching guitar is a valuable activity for strengthening our community relations, outside of academics", says Timur Abenov.

March 8, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (AY 2007, Romania)

ECLA's musical activities include individual voice lessons, choir, dance project and also learning to play instruments. This new student project invites all those interested in learning to play an instrument to meet every week in ECLA's Music Room for lessons with a few students skilled in guitar and piano.

Who hasn't dreamt of being a rock star at least once when singing in the shower? Well, the next step is to combine ambitions with your personal taste in music and begin to rehearse favourite songs, which is - as our tutors say - the best way to start off when dealing with a new instrument. Daria Coşcodan (Academy Year, 2007) offers piano lessons in individual sessions. The main goal one should set for such lessons, she says, is to "avoid having great expectations and just play music for the sake of music". As there is not nearly enough time left for us to become virtuosos by the end of the academic year, progress depends on personal dedication and willingness to practice individually. Understanding this, student-tutors also offer one-to-one sessions, while the regular meetings take place on Monday evenings. Moreover, once every two weeks music lovers come together to share their experience and work on playing together. As Timur Abenov (Academy Year, 2007) explains, "we have some really dedicated and enthusiastic students - students are as important to the project as tutors". Tim is glad to be teaching guitar, because "it's a good exercise for the teacher as well as the student. Plus, it is a valuable activity for strengthening our community relations, outside of academics".

Daria, who studied music for nine years, is enthusiastic about her first time teaching music and hopes to bring together an ECLA band, which would include vocals as well. "I've experimented a bit with my friends, but never gave official lessons. I enjoy doing this because I feel music balances our studies" said Daria. Tim has always wanted to teach guitar, because his own skills were acquired with the help of friends who taught him as a teenager. Now Tim and Daria have the opportunity to pass on their skills and offer lessons in classical guitar and piano, chord- based guitar, jazz piano and music theory (the latter with Professor Geoff Lehman). Although sometimes it feels like our schedule is loaded enough as it is, having the chance to improve or start anew in playing music is certainly worth the effort.

Dance classes take place on the premises of Spok Fitness Centre

March 7, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

The word 'dance' generally conjures ideas of human movement used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting. The art of dance comes from the ancient times, when it was also used to describe non-verbal means of communicaton between humans. This Spring ECLA students have the opportunity to experience performance dance in the liberal arts setting.

ECLA has organized a dance project as an additional student activity sponsored by the office of student life. With many interested students, the dance classes will be offered until June 2007. The Pilates and Horton-based dance technique used for the classes trains strength and flexibility as well as developing a sense of balance, rhythm, muscle control and stamina in dancers.

While we sharpen our writing and reasoning skills in the lecture hall and seminar groups, the dance classes allow experimentation with other ways of expression. The leader of the classes, Alissa Burmeister, has a rich background in classical ballet and modern dance. She has a minor in modern dance from University of Iowa and had danced with companies in Minnesota, Chicago and Iowa. "The goal of the dance project is to give students an environment to develop their appreciation for dance, both in learning to evaluate movement as viewers and to execute movement as dancers", says Alissa.

None of the participants have previous experience with ballet, or dance for that matter. This makes it a new experience for all, uniting the students in the exciting and challenging activity. The first class started with learning basic dance techniques - the best ways to stretch rarely used muscle groups, isolation of muscles by a conscious distribution of energy and control of breath and various rhythm exercises. Short fragments of dance combinations are already learnt and practiced in class. Hopefully, the elements will come together in a performance with a live ensemble of early music later in the Spring, promising to open up a new venue for an aesthetic pleasure both for the dancers and the audience.

ZYXT is ECLA's first online literary magazine

ZYXT - Creativity at ECLA
March 6, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

If you enjoy writing creatively, then you will surely enjoy ZYXT. The ECLA literary magazine was launched on the Web this term and preparations for its second issue are already underway. The inspiration behind the initiative is the fairytale gold fish that can fulfil only three wishes - thus, the editorial team wishes that libraries be built on the lunar surface. As for the remaining two wishes, the team can only hope that what is being published in ZYXT is "the fulfilment of those certain wishes that may only be satisfied through literature".

