On Saturday, September 9th, ten exchange students from all over the world (Argentina, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Japan, Costa Rica) who a currently staying in Germany for one year met at the foot of Feldberg, the highest peak in the Black Forest, to spend one week in the nature reserve around the Feldberg. They were joined by five volunteers from the NGO Bergwaldprojekt (http://www.bergwaldprojekt.de/) and me, the organizer of the week.
The week was filled with outdoor activities rich in variety. Most of the time, we were working in the forest. Every day we got up at 6 am and left the hut that we were sleeping in after a great breakfast with self-made muesli at about 7.30 am.
Working outside the whole day we were able to get a lot done. We planted 1000 trees, repaired about 5 km of hiking paths, reinstalled about 1 ha of pasture area by cutting trees and cleaning it up and helped to maintain the habitat of the mountain cock.
All of the work was conducted with manual tools such as saws, spades and axes. During the day outside we had the chance to rest and chat during a breakfast and lunch break. We came back to the hut at about 5 pm and waited excitedly for each day’s dinner at 7 pm which was prepared by a cook and consisted of three courses. The food was amazing and all biological and vegetarian.
Apart from the work there were plenty of chances to learn about the forest, the nature reserve, plants and animals in guided tours through the reserve or from explanations during work.
In the evenings we listened to presentations about the situation of the forest in all the countries that the participants came from. It was very interesting to learn about the different environmental issues in all the countries that are, in fact, caused by exactly the same thing: our regardless behavior. After the presentations there was always time for games or chatting.
Besides working and learning about environmental issues there was also space for intercultural interaction. The exchange students had fun with the rangers, some apprentices and the volunteers from the Bergwaldprojekt. During the week all the participants with such diverse backgrounds grew together to a strong team.
The weather during the week was as diverse as the participants. Two days of sunshine and 25°C were followed by rain, thunderstorm and 10°C. But no matter which weather, we always continued working. During the last day we were lucky to have such amazing weather that we were even able to see the Swiss Alps more than 200 km far away from the peak of the Feldberg!
On September 15th we all had to leave the Black Forest again. The week had passed so fast that we all would have loved to stay one more week. But hopefully we will be able to organize more weeks of that kind and make some more unforgettable experiences
- Date: September 2012
- Location: Black Forest, Germany