Report about the stay of Shine Wai Htun and Nyein Chan Htwe, aka Thomas and Tim, from April 20th until May 16th in Saarbrücken with the Forster – Granz family.






Shine Wai has been our sponsored son since 2006, he has just celebrated his 22nd birthday, and already is, together with Tim (21), junior teacher for math’s and English at PDO. He teaches at NTTC as well as in fast track classes.

Our invitation for the two was pronounced already a year ago because we wanted them to have enough time to prepare for Europe and Germany. These four weeks should not only be filled with touristic activities but first aim was for them to get to know many teaching methods at schools in the Saarland in order to be able to apply them back at PDO.

School partnership between PDO and Montessori comprehensive school has been existing for one year now. So it was self-evident to sign them on there. And what a welcome it was! Many thanks to Mrs. Omlor and the students of different age groups who accompanied the two wit care. They were enthusiastic about the diversity of methods in teaching and about the so called open learning at Montessori which gives students special opportunities to express themselves. They were also impressed by the fact, that in math’s everybody – teachers and students – were sitting on the floor. Unthinkable in Myanmar! Their comment: Respect for the teacher would forbid this – he must stand above the students.

More democratic teaching methods were only introduced by the Friends’ Association at PDO through NTTC, and it will take quite a while until all 7000 students will profit. In normal classes with up to 100 students, rote learning is still standard. The teacher says something first, then the students shout after him, even if they don’t understand anything. So they can’t practice their memory and they definitely cannot learn to understand.

Tim and Thomas are both members of the TEAM-project, an iniative of junior teachers at NTTC with the aim to take the new methods to the teachers of other rural monastic schools. They are looking forward to their service because they want to apply their new knowledge.

The teachers of Montessori Comprehensive on their part were very fond of their visitors, because suddenly, students from the Saarland started talking in English. So a learning place became a meeting place, to everybody’s advantage.

Our touristic venues were received with great curiosity. The Saarland pleases with Saarbrücken – how impressive Christian churches are for Buddhists! – Völklingen’s steel mill kept them in astonishment, the Cloef near Orscholz with its springlike nature really touched them. We told them about the larger region and how we live it. So we went to Metz, to Luxemburg, to the french canals and lakes and also to Paris in 1 hour and fifty minutes. The many pictures they took will keep their memory alive. Two things that astonished them most were the friendliness of our police and the extreme – in their terms – cleanliness of our towns, streets and rivers. Unfortunately, both are completely different in Myanmar. Police is military and you must stand at attention and submit and the omnipresent plastic waste and litter is hardly bearable for us, too. So the opposite must jump into one’s eyes!

Shine and Tim said farewell to us with a Buddhist ceremony to express their gratitude. What effect will their trip to Europe have on them in the long run? We will hear and tell about it.

Translation. Wolfgang Müller – Wind