“Hallo, hello, bonjour” … or the 3rd International chemistry workshop of Clausthal-Zellerfeld

Hallo, hello, bonjour, or shall I just say.. well, greetings everybody, I am Peter, and in the next few lines I would really love to share with you a few ideas of mine that came straight up to my mind when I was given the opportunity to represent the 3rd ICW of CLZ by way of this report.

Chemistry can be fun...

Firstly, let me just give you a quick insight to what I’ve been (and will be) talking about right here – the ICW. The ICW (International chemistry workshop in Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany) is a educationally-oriented meeting of high school students interested in chemistry and this year it took place from 19 of February to 25 of February.  It is organized by Robert-Koch-Schule in CLZ and Technical University of Clausthal and as the word workshop already says, the meeting is closely connected with the participants being interned in the practical processes of creating actual things, in addition to getting new theoretical knowledge. What that basically means is that we were given a whole lot of opportunities in terms of widering our practical skills in the fields of chemistry, which is a great thing, considering you don’t get that just somewhere, right? Of course this isn’t just a thing you get to attend randomly – Clausthal is a twin town of Spišská Nová Ves, and our school has a partnership with the Robert-Koch-Schule in CLZ, which hosts this workshop every year (first 2015), inviting students from partnered school all around the world. That being said, students of our school weren’t obviously the only ones participating –  the workshop also hosted students from Metzingen, Osterode (Germany), L’Aigle (France), Oborniki Ślaskie (Poland) and Kalyani Nagar (India). How exactly my journey started, we’ll get to see in a moment.

As any person, distillation needs attention, or it will feel lonely. Right?

It’s all begun sometime in November, when we were given the information that something like this is happening in a few months, and that was the moment when I knew I would love to attend. So I went on to sign in and some time later, an email with the first information, starting with a multicultural “Hallo, hello, bonjour” (that’s why the title) arrived. Jumping over a few months’ time, we took a 20-hour train journey through 2 countries and at the end managed to accomodate ourselves in the Academy of sports (probably a university dorm, as far as I know). The first day we went on to meet all the people whose names we, until that moment, could only read in the caption of e-mails we received. Our manager, Mr. Franke, came up to be  as expected from the style of writing, a very nice and friendly type of guy who, even against the language barrier, tried to satisfy all our needs and calmly went through any hardships that came out during our stay. In the evening, all the participants met with the lecturers, sponsors and managers of the workshop in a restaurant, where we had dinner. The next day, the real workshop started, as we were introduced to the Institute of Anorganic chemistry, a few hours later also to the Institute of Organic chemistry, where we worked on many different experiments. The first few days were basically in the “nice to meet you all” mood, as we had to adjust to the new environment, get to know all the new people around, etc. That was the times when we actually could see the language barrier, mostly among our teachers, whose desire in chemistry is not always met with desire in foreign languages, and then humorous situations can occur. Similarly, slowly getting into speaking English on a daily basis, I found myself speaking English even to Polish participants, whom a standard Slovak can easily speak Slovak to. My teacher haven’t found it hard to understand and even less difficult to speak to them in Slovak, that wasn’t my case, though. So as I started speaking English to them, that became the language we used in our conversations, even though we live maybe 500 kilometres apart and our languages and very similar. See, that’s how ridiculous the world is. The workshop continued as expected, but we also (undesirably) got to see a bit of the town by way of having to walk everywhere, and when I mean everywhere, the town didn’t have any kind of public transport service so I suppose you can imagine what I mean. Apart from walking, the managers of the workshop also intended on not giving us any free time by any means necessary, so we were, overworked and exhausted, dragged all across the town once to play bowling, antoher time just to have a nice walk in nice evening weather (by nice I mean the typical London-ish “if it doesn’t rain, it rains” which was probably the motto of that week’s weather in Clausthal). A great idea on Tuesday evening was Potluck – a dinner contest in which the participants were expected to prepare their country’s typical meals and present them to the others, eating it all afterwards. We had lots of fun that evening, I must say. On Wednesday, a tour in a chemical company was prepared for us, a very interesting one, as the company was nothing else than Sympatech, which offers services in particle measurement, being a unique one on the market. On Friday night, we had a farewell  Chemistry-show, prepared by our manager, Mr. Franke (otherwise, a chemistry teacher).  We left on Saturday morning, visited Dresden on the way back, and after the long journey, came home, bringing lots of new knowledge, foreign friend contacts, but most importantly lots of new experience on how the things are in foreign countries. I certainly learned a lot, improved my language skills and also had a lot of fun, which is always important. I really loved to be a part of such a programme. To see how it all went, I am attaching a few pictures from the workshop.

Chemist in his natural habitat

And for the end, the whole crew!


Peter Hron 3.C

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