Dittmar, 08. Aug. 2003, 11:52h (Wanderrudern)
IRISH EXCHANGE WITH RUDER-VEREIN OSTERHOLZ-SCHARMBECK
We are quite overwhelmed by the hospitality given to us since the very moment of arrival by the club and hostfamilies.
We have been very well looked after, fed, given drinks and treats at every turn.
The weeks programme has also been very well structured to draw the German and Irish youth together through their common interest in rowing. The interest in rowing and a common interest in having fun has led to great interaction between the two groups even at times if it was simply getting wet together to modify the very sunny days. Parallel to the rowing activities cultural activities have been carried out which informed the two groups of German and Irish lives. In some ways the lifestyles of the Irish boys and girls are very different but for the most part life is roughly the same.
The Commercial Rowing Club in Dublin is somewhat different in that it is based on the competitive sport of rowing, we do not have the opportunity the do tour rowing. The chance to explore the German countryside and rivers has been quite extraordinary. To see the network of rivers which feed into the Weser and the river itself which is a major highway has opened the eyes of Irish youth to the importance of the river system in Europe. The fact that in boats they became part of the river life will also stay with them. The fact that tour rowing is such an important part of the leisure activity for German urban youth has really made an impression on us. The boats from Ruder-Verein contain both boys and girls of varying ages and abilities.
The Irish youth come from an island on the periphery of Europe and although Dublin is a big city it is still isolated from the main landmass of the EU. It will be interesting for the German youth to experience the position of Ireland when they make a return visit. Life in Lower Saxony is more structured than the more laissez faire social environment that exists in Ireland. There are advantages and disadvantages to both social organisations which have become apparent to the visiting Irish youth. The visitors have also walked around Bremen and Osterholz-Scharmbeck and have witnessed the high standard of architecture and other positive aspects of the built environment. Germany has a longer tradition of urban living which is evident in the towns and cities.
What we hope this week has achieved is firstly strong friendships between the boys and girls and this is certainly evident. Also the mystique of the foreigner has been swept away simply by the great fun that they have had, both in the rowing and cultural activities. A return visit by the German group to Dublin and other parts of Ireland is planed. I am sure also that German members of the club will simply jump on a Ryan air plane, fly to Dublin and stay with their new found friends to learn English or listen to original Irish music.
Gerry Cantan, Captain