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Projektwoche 2020

Culture Days Main Elective Subject English (3BD) September 21st to 25th, 2020

Though we missed the opportunity to explore New York this year due to the Covid epidemic, we were still able to enjoy five amazing days together here at home in Switzerland, discovering what our country has to offer in the way of Anglophone culture and literature. The students of the course came up with many great ideas and with the support of our school administration, we were able to explore the breadth and depth of English in various Swiss contexts.

Monday, September 21st
As we will be analyzing assorted Netflix series along the linguistic lines of politeness theory, we were grateful that we had the opportunity for a workshop with Prof. Miriam Locher from the University of Basel’s English Department. We learned about relational work in fiction and how we construct our identities through politeness actions, either through appearance or language.  Additionally, we were able to try our hand at this form of analysis on various cartoons and the film ‘Erin Brockovich’ using techniques such as face of the addressee, density of network, sequences of actions and persistence. Though we are not quite yet experts in politeness theory, we are confident that we will be able to put our newly found skills to use for our upcoming linguistic presentations. 

Tuesday, September 22nd
On Tuesday, 22.09.2020, we all went to the Cartoon Museum to take a tour and do a workshop. There was an exhibition about the works of Brecht Evens, a 32-year-old comic artist from Belgium, who published his first comic “The Wrong Place” (2009) that gained him a lot of respect and awards. The exhibition, which is currently on display in the Cartoon Museum, is called “Night Animals” and can be visited until 31.01.2021. When we arrived, we were greeted by a museum employee and she gave us a tour of the museum and the exhibition. On every floor, a different aspect of Evens’ work was displayed and it was all very colorful and beautiful to look at. On the ground floor, some pieces of his works were on display and you could see that Evens likes to portray nightlife and parties. On the first floor, it was the work of his book “The Making Of''. It was rather light in color. On the second floor, we could have a little insight into his recent book, “Panther”, a story about a little girl and her imaginary friend, the panther that appears out of her sock drawer. The colors were all bright, but muted, and mainly featured red, blue and green and yellow, depending on where the girl was. On the third floor, his book “The City of Belgium” was shown. It is a story about the nightlife of a selected few characters. That one was one of our personal favorites, as it was colorful and dark and captured the essence of a chaotic evening where one does not know what is going to happen next. Overall the experience was very interesting, and we can highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 23rd
On Wednesday afternoon we went to the Mathis Hof on the Bruderholz in Basel. There we saw some farm animals such as pigs, cows, chickens and a Bernese Mountain dog, who was absolutely adorable. We also petted the animals. The farm is known for its extravagant pumpkin selection. This was also a reason we went there because the presentation was on Halloween and what to do with pumpkins and a Halloween theme? Of course, pumpkin patching! But before we did that, we went into the corn labyrinth which the farm has open from July to October. The presentation that was held was about the American influence on Swiss culture with the example of Halloween. This was an interesting topic because we did not grow up in an American based culture, even though we are a generation which grew up in the era of globalization and digitalism, therefore, we were more influenced by it than previous generations. The presentation informed us about how we in Switzerland see and celebrate Halloween but it also talked about the origins of this holiday.

Thursday, September 24th

Olympic Museum Lausanne
Thursday morning we went to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. It was in a really nice location right at the lake. We were pretty impressed by the scale of the building. In the museum we received an electronic tour “device” for the museum. The museum was not really a collection but more a representation of the global competition. It wanted to portray the idea of fighting in a respective sport to be the best in the world. It did this by showing the history of Olympic sports. There were many short clips and interactive media to learn from, and also the physical items shown to view up close. Most impressive were the clothes of athletes, dating to differing times and from different disciplines. Nearing the literal finish line of the museum, they had different activities for the visitors to test themselves and compare to olympic athletes, such as a skiing simulator and a BATAK pro reaction test. All in all it was a very informative but also fun visit, and we would definitely recommend going there.

Kentucky Fried Chicken
On Thursday morning right before noon, we went to KFC in Lausanne, which is one of the few places where we have a KFC in Switzerland. The KFC is located on Place de l’Europe in the center of Lausanne. We then had a presentation which gave new insights into KFC, the fast food culture of the United States in general and especially the issues connected to it such as obesity, low-wage employment, cheap food quality and the ecological impact. For example, we learned about how fast food companies portray themselves in ads and how they are trying to get us to eat their food, even though we know it is not healthy food. They do that by using very strong colors such as green which stands for healthy food and many water drops on the vegetables which makes them seem fresh. We also learned how most of the low-wage employees in the US are employed by fast food companies and, therefore, supporting low wages, or how the low quality of the products makes them easier to afford and really cheap, which is one of the main reasons for obesity in the US, or how fast food companies use up so much meat which makes their ecological footprint look far from good. At the end of the presentation we played a great board game testing our newly acquired knowledge about the aforementioned issues. After the presentation, we had lunch. Sadly, there is no vegetarian option at KFC so many of us could not eat at KFC. But maybe that is not such a bad thing, as the food is not truly healthy.

