It was four years ago that Bernstorff-Gymnasium Satrup (bernstorffgym.de) (Bernstorff High School) in Flensburg, north Germany, did a complete unit on Canada in their Grade 12 English class.
The teacher, Miriam Bobzien, is an experienced and fluent English speaker who was tasked with preparing this class to write their “Abitur”, an examination students must take if they wish to go to University.
Miriam sent examples of student work back to Project of Heart, as well as a copy (in German,) of their free student magazine which includes a student’s reflections on doing the project. These Grade 12s were able to share what they learned in their classes with the rest of the student body, in their own words. Through them, we realize that German students are learning that Canada is not the country of “peaceful multiculturalism” they thought it was.
What was one of the most surprising things Miriam had to say about their journey with Project of Heart learning?
“We had a student from the USA, Montana, and he said he didn’t know anything about residential schools. He was astonished about what Canada does to bring about reconciliation because in the USA they still call the Native people there ‘Indians’. He said it was ironic that he had to come to Germany in order to learn about Indian Residential Schools.”
Miriam involved her students in a deep learning. Through the work of Indigenous literary greats such as Thompson Highway (“Hearts and Flowers”), IRS Survivor John Amagoalik (excerpt taken from Speaking my Truth. Reflections & Residential School), and Tantoo Cardinal and Thomas King (excerpts from Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada’s Past), Miriam’s students were able to listen to the voices of those who experienced Canada’s horrific legacy of cultural genocide.
Project of Heart wants to thank teacher Miriam Bobzien and the students of Bernstorff-Gymnasium Satrup for their involvement in Project of Heart. The stories from Canada’s once-hidden history continue to be told, even beyond our borders.