Project name:

Christmas host families

Project description:

Every year in fall we get ready for the Christmas time to come around. The days are getting shorter, people start decorating their houses and we start wrapping ourselves up in warm coats up to the tip of the nose. In 2013 the TU Dresden Welcome Center staff shared some Christmas experiences with international researchers and came up with the idea to hook them up with Dresden families for a close-up and authentic German Christmas experience. As for many researchers the Christmas time is somewhat melancholy, knowing all their beloved in their home country, they were excited about our plans. Spurred on by this encouragement we sent out emails to all our contacts looking for Christmas host families who were willing to meet up with one or a few guest researchers or even an entire family for a day in the pre-Christmas time. The response was amazing. We then asked our researchers for a few words about themselves and started to match up hosts and guests for a cookie baking session, decorating the Christmas tree, visiting one of the Christmas markets, having a winter stroll, joining a Christmas dinner or attending a concert. The offers were just wonderful and we could finally match 12 couples, thereby bringing about 50 people together. In the year 2014, the number has increased to 21 couples, resulting in meetings of more than 100 people all together. Many are keeping in touch and want to meet again.

Political science student Theresa invited Adriana, Yan and Taiba in early December 2014 to bake traditional shortcrust pastry cookies. Communication was handled “with a mix of German, English and with our hands and feet.” Adriana compliments on the opportunity of the experience, her hostess and fellow guests as “very special”, adding: “We talked about Christmas in Brazil, Pakistan and China and compared our traditions.” Theresa echoes her sentiments: “Over tea and biscuits, we exchanged Christmas traditions in Germany, especially in my family, and in their countries. The evening was over so quickly and we parted with the wish to meet again, cook for each other and find out even more about each others’ culture and traditions.” Adriana concludes: “At the end, although different, we realized that every culture seeks for the same things: the happiness of joining the company of our beloveds.”

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Lingen, Wen and the Herschels relaxing on the couch at their Christmas Day coffee table (Photo: Lingen)
Lingen, Wen and the Herschels relaxing on the couch at their Christmas Day coffee table (Photo: Lingen)