Carolin Ellerkamp reports from her CEE Fellowship Programme

2022-02-20 Carolin Ellerkamp, former student assistant at ISDL, has been awarded the prestigious Civics and Environmental Education Fellowship from the North American Association of Environmental Education.

As of July 2021, Carolin Ellerkamp is one of 30 Fellows selected by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) as part of the first CEE Change Fellowship cohort. CEE stands for Civics and Environmental Education. Carolin is part of an international community of passionate educators working to build a just and sustainable future in environmental education through a collaborative civic engagement and environmental education project. Together with her partner organization Swaraj from India, Carolin is working on an intercultural and intergenerational project on water. For this, she is collecting interviews and stories from people from her grandparents' generation. Here, she tells us what she has learned so far from interviewing her own grandmother and interacting with students.

"My grandma is a very special person to me. She is the only one of my grandparents who is still alive and who I have really gotten to know at all, since all the others died before I was born or shortly after. She is also the reason why the contact to my mother's family is much closer than to my father's family. She is the center of our family. Before the interview, I wasn't nervous because I knew I was talking to my grandma. She knows me, I know her, we already have a family relationship as a basis of trust. The atmosphere during the interview was very relaxed and after the initial excitement on her side, we both very quickly forgot that there was a camera in the room, and she had a microphone on her sweater.

In some moments of the interview, I was very surprised and afterwards mostly grateful. Surprised to learn how in the past laundry was simply placed in the sun for bleaching, but also that they used to search for water with a dowsing rod and that she still uses her own groundwater - surprised how much I simply didn't know yet, or that it never occurred to me to ask. And grateful to have taken the opportunity to talk to her about water, grateful for her, grateful for the new knowledge and grateful for our very privileged position today and here in Germany to have very easy access to clean drinking water. We laughed, were thoughtful, serious, and then again happy and grateful. It was a conversation full of emotions, stories from the past, memories, and experiences. And I noticed very clearly how there was a little light in their eyes as they told it - a radiance, the visible reflection of days from the past.

And we continue to share these stories, including my grandma's story. Just before Christmas, I was a guest in two 10th grade geography classes at my former high school and spent each a double period discussing the topic of water with the students. Our project and the interview with my grandmother were indeed met with great interest and enthusiastic participation. After watching the videos, I encouraged the students to write down their thoughts about the videos and then share them in a large group. The participation was overwhelming, and we discussed the content of the videos for a long time. Many of them said that the video made them think a lot about their water consumption. Overall, the two double sessions were a very rewarding experience for me, I learned a lot, got great feedback personally and project wise, and collected a lot of qualitative data.

What I take away from this for the further course of my project: Life writes the best stories, from which you can learn an incredible amount, and how enriching is it then when other people share their stories with you?"