Tolerance Debates at the White Sea
What does tolerance mean? This question was investigated in May by members of the intercultural media project mediA≡H in Arkhangelsk on the White Sea. This student initiative has been around since November 2004. Once a year either students from MLU travel to Pomor State University in Arkhangelsk in Northern Russia, or students from this partner university come to a workshop in Halle.
“The impetus came from the Russian side. We tried to approach this complex and very difficult topic of tolerance through media,” explains Elli Mack. Elli is in her tenth semester at the MLU and has been taking part ever since her time as a language assistant in Arkhangelsk in Autumn 2006. At the beginning, participants spoke about the term in a general way. “It quickly became apparent that we all have different ideas about its meaning. There were not only discrepancies between the Russian and German groups, but within each country’s group as well,” she explains. Therefore the 16 German and 15 Russian students decided to approach the notion through different forms of expression. Thus a short film, a podcast, a photo series, many blog articles and short improvisational plays performed on site were created during this time. “In particular the film group to which I belong tried to create a short film which gives the audience the opportunity to find out what tolerance means for them,” Elli Mack explains. On top of working in the individual groups, it was also about being together. We stayed with host families and experienced a lot in addition to the practical work,” Mack recalls. They attended short film evenings and discovered more about the country and its people through city tours during the day, excursions to the Malye Karely Open Air Museum or by visiting schools. “This trip was an indescribable experience! We laughed a lot, had a lot of fun, but we were still able to accomplish a lot,” says Halle student Vitalij Dajev who took part for the second time.
New members like Franziska Samos from Halle were also thrilled: “I can’t actually name one particular experience because everything I experienced with mediA≡H was great. One nice moment was the final evening in July at the Golden Rose in Halle where we were able to present our results. It was nice to see that ‘strangers’ were also interested in our project and work.” The project is funded by DAAD, StuRa, student councils and the MLU. The Association of Friends and Sponsors of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg e. V. sponsored the final presentation event for the third time.
Written by Silvio Kison