Uniting Nations through German Language Month

The Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia, together with the Embassies of Germany and Austria, opened the Month of the German Language 2018 last week with a performance by the prominent Swiss artist Alexandra Prusa. H.E. Lukas Beglinger, Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia, H.E. Arad Benkö, Ambassador of Austria to Georgia, and H.E. Heike Peitsch, Ambassador of Germany to Georgia, opened the evening with welcome speeches and introduced the program. the 6th edition of the festival, which brings together German-speaking communities under the slogan “Drei Länder, eine Sprache” (three countries, one language).

“Thanks to these joint activities, the month of the German language has become a tradition in Georgia and a symbol of the importance of the German language for the relations and multifaceted exchanges between our countries and Georgia – not only in the area of culture, but in many other important fields such as education, science, business, etc. These exchanges are mutually beneficial, and the solid position of the German language in Georgian schools and universities, which we endeavor to promote throughout the year, is a major asset for Georgia and its German-speaking partners. Cultural events and performances are not only attractive as such, they also convey ideas, perceptions and attitudes which stimulate dialogue and may promote change and reforms. For Georgia, which points its compass towards European culture and values, this kind of exchange is of great importance,” the Swiss Ambassador told GEORGIA TODAY.

“German Language Month is a varied program of events when it comes to Austria; we are dedicated to meeting with writers and focusing on literature,” Ambassador Benkö told us. “Next year, we plan to bring Austrian lecturers who will teach at Georgian universities.”

“Almost 25,000 school children learn the German language, which helps to broaden the horizon for people, making it easier to find a profession. We have a very interesting program which we hope will raise interest amongst youth. We have great support from the Ministry of Education, and we thank all the other institutions who help us to promote the German language to the people of Georgia,” the German Ambassador noted.

German Language Month has been celebrated since 2013 and aims at fostering multilingualism with the spread of the German language through a diverse cultural program. Until 17 June 2018, mixed events including lectures, movie screenings and workshops will take place in various parts of Georgia, including Tbilisi, Telavi, Gori, Bolnisi, Zestaphoni and Kutaisi.

The music-theater project “Abrazo - Tango of Survival” presented last Thursday was about a poor, young Swiss girl who migrated to Buenos Aires in 1935. Through synchronized music, theater and dance, the Swiss artist not only narrated the story of a girl and her struggle for survival, but also touched upon the issue of migration and the challenges related to it, an issue which is also familiar to Georgians today.

“I love Georgia!” Prusa told us. “I think Georgia’s a great place with very nice people. I was afraid they might not like the performance, as the setup was quite different from what I am used to, but in the end, I think they did.”

Georgia coming closer to Europe is a very long process, and the German Language Month is just a small part of a process which will ultimately lead to a better relationship.

“One of the main goals of the European Union is to foster and support diversity,” Ambassador Benkö said. “On the one hand, the EU wants the unification of Europe, but at the same time they do not want people to feel afraid that they might lose their identity or culture, so these performances speak to the culture of all countries. It was fascinating to see how much more a part of European culture Georgia was, more so than today, before the occupation of the Soviet Union, and we wish to bring Georgian culture back to where it used to be.”

We can look forward to many more performances, lectures, movie screenings and workshops during this German Language Month as we work on the unification of nations through culture, art, music and, of course, language.

By Shawn Wayne

24 May 2018 18:28