04 junho 2019

Training course on Emergency Pedagogy – a personal testimony

From crisis to chance, from Germany to Portugal, from anticipation to a great experience – that was my way to a week full of inspirations with a great community and a lot of learning! We started our week with a "Welcoming Aperitivo" in the first evening to get to know each other, to figure out from which of the eight countries we all came from and, even more important, what was our motivation to join this training course!

Moreover we got a short and interesting insight how the hosting organisation "SPIN" was established in "Bairro Padre Cruz", a suburb of Lisbon: an old, destructed primary school became a "social hostel" by the long and hard effort of lots of volunteers! A great community work, that ended up in a center for intercultural exchanges, training courses, study visits or for other social and educational  international activities!

Study visit of a local social organisation

As it used to be every day, we started the first morning with a morning circle. It had the impact to really get awake and to focuse the day and following activities. Specially one important phrase we did each morning I kept in mind: "The high sky above me, the firmed earth below me, the good spirit within me." - and actually it already was an important ritual of workers of "emergency pedagogy", the main topic oft he training course. This phrase is a  method to get grounded and to regain the control about the own body after a traumatic event.

This is only one example for a practical exercise of emergency pedagogy we learnt. We had a lot of workshops regarding arts and movement. I was wondering about drawings of traumatised children, in which the houses weren´t grounded anymore! They were kind of "flying" in the mid of the picture and only sometimes there was at least a leader to reach the ground from the house. These children had lost all there constancy in their lifes because of traumatic events and for example with restructered days, joyful moments, movements (e.g. playing with a ball in a special model or finger plays), music (e.g. singing together) and other kinds of arts (e.g. modelling, drawing) it´s possible to help most of them at least to get out of their first shock!

Ending: Opening of flowers
of wishes
In the everyday lessons of the founder of emergency pedagogy Bernd Ruf, we learned many theoretical backgrounds of what happens physically and psychologically after having experienced a traumatic event (such as nature catastrophies, war or severe illnesses) and how to overcome the state of shock. The key point is to rebuild the feeling of safety and to restructure the confused inner and external rhythms that got confused or even lost. A personal highlight for me was the visit of an other local social organisation of Lisbon which is engaged in youngster´s social inclusion and the personal interchange with refugees! Once more I deeply understood how important it is to be open to interact, work and share life with people of other countries and/or cultures and to help people in need! Of course this intercultural interchange took place among us as participants of the training course as well and I really enjoyed it! We discussed about political situations of our home country, issues in society and similarities and differences regarding our personal social work  respectively social/psychological studies or profession. This was even integrated in the program by an "Intercultural evening", where we shared food and special stories of our home countries.


I really hope all the participants will remain connected, developing and spreading the issues of emergency pedagogy in their local area as well as in an European network! Personally as I am working as a volunteer in a social project of my city, I will bring in the knowledge I got during this training course whenever it seems to be relevant. Moreover I will try to promote the concept of emercency pedagogy for example through a short presentation with practical input in an association where I worked in a project for social inclusion of refugeed children and families. As I am currently studying Psychology, I can also imagine to later work in the field of traumatology and emergency pedagogy and to get more trained in it by special courses. Future will let me know how to actually turn this in reality!:)

Finally I want to thank all the people who helped to organize and create this trainings course and all the participants, who were really open to share their experiences, knowledge and feelings and made it possible to create a great community!

Until we meet again…


by Bettina Schwarz

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