Reports 2006

Please note that not every group receives direct cash aid from the Association.

Youth Exchange    Balbardie Schützenfest   Official Council Visit

Groups visiting Hochsauerland:

February 2006 - a friendship visit from Balbardie Bowling Club.

Winter Sports
3- 6 February 2006

Six members visited the winter sports facilities in Winterberg in the South East of HSK. The highlight was undoubtedly the bobsleigh run. Although the run itself lasts less than one minute, it achieves speeds in excess of 70mph and imprints everlasting memories. No mention is made of the "apres-ski", but from personal experience of the HSK hospitality, I can well imagine! Return to 2006 diary

July 2006 - a German Youth Exchange visit by WLC Community Learning and Development.

Youth Exchange
27 July - 3 August 2006

Thanks to group leader John Lockart of Bathgate Community Education Centre for submitting this report.
Thirteen young people from across West Lothian took part in this exchange. Most of the group had been invoved in 2005 where the project was based in Lowport Outdoor Education Center in Linlithgow. Planning with our partners had been ongoing throughout the 6 months prior to departure. Young people from Scotland had forwarded their requests for programme inclusion.

The project was similar to that of previous visits to Germany, that of staying a week in HSK and the remainder of the time in Berlin. This gave the young people the opportunity to understand the geography of the country and take into consideration the cultural diversity. The programme was well balanced offering young people the opprtunity to gain knowledge, learning and have fun. For most the homestay was one of the highlights of the visit. Here they found that young people in Germany live in a similar fashion to young people on Scotland.

Almost all of our intended outcomes were met :
> New Skills: Through - European travel, cash handling, numerous programme participation, public speaking, group presentation, residential experience, socially acceptable behaviour.
> Confidence and self esteem: Through - interpersonal relationships within a new environment, and home stay, engaging with the programme.
> Awareness: preparation via discussion, reading and visual presentations, eg, the history, the holocaust, political structures, experiencing this at first hand.
> European travel: Through coach / air / underground, passport and security. Health card awareness of medical assistance, long distance journeys on autobahns.
> Preparation and Evaluation: Essential to attend all preparatory meetings and to participate.
> Educational: reflected in a written and verbal feedback as well as a recall meeting in September.
> Positive learning: All group members are encouraged to participate to the best of their ability and gain maximum reward from the learning environment offered to them.
> Have Fun: Reflected in all of the above.

Impacts at local level were:
> Parents were involved in the overall process through invitation to local meeting, and kept informed through correspondence.
> local West Lothian Councillors were made aware of the project through participants writing to them and through quarterly bulletin.
> Creating a personal interest in European travel through personal evaluations.
> Young people took the opprtunity to share their experiences with friends and family.
> Media coverage of projectr in HSK displayed in local paper.

Has the participation in the exchange made an impact upon the lives of the young people?
> For the young people they have established a friendship with their German partners, through the evaluation process in September we find that our young people have arranged a reunion in Scotland in December 2006.
> Young people now know how easy it is to make friends outwith their own country.

The staff and young people would like to thank the Twinning Association for the generous grant that assisted in the overall success of the exchange. Return to 2006 diary   Top

August 2006 - a friendship visit from Balbardie Indoor Bowling Club.

Friendship & Cultural Exchange
16-23 August 2006

A group of ten men visited the 4-day Jägerfest in Neheim. With an age range from 20 to 80 and including first-timers as well as seasoned veterans, there was still something for everyone on this trip. Running the gauntlet of the new, tighter airport security arrangements constrained the group in their range of gifts for our German friends, but these were well received.
We were met at the airport by a mini-bus provided by HSK along with a volunteer from the Twinning Association and a young man from the Culture department on his first ever escort duty for foreign visitors. His English was good, but what he made of our rather broad, Scottish accents remains a diplomatic secret!
Culture shock number one for the newcomers was that, unlike in Britain, bottles of beer were available on the bus and were being enthusiastically handed out by the bus driver as we boarded the coach. A visit to the Möhne Dam and a boat trip on the reservoir was arranged followed by a walking tour of nearby Soest. That day was rounded off with a nice meal in a a typical Westfalian restaurant.
As to the Jägerfest (or Huntsman's Festival), the variety of activities and entertainment over the 4 day duration are too numerous to relate here, but worthy of note is the enormous marquee which is erected for the event. It would more than cover the entire "Steel Yard" corner of Bathgate, had wooden panel floors and could comfortably accomodate a live band in each corner without them interfering with one another musically. There were four types of live band : Military band (in the sense of instrument configuration) (like Linlithgow Reed Band, for example); a "Spielmannzug" which is like a flute, picolo and fife band with a couple of small side-drums; a Tambourcorps comprising mostly drums; and a Fanfarencorps comprising non-valved, brass instruments and drums. By mid-evening, these live bands leave for a well-earned rest and very over-amplified, modern stuff takes over until the wee, sma' hours.
Excursions were also made to Cologne and Dortmund on different days.
On the final evening, the Scots "took over" the hotel and hosted a meal, exchanged farewell gifts and made (minimal) speeches of thanks and good wishes. Among the other guests that evening were stalwarts of the Twinning Association Egon Mühr (now sadly deceased), Bernie Lenz and their wives, Rudolph Brüschke as well as relative newcomers Erhardt Schäffer and Ulrich Blum. With some of the party having been regular exchangers for more than 25 years, there was quite a bit of reminiscing to be done, yet the commitment to the future was palpably strong.
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June 2006 - an official twinning delegation from the Council visited HSK.
Two members of the Twinning Association attended.
Our Chairman reports :-