The mission of the publication is to "represent the diversity present within its student body through the literary and artistic prowess of its students". The first issue contains the winning entries of the creative writing competition held by the magazine, which included three categories: prose, poetry and journalistic essays written by ECLA students. Apart from this, other submissions included a photo gallery on the theme of love between various objects found on campus, a film review for 'The Perfume' and poems that were read during ECLA's Poetry Nights.

Aiming to encourage creativity, the second issue will introduce even more artistic media and continue to promote the community spirit by also addressing ECLA's alumni. Our aim is to encourage even more students to submit their work. The issue that is to come in the Spring term will include new poetry from the Poetry Nights, photo and painting galleries, creative writing samples, interviews with ECLA faculty, reviews and video installation art - all reflections of various kinds of creativity emerging from within the ECLA community. While this issue will not include a creative writing competition, those interested in competing will find several interesting opportunities for participating in external contests.

The editorial team will soon call for submissions from current students, alumni and faculty, the only criterion for publication being the originality and creativity of the pieces. If you have enjoyed reading the Fall issue, the team welcomes your creative ideas and submissions for the Spring issue of ZYXT, the last to be created by this editorial team. As for the future, the further development of our college's magazine is a project we plan to hand down to next year's students.

ECLA hosted eleven students from the United World College of the Adriatic

ECLA Hosts Students from the United World College
March 5, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

Cooperation with other educational institutions is an important goal for ECLA. Last week ECLA hosted eleven students from the United World College of the Adriatic as a way of assisting them in their research. For a week they became a part of the life of our college and contributed to the diversity of our campus environment.

The UWC of the Adriatic has 200 students from some 80 countries. They spend the last two years of their secondary education to prepare for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, immediately before applying to universities. They study together, practice sports and organize cultural activities, undertake community service, and seek to integrate with the Italo-Slovene village of Duino. All students attending the United World College of the Adriatic are scholarship holders and the scholarship covers all costs for the two year educational programme. The philosophy of the college is to promote international understanding and cooperation through education.

A UWC curriculum includes a week dedicated to student projects. The group of students visiting ECLA was investigating the assimilation and identity issues of the Turkish immigrant students in German society. Their interest in this issue was aroused by media coverage, which claimed that integration of Turkish immigrants in the German society is very problematic. The student researchers decided to come to Germany and interview pupils about their experiences and make a short documentary film about their findings. They arranged visits at two schools - Nicholaus August Otto Schule and Robert Koch Gymnasium. Both schools are known to have a high percentage (about 90%) of ethnic minority students. The interviews were conducted in small informal discussion groups.

The findings of the research suggest that the level of integration of Turkish immigrant students into German culture is much higher than claimed by most of the media sources. While the data still needs to be processed and analyzed, the visiting students felt that their mission was accomplished successfully and they also got a chance to get acquainted with the ECLA community. "We were very lucky to find ECLA - such a hospitable and open institution in Germany. This allowed us to conduct our research and finish our project", said Michael Hempel a native of Canada, the project leader. Another student from Palestine, Nevine Abutaima, noted that "ECLA is very similar to our school: students are like one big family sharing ideas and educational goals".

We wish the UWC students much success in their further studies and educational pursuits!

"An Inconvenient Truth" official film poster

February 27, 2007
By Daria Coscodan (2007, Moldova)

On Friday the 16th of February, ECLA hosted a screening of Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth", which was followed by a stimulating debate on climate change and its implications. The organizer of the event, Rafael Ziegler, invited two guest speakers: Jens Reich (Professor of Bioinformatics at the Medical Faculty of the Humboldt University, Deputy Chair of the German National Ethics Council) and Gregor Betz (Lecturer at the Institute of Philosophy, Freie Universität) who provided the audience with important insights on the issue, both in terms of the film and of the phenomenon itself.

"An Inconvenient Truth" is a documentary film, narrated by Al Gore, the man who "used to be the next president of the United States of America". The film was released in 2006 and since then has elicited substantial positive and negative attention. It was awarded an Academy Award as the strongest documentary film of the year and was recognized to have a considerable impact on the American and European public in particular.

