Report from the international Danish BSP Camp in Schleswig, Germany, 7-11 September 2022
Edited: 19 September, 2022
“Finally we made it. What had been planned for September 2020, happened successfully two years later in September 2022.”
It is Saturday, 10 September 2022, in the evening. Jon Urskov Pedersen, Danish teacher and BSP coordinator, is talking to an audience of approximately 100 teachers and students, gathered in the assembly hall of A. P. Møller-Skolen, or A.P. Møller School, in Schleswig, northern Germany.
A.P. Møller-Skolen is a large Danish school on German territory, a school for the Danish minority in northernmost Germany, situated in Schleswig, not far from the border to Denmark. Here at this school you speak Danish in your lessons and you get easy access to universities in both Germany and Denmark, once you have graduated.
The teachers and students sitting at A.P. Møller-Skolen on this dark September Saturday evening are an international group from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Denmark and Germany who have come together for the five-day international UNESCO Baltic Sea Project Camp “Sustainability Across Borders”.
They have lived in tents, they prepared workshops at home and have held them in two sessions during the camp. They have been on excursion, on the waters of Schlei, which is a deep and long bay of the Baltic Sea going back to the Ice Age. They have been to the cathedral in the nearby city of Schleswig, to Schloss Gottorf (Gottorf Castle) and to the old Viking town Haithabu from the Middle Ages, a UNESCO World Heritage site. They have been living, working and having fun together in an international group from countries around the Baltic Sea using their common language English. “English is a foreign language for all of us”, says Camilla Weidinger, working together with Jon as a UNESCO Baltic Sea Project network coordinator in Denmark, “nobody speaks English as a native speaker here, everybody has learnt it as a second language. This unites us and makes us equal, this helps us learning from each other, in all directions.”
And this is what the camp in Schleswig is maybe mostly about. Yes, it has its topics, most of all: the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are a key issue for the 21st century and also for the entire UNESCO Baltic Sea Project, of course they are in focus here. However, the many participants – teachers, students, parents and other interested people working with the UNESCO Baltic Sea Project – as a part of an educational process have experienced that all of us are learners, and all of us can also be teachers. Most workshops were led by students – it was a precondition for all students signing up for the camp earlier this year that they agreed on bringing a workshop. Teachers assisted where necessary, and yes, some workshops were led the traditional way by teachers, but during the camp there were many situations where teachers learned from students, e. g. as participants in a workshop – a great experience for everyone and bringing us together on a level playing field.
Another great experience was escaping from a storm together. When the group returned back home from its Thursday excursion on the Schlei waters right after noon, everyone had to move their belongings from their tents to the gym, a thunderstorm with heavy rain was announced for the next hour, and the hosting school allowed the participants to occupy a part of the gym for the rest of the camp, everybody was grateful about this hospitality. Moreover, it saved the camp.
The BSP has friends. Svend Duggen from A.P. Møller-Skolen is one of them, and a very important one, a teacher and excellent collaborator, he has worked as a camp co-coordinator and camp manager and has kept the camp idea alive at his school since Corona came in spring 2020.
On this Saturday evening in the assembly hall of A.P. Møller-Skolen it was time to say “see you” after all the workshops had presented their work results in front of the large audience. The camp was over, most participants were to leave early next morning.
“See you” rather than saying “farewell” is a tradition that has developed for more than thirty years since the UNESCO Baltic Sea Project was founded in Finland in 1989. In the UNESCO Baltic Sea Project there is always a next camp, a next conference, a next project, a next international workshop, a next digital event somewhere in the nine member countries around the Baltic Sea where we can meet, where we can do great things together, for ourselves and for a sustainable future of the Baltic Sea region. This is what the UNESCO Baltic Sea Project is about, with its programmes, projects, camps, conferences and – most of all – its many interested and committed people.
The Danish camp “Sustainability Across Borders” in a Danish School on German territory has been an excellent example of this.
See you at the next BSP camp?
Martin Jarrath, Germany
The author is, together with Camilla Weidinger and Jon Urskov Pedersen, both from Denmark, a general coordinator of the UNESCO Baltic Sea Project
Newspaper article about the camp in Flensborg Avis, 10 September, 2022 (in Danish language)