Charlie Chaplin World in Vevey
After KFC, we spent a very nice afternoon in the Charlie Chaplin World in Vevey. Charlie Chaplin lived and died in Vevey. We heard an interesting presentation about his life and especially about his speech “The Great Dictator”. One can take the title and symbolize it with Adolf Hitler. Charlie Chaplin took Adolf Hitler as an example and he tried to explain how Hitler led Germany. Charlie’s speech does not support Hitler and because of that the movie with the speech was forbidden in Germany and in many other European countries. Another reason for the ban was that Hitler was painted in a ridiculous manner. The setting of the movie is in a fantasy country called Tomania. Tomania sounds like Germania. Another reason for the name was the chemical term Ptomain=Leichengift. It was totally unexpected that Charlie, as a comedian, took this deep topic for his movies. During the presentation ‘Charlie Chaplin’ visited us and shared some insights into his life.

Freddie Mercury and Queen – Montreux
After visiting the Charlie Chaplin World in Vevey we took the bus to Montreux. Unfortunately, it started to rain, but the view of the lake of Geneva was still beautiful. As we arrived, we went to the Casino Barrière de Montreux because in the building there are not only gambling machines but also the legendary Mountain Studios where Queen recorded, amongst others, its last album “Made in Heaven”. Stars like David Bowie or the Rolling Stones have used the studio as well. In the studio there is an exhibition about the rock band Queen. But first, the presentation about Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, was held in front of the casino. Queen was or is a very popular British rock band. Famous songs of theirs include “We Will Rock You”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “We are the Champions”. Freddie Mercury, as the front man, had a difficult life and he suffered from AIDS. This was also the cause of his early death. In the exhibition, we looked at Mercury’s extravagant costumes, albums and musical instruments. Furthermore, we could enter the actual studio with a music switchboard and experiment with some songs ourselves by changing the sound and beat.

Frankenstein – Montreux
On Thursday late afternoon, we went to see the Lake in Geneva and we looked at the landscapes. The weather was pretty cold and rainy. In fact, we had to use umbrellas in order to not get wet. The clouds were grey and the water of the lake was quite rough, and the waves collided slightly on the rocks. The mountains that surrounded the lake also had grey shades. Seeing the landscapes that Mary Shelley described in her novel was quite breath-taking. After seeing the view, we realized the reason why she decided to pick Lake Geneva as an inspiration for one of her well-known novels ‘Frankenstein.’ She includes the weather, as well as the environs of Geneva, such as the gates of the city. She explains the weather, and she describes the place in which William was killed and a boat that had to pass the lake and arrive at Plain Palais. She also describes the lightning on the summit of Mont Blanc, as well as other features of the weather there. As we could see, she chose Geneva’s environment for ‘Frankenstein’ since it was so impressive and beautiful allowing her to put the description of the places as well as her feelings into the novel.

Bild Legende:
Lac Léman

Friday, September 25th

Neues Museum Biel
On Friday, September 25, our class went to Biel to visit the “Neues Museum”. It was a rainy day and most of us were still a bit exhausted from our trip to Lausanne the day before, but we were all excited, nonetheless. It took us quite some time to find our way to the rather nondescript house that does not look like a museum at first glance. We were welcomed very warmly and shortly after found a lovely space to attend the presentation of two classmates on “How the Swiss Made label was and is sold in Anglophone cultures as proof of quality and wealth”, using Swiss watches as an example. The museum features exhibits on several topics like art, archeology, culture in the 19th century as well as watches, suiting the topic of the presentation that day. After the presentation, we got some more time to look around and afterwards went back to the city center to spend our lunch break there before we caught a train back to Basel.  We all enjoyed the trip very much!

Bild Legende:
Neues Museum Biel
Bild Legende:

Virtual New York in Basel
On Friday afternoon we were able to go to the Virtual Reality Center in Basel and take a virtual tour of New York to make up for us not being able to physically go there due to Covid-19. Although we were sad we were not able to go, we truly enjoyed the Virtual Reality experience, especially because most of us have never experienced it before. After taking a tour of virtual New York and being able to visit several landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Central Park, we were able to play a virtual car racing game. To conclude this experience, the employees prepared an aperitif for us, consisting of chips and other snacks. In this way, we could end our Anglophone accented culture days right here in the heart of Basel, tired, but full of new knowledge and happy.