The controversial content of "An Inconvenient Truth" proved to be the focus of discussions which followed the ECLA screening. Both Jens Reich and Gregor Betz asserted a substantial critique of the way the issue is presented in the film, arousing concerns and stirring a number of questions regarding the political and economical aspects of climate change. Dr. Betz also pointed out some scientific speculations asserting that "Europe is not going to have an ice age", as argued in the film. The combination of the current reality, the scientific probability and the unempirical predictions generates uncertainty and creates the conditions for the ongoing climate change debate.

ITALY TRIP: On the way to Florence
February 26, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

It feels like winter term has just started, but we are already half-way through and the trip to Florence is just a few weeks away. The ECLA Academy Year core curriculum of the second term is directed toward the Florentine Renaissance in order for students to get the most out of the trip. Meanwhile, intensive preparations for the trip are underway on several levels.

Many things need to be done before we leave: planning the itinerary of museums and architectural sights, arranging accommodation and meals and creating programs and booklets to help the students navigate the city.  After a call for help with logistics and formalities, many students responded with great interest. Six teams of students engaged in different kinds of preparations are formed under the supervision of Dirk Deichfuss - trip coordinator, and his assistants - Alissa Burmeister and Yvonne Turaj. An opportunity to bring a personal contribution toward the upcoming trip is the driving force for the student assistants. One of the activities students are engaged in is creating the Florence Handbook, which will contain detailed schedule of the planned tours as well as students' research entries on the places to be toured. These entries will be useful in Florence when students will give small presentations on the selected works of art or sites. The handbook will serve as a personal guide around the city for students during the trip, also providing information on places to visit besides the tour program.

There is indeed a lot to be seen! Arriving to the airport in Rome students will follow straight to Florence, stopping by in Pienza and Arezzo to see the idealized cities with carefully planned urban composition. The very next day we will be climbing Bruneleschi's cupola to take an overview of urban structure of Florence. In the middle of the week students will be offered one-day trips to Siena, Perugia, Assisi and Medici villas, before returning to spend a couple of days in Rome. The week will be full of tours, trips and discoveries. It promises to be intensive and includes a wide range of activities.

Geoff Lehman and Aya Soyka - professors actively involved in teaching the core course this term - played a major role in arranging the tours for the Florence trip. For them the city is an old friend and they know almost every part of it by heart. Geoff is very excited about the trip and "looking forward to a great experience, which will acquaint the students with the Renaissance work of art". Five main tours will be offered to all students, but the majority of tours are offered to smaller groups depending on the personal and academic interests of the participants.

As it is often said, seeing once is better than hearing a hundred times. Our excitement about the upcoming adventure ignites our spirits and motivates our dedication in and outside the classroom.

Work to Keep Free!, 1943 U.S. Government Printing Office © Washington D.C, National Archives

February 15, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

The German Historical Museum in Berlin with its new exhibition 'Kunst und Propaganda' (Art and Propaganda) has grown quite popular at ECLA in the last weeks. First the 'Continental Aesthetics' class visited this exhibition in order to better understand the conventions of art at the time Heidegger was writing and how art changes its nature when used as political propaganda. The second organized ECLA visit was part of the 'Seeing Berlin Programme' when students had the opportunity to learn about history and interpretations of the artworks from a professional museum guide. Still curious about the exhibition, some students went there yet again and a full-scale 'Art and Propaganda' craze is now spreading rapidly among the student body. So I dare ask, why is this exhibition the favoured destination for ECLA students going into the city?

This exhibition is special because it tears down taboos. We usually think of propaganda in the terms of manipulation undertaken by totalitarian regimes. On the contrary, this exhibition tends to show that propaganda without the negative connotation it holds today is ultimately a means for political communication. The exhibition provocatively places collections from the same period (1930-1945) but from different governments side by side: Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, the USSR under Stalin and the USA under President Roosevelt. Without discerning among the types of regimes, perhaps this layout is intended to show that an institution getting its message across is not necessarily a bad thing. Before television news networks, political communication was undertaken in various other forms, including the visual arts. Even though many today think of art as a free discipline, not serving the interests of any group, observing how artists were forced to appropriate their art to fit the ideology of the government made me uncomfortable. What is more, being faced with ideas and images from before and during the Second World War period imposes a lesson on our understanding of history and politics - not everything we are told is true or justified. Questioning what propaganda means to the contemporary world, I feel, is the most powerful message this particular arrangement of artworks transmits.

