A Bewitched Visit

A popular belief in Italy is Befana, the name of a witch who flies on her broomstick on the night of the 5th January until early morning on the 6th January.

She flies from one house to the next to deliver presents, punish or haunt. In the course of time, the positive aspects of her personae have prevailed. As a consequence, she is now deemed predominantly as a good fairy.

It is custom for the children in Italy to hang their stockings by the fireplace, so that the witch can fill with them with presents.

At night she comes down the chimney into the houses and fills the stockings with sweets and presents for the well behaved children.

But beware! Naughty children only receive stockings filled with coal. Of course, this is not real coal, but "carbone dolce", a black coloured and sticky sweet that resembles coal.

On the 15th January 2015, great excitement prevailed in the ESM Kindergarten as the Italian witch Befana paid the children a visit. As always, the good witch was slightly confused and disoriented. At first, she ended up in the sports' hall of the Primary School, where she caused great astonishment among our dear colleagues from the security service. They wondered what type of school visitor this quirky character, wearing ragged clothes and a headscarf and carrying a broom, would be. However, as this old witch is very well-versed with magic formulae, she eventually managed to arrive in front of the right door; the one leading to the Kindergarten.

Cheerfully, she introduced herself to the children, who had been eagerly waiting for her arrival. The Italian "bambini" sang songs and recited poems in their mother tongue. The legend of the Befana was also performed as a play. They say that the three Magi had passed the house of the Befana during their search for baby Jesus. They asked the Befana to accompany them, but the witch refused as she was busy. A short time later, she regretted her decision and searched for the Christ child by herself, but as the bright star had extinguished, she could not find her way. In the hope that one of the children is baby Jesus, the Befana flew with her broom from house to house and gave children presents.

The Kindergarten children had all been well-behaved and quite rightly received the well-liked sugar "carbone", whereupon everyone danced to the song "La bella bimba". But then the time had come to bid farewell because the Befana had to leave to make children in Russia happy. However, she promised to return next year at the same time. She mounted her magic broom and said goodbye Italian style: "Arrivederci bambini!"

Primary School

Secondary School

Dance Sensation from Africa

"From the dusty playground to the international stage", this is how CNN described the sensational success of the Ugandan hip Hop/breakdance formation "Tabu Flo", translating as "chaos that flows". Abdul Kinyenya Muyingo, also called Abdanger, is one of the dancers from the Tabu-Flo team, who paid the ESM a visit. On the 19th and 22nd January 2016, he performed funky and groovy moves to the right beats with students from the Secondary School.

Uganda is often associated with dictatorship and civil war. But it also has the youngest population in the world. Nearly 70 percent of Uganda's population are minors. It is therefore hardly surprising that a hip Hop/breakdance project such as the one from Tabu Flo struck such a significant chord. "We had so much energy, and we needed to put it somewhere", said Abdanger. As hip hop and breakdance are much more dynamic than traditional African dance, the choice was not difficult.

The dance fever spread in no time, not only in the capital Kampala, but also beyond the Ugandan borders. "When we started to dance, it really went off like a bush fire", explained Abdanger the international breakthrough. As his colleague Philip Buyi, who visited the ESM in November 2013, Abdanger is also an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer and filmmaker, who repeatedly and successfully toured Europe to dance with students.

After a short performance in the assembly hall in front of hundreds of students from the Secondary School, he held workshops in African hip hop and break dance. Both students and teachers were encouraged to join the session in their free periods or replacement lessons, leading to a very crowded sports' hall. Abdanger succeeded effortlessly, to immediately captivate both girls and boys, young and old, and encourage them, to dance even unfamiliar steps and figures.

In Uganda this dance project, founded by young people, tries to push for positive social change. Here, young people become infatuated by the dance fever and feel pure happiness that has the unique "Tabu-Flo" touch to it; chaotic, flowing, lively and improvised.

Awards For Adventurers

There were a record number of award winners, a total of 66, at the International Award Ceremony in the "Alten Hof" in Vaterstetten on the 8th January 2016.

The Secondary School Director, Anton Hrovath, summarised the programme and its importance for young people's development, and Klaus Vogel, Chairman of the German "The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award", also congratulated the students on their hard earned success.

The 12 gold award winners in particular had experienced the motto of the programme - "you can achieve more than you think". It is difficult and, above all, very time-consuming to complete the various sections of the award. Perseverance, determination and above all independent planning are required. And of course, the ability to work in a team, without which none of the award winners would have completed their expedition. A truly great performance - considering the already substantial workload in an all-day school.

Klaus Vogel also passed on greetings from the 2,000 other participants in Germany, the whole German "Award Family", and thanked all the volunteers and the three teachers who supervise the award of the ESM. Only because of such a great team of supervisors, trainers and evaluators is the ESM capable of organising exciting and adventurous expeditions in different parts of Europe. Every year participants are able to visit pristine wilderness. Last year silver participants spent four days in the Scottish Highlands and the Gold participants trekked for four days (almost 80km) in Rondane National Park in Norway.

The programme has gained in importance in the ESM in the past year and is now much more strongly integrated into school activities. We are delighted that the school management is strongly supporting our work.