Official Twinning visit to Hochsauerlandkreis
Learning from each other for each other
7-11 June 2006

The Official Council delegation travelled to Hochsauerland on the afternoon of the 7 June 2006 at the invitation of our twinning partner Hochsauerlandkreis, Germany.

8 June 2006
Community Working

The first day of the visit included a tour of the Hochsauerland. The first stop was to the monastery at Bredelar built in the18th century. This was an excellent example of the community coming together and restoring a beautiful old building for practical purposes partly funded by the European Union. The work has taken many years but through various funding methods and dedicated time given by the local inhabitants is now used by the people of the Sauerland to host many events i.e concerts and celebrations. The building is open to the public to view at first hand the standard of workmanship of the volunteers from the community. A very impressive building.
A guided tour of two further cathedrals both dating from the 12th century were also awe inspiring. And again the local community play a large part in ensuring both were looked after and all visitors were made welcome and informed of their history.
In the afternoon the group travelled to the south of the district and visited the village of Latrop. Latrop is a small village filled with traditional houses, half timbered, with carved doors and small gables.
Several years ago the community in this village decided to improve the landscaping and surroundings. And again the community came together to ensure this happened.
The community wanted to create a village garden that all residents and visitors could use. The cost to have this completed by contractors was estimated at E250000.00. So instead, the villagers set about doing it themselves and completed the garden for E15000.00
The village takes part every year in a contest that operates in Germany to find the most beautiful village. The village won this event in 2004 and 2005. This year the village also entered into the European Village of the Year and is currently waiting on the result.

Friday 9 June 2006
Official Reception

The second day of the visit included a visit to the Council Headquarters of the Hochsauerlandkreis in Medebach to meet the Landrat [Provost] Herr Doctor Karl Schneider, the Kreis Director [Chief Executive] Herr Winfried Stork and the first of the other twinning delegations in the Hochsauerland at this time.
The Landrat welcomed the two delegations.
In his speech the Landrat stressed the importance of twinning to ensure younger generations were aware of the need for countries to work and play together. The Landrat presented Provost Joe Thomas with a brass instrument to be used by the West Lothian schools’ orchestra. * see Gallery - Editor
The Provost thanked the Landrat on behalf of the people of West Lothian for the gift and also agreed the importance of continuing the twinning link between our countries that has existed since 1972.
There followed a tour of the Council buildings and of the town of Medebach.

Saturday 9 June 2006
Town Twinning Seminar

Delegations from France, Poland, Ukraine, Belgium England and Scotland gathered in Schmallenberg for an event to discuss European Funding and the importance of twinning in the 21st century.
Presentations on current twinning arrangements between Brilon in the Hochsauerland and Hesdin in France started the proceedings. This twinning arrangement started over 41 years ago. During this time exchanges, not only of school children visiting, but exchanges of doctors and teachers working in the partner country and the many cultural events have been have been organised since.
The Polish twinning arrangement is relatively new but each year many Polish and German teenagers meet up at ‘Eurocamps’ and the bond is continually being strengthened.
A presentation was given on the use of twinning and international links to promote Economic Development objectives and co-operation. Also on the changes to the West Lothian economy over the past twenty years and the need to move from a manufacturing based economy to a more diverse knowledge and service based economy and the role that international links and twinning can play. Specific examples were cited of the collaboration between West Lothian and Sweden, Germany, France, Ireland and more recently China. Such links involved not only the Council but also the Chamber of Commerce, private sector and further education colleges.
In addition partners from West Lothian, Hochsauerland and Olenso discussed the development of a joint EU funded project to support technology transfer in SME's.
The afternoon session began with the Landrat Karl Schneider welcoming the Minister of North Rhine Westphalia, Michael Breuer, and the MEP Dr Peter Liese. Both spoke about the continuing freedom in Europe and the necessity for our countries to continue to work together.
A further presentation on Services for Older People in West Lothian was made. An insight of the work West Lothian has undertaken to improve the services delivered for the elderly in West Lothian generated a lot of interest to all the twinning partners.

Sunday 11 June 2006

The delegation left early the Sunday morning to return to West Lothian.
Councillor Gamble, responsible for twinning within West Lothian Council said ‘we look forward to continuing, and indeed, developing the links between Hochsauerland and West Lothian. We have much to learn from each other and we greatly value the twinning partnership as a way of sharing good practice’.

Liz Liddell, WLTA Chairman
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