The impact of the messages on society was the degree to which propaganda appealed to regular persons. Interaction with art can be a strong personal experience, but when combined with subtle or less-than-subtle messages, the outcome can be frightening. Quite wisely, the exhibition is organized into four categories: representations of political leaders, representations of society, men at work and finally - war images. This shows how one, not particularly interested in politics, could be lured into political ideology by utopian depictions of family, society, urban development, hard labour and its benefits. The images representing feelings of security and community spirit were easily appealing to a wide audience. What was previously considered to be ideology, thus became the social norm. Although a bit troubling, this exhibition was a vivid experience that stirred our critical thinking skills.

ART AND CHOCOLATE - Interview with Aya Soika
February 12, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

Avant-garde art will always taste like chocolate to me. This is owed to our art history professor, Aya Soika, who showed us how seminar discussions can become even more pleasant in a cosy atmosphere. Following this precedent, I had an interesting interview with her over a cup of tea and chocolate of course.

First I learned of Aya's academic background. She specializes in the art of the 20th century, "on the synthesis between art and life" and began her studies in Art History, Literature and Classical Archaeology at Berlin's Humboldt University. After two foundation years, she decided to focus on the history of art, and spent several months as an intern at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. "The practical insights gained through work at the museum and the change of scenery were a welcome break and a great addition to my studies". A year later, she returned to Cambridge as a PhD student, working on the public face of German Expressionism. After completion of her doctoral dissertation at the end of 2000, she took on a Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, but already by then she had started to give occasional lectures and museum tours for ECLA's International Summer University. She always welcomed the chance to be back in Berlin.

In 2005 she was invited to join ECLA as part of the faculty, and happily returned to her home town Berlin to take up this exciting opportunity. Since then she has been teaching electives, organised the Seeing Berlin Programme, and lectured on various occasions for the core course. One of the electives she held last year dealt with Platonic concepts of art, "which traced the concept of mimesis from ancient Egypt to the modern times"; another elective was centred around the cult of artistic genius as reflected in the Renaissance; also, she has offered a course on modernism and anti-modernism - "concerning the status of art in totalitarian governments and the persecution of artists by the national-socialists". This academic year, she co-taught the Avant-garde art class with Laura Scuriatti, in what was "an interdisciplinary experiment between art and literature". At the moment, Aya teaches Renaissance art in the Academy Year core course and we are looking forward to her elective next term on the theme of abstraction in art.

In addition to her teaching, together with her husband Bernhard who is a twentieth century historian, currently holding a research position at the University of Cambridge, she is writing an artistic biography of the German Expressionist painter Max Pechstein, which she hopes will be completed by the end of this year. In parallel, a catalogue raisonne containing Pechstein's complete oeuvre of ca. 1200 oil paintings will be published in English and German in a few years' time.

Aya tries to "make students enthusiastic about their studies". In addition to a discussion of artistic concepts, her classes focus on the visual aspects of the analysis of art. It is her aim to provide students with the vocabulary and thus the practical tools to understand and interpret art on multiple levels. Ideally, students will be able to cultivate their individual passion for art beyond the classroom. "The seminars can only be the starting point for an in-depth investigation, which may even allow you to look at the works from a different perspective." Aya sees looking at art with fresh eyes as necessary for herself, too. "Preparing a lecture, discussing a work in class, or taking a group to a museum is most often a rewarding experience: it allows me a fresh look and a new perspective, which is certainly one of the exciting aspects of teaching" said Aya about her work at ECLA.

Emily Dickinson. Photo dates from ca. 1848-1853

February 9, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

"He questioned softly why I failed?
'For beauty', I replied.
'And I for truth', - the two are one;"

(Emily Dickinson, I Died for Beauty)

The Yellow House (home of ECLA's President Laurent Boetsch and his wife Elizabeth) hosted our community again, for what is now a tradition at ECLA -Poetry Night. Students selected and presented poems on the theme of 'female voices' in English, Romanian, Chinese and German. Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Rita Dove and Annette von Droste-Hülshoff were among the focus of the evening.

A uniting theme of our poetry nights running through each event is the concept of diversity which we understand in terms of culture, epoch, language and style. In this poetry night, children's verse was also shared. Anca Rujoiu (Romania, Academy Year 2007) brought a poem she used to recite as a child, Gândăcelul by Romanian author, Elena Farago. It is about a tiny insect, squashed in the fist of a boy: "Să ocroteşti cu bunătate, / În cale-ţi, orice vietate" (In your path, protect with kindness all living beings). "When I was little I couldn't really understand that the poem is about death. What I learned by feeling pity for the bug was to be gentle with nature and of course, that people are fragile too" said Anca about the touching childhood verses. Even in the language of children, poetry can express itself in the simplest of ways - and still convey deeper meanings.

Listening to poems in different languages is one of the special flavours of the event. Of these languages, Chinese is always in the centre of attention, as only a few lines of writing can last for long when read aloud. Li Zhijin (China, Academy Year 2007) read To the Tune of Like a Dream by Chinese poetess Qingzhao Li. This poem, written in ancient Chinese provoked discussion about the status of the female in ancient Chinese society and especially the education of women. Four-word constructions were used in the ancient tongue to record stories only educated people could truly understand. "The female author is atypically well-educated for the traditional Chinese society during the Song Dynasty", said Li Zhijin. Nevertheless, the story of the poetess is a sad one, as her family once was wealthy and powerful, but lost everything due to government corruption. Her poem expresses the longing she felt as a widow, using flowers as an allegory of her sorrow.

The evening made us look forward to the next poetry gathering, when we hope poems about Spring will be accompanied by the pleasant weather in Berlin. By the end of the academic programme, students plan to complete the Poetry Book containing selected poems read throughout the year.

Martin Ruehl on "Thomas Mann and the Italian Renaissance in Fin-de-Siecle Germany"
February 5, 2007
By Aya Soika (Faculty)

The fifth week of Winter Term was started with a guest lecture by Martin Ruehl. Martin - an intellectual historian - studied in Cambridge and Princeton, and is teaching at the University of Cambridge. He visited ECLA for the first time several years ago, presenting a lecture on Nietzsche. He was obviously thrilled to be back. In his lecture, Martin provided a comprehensive introduction to the overall theme of the week: the reception of Quattrocento Italy.

Going far beyond the textual analysis of Thomas Mann's Fiorenza, Martin gave a fascinating account of the history of reception of the Italian Renaissance in Germany from the early nineteenth century to the 1920s. This "Renaissancismus", as it is called, was a widespread phenomenom which manifested itself not only in literary statements, but also in a revival of the Renaissance style in architecture and painting. Martin took us on a journey back to the bourgeois and later anti-bourgeois motivations of this Renaissancismus. He started his account with Goethe's Italian travel diaries of 1829, and continued with the seminal study by Jacob Burckhardt Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien of 1860, in particular his chapter on the State as Art Work (in our Readers!). Burckhardt't impact on his contemporaries was considerable, and among his disciples was Friedrich Nietzsche, who had attended his lectures at Basel university. From Nietzsche's literary concepts Martin progressed to their appropriation by the racial theorist H. S. Chamberlain, who became a sympathizer of the National-Socialist regime.

After this essential contextualization, we were ready to take a closer look at Thomas Mann's text of 1905 which has been much criticised. Interestingly, Fiorenza was already considered in critical light by contemporaries. Even at the time Mann was attacked for it by the journalist Alfred Kerr, Mann's rival in trying to conquer the heart of Katja Pringsheim (Mann's later wife) who did not consider it a work of genius but of Sitzfleisch (literally translated as sitting flesh). Since its publication, Fiorenza has had difficulty to stand up against other works by Mann, and the discussion over the quality of the work, as well as Mann's personality and artistic creativity led to a lively discussion afterwards.

Martin can be contacted on

For those interested in reading more about the topic, have a look at the below articles:

'Death in Florence: Thomas Mann and the Ideologies of Renaissancismus at the Fin de Siècle', in S. Marchand and D. Lindenfeld (eds), Germany at the Fin de Siècle: Culture, Politics and Ideas (Baton Rouge 2004)

'Blut, bellezza, Bürgertugend: Thomas Manns Fiorenza und der Renaissancekult um 1900', in C. Emden and D. Midgley (eds), German Literature, History and the Nation (Oxford 2004), pp. 189-229.

VISIT TO GEMALDEGALERIE: Renaissance Experience in Berlin
February 1, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

The study of the Florentine Renaissance is in its full motion at ECLA: students attend lectures on art history as well as study literature of the prominent figures of the time. In addition to presentations and discussions in the classroom,  the visit to Berlin's Gemäldegalerie allowed students to see the actual works of art. Visiting various Berlin museums is an integral part of ECLA's Academy Year program.

Berlin's Gemäldegalerie possesses one of the most important collections of European art- from early medieval panel painting to the neo-classical works of the early nineteenth century. ECLA students visited the museum last November, when it was hosting the Rembrandt exhibition. This time the subject of interest was the early Italian painting, with works by Giotto, Fra Angelico and Botticelli. The tour was guided by Geoff Lehman and Aya Soyka, ECLA's faculty members involved in teaching the art historical component of the core course.

Walking in the large halls of the museum, students had a chance to engage in  discussion about the significance of the paintings. With Aya and Geoff they traced the development of the painting techniques and observed the differences in execution in different parts of Europe. For instance, early German iconographic images emphasise the subject matter and symbolism of the depicted objects, while Italian paintings focus on the rigid structure and the viewer's access to the painting.

The students learned that as a result of the division of the city after the Second World War, the art collection was split between two exhibition centres, one in the West and one in the East Berlin, for more than fifty years. Today it is finally reunited and on display in the new welcoming interiors of the Gemäldegalerie at the Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz.

January 25, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

On Thursday the 25th of January students participating in the Installation Art class shared their projects with the community. This being their first exhibition, the students channelled their enthusiasm into (as many of them later described it) "the perfect opportunity to express creativity". According to David Levine, the course tutor, the class presents students with the opportunity to "get conceptual autonomy; the chance to work with their hands, show their work, and acquire fairly versatile technical knowledge". How students relate to installation art is what we tried to learn by interviewing some of them about the concepts and techniques employed in their first works.

Anca Rujoiu (2007, Romania) describes her interest in being creative as a result of having accumulated a lot of information at ECLA and now feeling the need to translate this into an expressive language. Her installation focused on the contrast between the interior and exterior of the medium, as if "two people inhabited the same body in a state of constant tension". While this tension was transferred to objects, the human dimension of the work made use of two voices in a dialogue taken from Hemingway's short story Hills Like White Elephants. As the conflict between the voices becomes more acute, the objects themselves deteriorate.

The Installation class was one of the major factors for Mariam Gagoshashvili's (2007, Georgia) decision to study at ECLA. She had always practiced painting and had a strong interest in installation art. Her installation exposed the automatic processes that take place inside the human body. "Everyday things that we do without conscious intervention may be rather complex and sometimes involve so much effort on behalf of our bodies" she explained. Her construction represented an oesophagus accompanied by voices describing dysfunctions of the digestive system.

'Don't be afraid' was repeated in the sound installation made by Lia Tarkhan-Mouravi (2007, Georgia). A chair enclosed in a cage of bars, resembling a prison cell, made people "want to look for themselves at what was happening inside", while sound travelled all around the enclosure, as if discussing the content of the cell. "Some visitors thought it was scary, in spite of the voice that kept telling them to have no fear", stated Lia about her project. She intended to avoid giving her work explicit meanings and provoked spectators to bring forth their own interpretations.

The first installation exhibition this year paved the way for three more shows that are to follow over the course of this term. As David Levine explained, the overall aim of the elective is for the "participants to be able to obsess over their own issues, content-wise". We are all looking forward to see their 'artistic obsessions' in the next shows.

ECLA names David Durst to Head ISU 2007
January 25, 2007

ECLA European College of Liberal Arts is pleased to name David Durst, associate professor at the American University in Bulgaria, as Interim Director of the 2007 International Summer University. Durst will replace Theodor Paleologu, currently the Romanian Ambassador to Denmark and Iceland, who has asked to step down owing to his diplomatic commitments.

David Durst is a graduate of Colgate University (New York) and the University of Tubingen (M.A., Ph.D), and has taught in the philosophy department at AUBG since 1994. As this will be his fourth summer at the ECLA International Summer University, Professor Durst is thoroughly familiar with the special challenges and rewards of the ISU. His research focuses primarily on 19th and 20th Century continental aesthetic and political thought and he has published widely in the field.

Laurent Boetsch, President of ECLA, remarks that "ECLA is especially fortunate to be able to count on the experience and talent of David Durst to direct the 2007 ISU and to continue in the footsteps of Theodor Paleologu. We have an especially rich programme to offer this summer and are grateful to David for his enthusiastic willingness to organize and oversee its direction."

This summer's course, "The Mantle of the Prophet: Demons, Saints and Terrorists", begins July 13 and will explore texts, films, and images around six themes related to Dostoyevsky's Demons. The deadline for applications for the ISU is April 3.

Professor Maurer giving a lecture

MATHS AT ECLA: I Think Therefore i Is
January 19, 2007
By Alicja Weikop

During the second week of the Winter term, ECLA hosted Steve Maurer, a professor of mathematics at Swarthmore College, near Philadelphia in the USA. Prof. Maurer's task was twofold: to discuss with faculty and students ways in which mathematics might be integrated into the ECLA curriculum and to test run two introductory seminars which could be offered at ECLA during the next academic year.

On Monday, Prof. Maurer presented a special lecture about the place of mathematics in liberal arts education, which stirred some lively discussion about the relative merits of pure versus applied mathematics at ECLA. During the course of the week, the lecture was followed by two seminars: on Fairness and Elections and on Logic.

In a short interview Prof. Maurer revealed that he enjoyed the academic atmosphere at ECLA: the small seminar groups and the informal interaction between students and faculty reminded him of Swarthmore. He was also pleased about the students' participation in his seminars and their enthusiasm for maths, despite their predominantly humanities-based backgrounds. Prof. Maurer concluded that he sensed a significant subset of the students are eager to do maths at ECLA - maybe a sign of nostalgia for the definiteness of 2+2=4?

From left: Denise Budd, Geoff Lehman (ECLA) and Lynn Catterson

ECLA GUEST LECTURES: Lynn Catterson on "Renaissance Style and the Antique"; Denise Budd on "Medici Patronage"
January 18, 2007
By Geoff Lehman (Faculty)

The art historical component of ECLA's Academy Year core course on Renaissance Florence was inaugurated in style on the 9th of January with a pair of lectures by Lynn Catterson and Denise Budd, both scholars of Renaissance art visiting from the United States.

Professor Catterson, who teaches at Columbia University, has written on fifteenth-century Florentine sculptural practice and on Medici artistic patronage. Her most recent work focuses on the problem of Michelangelo's training as a sculptor and his early career in Florence and Rome. Her lecture at ECLA, on Renaissance style in relation to the antique, captivated students and faculty alike with the breadth of its treatment and the incisiveness of its analysis. In the course of the hour, Prof. Catterson discussed changing artistic responses to ancient sculpture, the role of humanist patronage in the creation of major monuments, the revival of ancient ideas about proportion in architecture, and the integration of classical form and subject matter in the art of the later quattrocento. Her lecture addressed the notion of the Renaissance itself and the connections between artistic style and its humanist cultural context. Quoting Erwin Panofsky, Professor Catterson described how the Renaissance looked at the culture of classical Greece and Rome and attempted to "resurrect its soul."

The second lecture was delivered by Deinse Budd of Rutgers University. Professor Budd has written on the work of Leonardo da Vinci and its documentary history as well as on issues of Renaissance artistic patronage. Most recently, she has published on ephemeral art in late fifteenth-century Florence. Professor Budd's lecture was a thought-provoking analysis of the central role played by Medici patronage in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the course of her talk, Professor Budd took us from the audacious marble tomb of John XXIII in the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral to the sophisticated iconography of the frescoes at Poggio a Caiano, painted a century later for the Medici Grand Duke Cosimo I. Whether describing the portraits of Medici patrons disguised as saints in a Fra Angelico altarpiece or interpreting the contrast between simple exterior and lavish, classicizing interior in the Medici's Florentine residence, Professor Budd combined an engaging visual analysis of works of art with an illuminating discussion of their political and humanist context.

Both lectures were extremely well received, as indicated by the enthusiastic responses and lively question and answer sessions that followed. The morning was a perfect introduction to the art historical topics and to the art at which ECLA students will be looking throughout the term, culminating in a trip to Florence in the spring.

Soon to be seen in reality - for now projected in the lecture hall

SPRING IN TUSCANY - Studying Florentine Renaissance at ECLA
January 17, 2007
By Clara Sigheti (2007, Romania)

By the time spring comes to Berlin, the Academy Year students should know every corner of Florence. This is to do with the fact that the core course this term is devoted entirely to the study of Florentine Renaissance. In the last week of the term, students will be given the opportunity to actually travel to Italy and experience for themselves what they have been studying from books - a treat they have been waiting for all year long.

The interdisciplinary nature of the Renaissance allows the syllabus to combine philosophy, art, history and literature. The Divine Comedy, for example, is "a very ambitious ground text" says Peter Hajnal, term coordinator. Having discussed an ideal city in the previous term (Plato's Republic), we now move on to the real city of Florence. According to Peter, it seems that both The Republic and The Divine Comedy are about justice and its impact on the civic context and questions brought up in Greek Antiquity resurface during the Renaissance.

The trip to Florence is the culmination of the term. As Peter stated, "it's part of the core education at ECLA to participate in the Italy trip". In the previous years there have been two trips to Rome and one to Florence. Nevertheless, Peter is convinced that this year has had the best preparation yet. Activities in Florence will feature faculty-led tours as well as tours guided by an art historian from Florence. Students will contribute to this by producing beforehand a "Florence handbook", which will bring together their own research and texts about particular works of art or sites in Florence.

It is no surprise that special emphasis is given to art history this term. Geoff Lehman and Aya Soika, ECLA's resident experts, are holding lectures, discussions and museum tours dedicated to Florentine art and architecture. The images that are soon to be seen in reality, for now are projected in the lecture hall - until students get a glimpse of spring in Tuscany.

January 8, 2007
By Nargiza Majidova (2007, Uzbekistan)

The winter break is over and the ECLA community is back on track to learn about the art and literature of the Florentine Renaissance. The students and staff had three weeks of exciting winter holidays, which brought new experiences and allowed everyone to explore Berlin, Germany or foreign countries. A lot of students travelled back to their native countries to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve in a close family circle and share the impressions about their first term at ECLA with their parents and friends. Others chose to stay on the ECLA campus to enjoy the holidays in Berlin and take advantage of the opportunity to travel to neighbouring countries or different cities in Germany. Some people combined both, going back home and returning a week or so early to spend more time with their new ECLA friends.

One way or another, by the start of the new term, ECLA buildings became a place of common gatherings and cheerful discussions about the passed holidays. One could hear about windy weather at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, a lot of sunshine in Romania, gloomy rains in London and big snows in Russia. Also it was interesting to hear about beautiful Potsdam only twenty minutes away from Berlin discovered by those who stayed in the city. Inspired by exciting stories, many made plans for future trips and lists of must-see places.

The warm feeling of comfort and joy present in the air was due to the realisation that we were back together in the environment that has become so dear to us. We spent almost three months together, but a three-week break was more than enough to feel the absence of our newly found friends and the small community of people, who share common values and educational aspirations. The winter break was a good time to pause in our studies and take time to reflect upon the material explored. It was a chance to take a deep breath before setting out on another voyage in the ocean of knowledge.