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The idea of the social internship originates from the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Fribourg (1992). The project was first called “Compassio” which means an attitude of “compassion.” The main aim of this internship is to raise awareness of the living conditions of other people, to practice an attitude of solidarity and empathy for one’s fellow human beings.
Although school intends to talk about “life” and “people,” practical experience which targets social action results can hardly be imparted. Crucial for a meaningful life, however, is not only the knowledge of the lives of others but also the shaping of life with other people. Upper School pupils try to participate in the lives of sick, disabled and old people as well as children and young people in difficult situations by working for a fixed period in hospitals, old people’s and nursing homes, homes for the disabled, institutions for the handicapped, social services, youth facilities as well as kindergartens and day-care centers.
The students should develop attitudes such as solidarity, cooperation, communication, and commitment to people who are dependent on the help of other people. They should get to know and understand the lives of old, sick, and disabled people better. In doing so, they should be allowed to get to know themselves in encounters with these people. Also, they should recognize the value of social institutions for our society and use the sum of their experiences as an aid to values orientation and personal development. The internship, therefore, does not primarily serve to find a career. If it contributes to clarifying a career aspiration, this is, of course, to be welcomed. The interns write and experience report about the internship. This report should primarily record personal impressions and experiences. It is not about a description of a professional field, but about the reflection of personal experience.
Since 2005, there has also been a four-week social internship at the Franziskus Gymnasium Nonnenwerth, which is binding for all students when they enter the Upper School.
As a school sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters, we draw our mission and our self-understanding from the Gospel as did Francis. The Franciscan guidelines from the “company philosophy” of our Gymnasium are the basis of our pedagogical activities. This includes respect and reverence for the dignity of every human being, the attitude of brotherhood towards all human beings, and the whole creation, as well as the commitment to the protection and development of human life.
Against this background, we educate young people to assume social responsibility in today´s society. That the time of this internship is incalculable for our students in its intensity of the experience is proven by the following original quotes from the internship reports of our high school students;
“It was frightening to see how some people are lonely and passively waiting for their death.”
“I was thrilled to see what else people with dementia can do.”
“I was impressed by how quickly you established a relationship with the people you cared for.”
“For me, it is sad to see that there is not enough time for the individual as such.”
“I was amazed at the little things you can make people happy.”
“I was deeply impressed by the fact that the nurses never lost their friendliness and patience with the residents, even if it was often difficult”
“My attitude towards euthanasia has changed.”
“I have learned to value my life as a healthy young person because in such an experience you realize how well placed you are.”
This collection of feedback from our students when asked what made a lasting impression on them during their social internship shows what new, different experiences are possible during the social internship, how attitudes of young people can change in the face of old, sick, disabled fellow human beings and what new perspectives are opened up for young people.
The two teachers Mrs. Kemmer and Mrs. Michels are responsible for the organization of the social practical course. Students should find their internship position and take responsibility for their applications and interviews. We are happy to support them, for example, by passing on a directory of addresses of charitable institutions (download area). Also, the pupils are taught about the organization and the course of the social internship, prepared for the work of the internship, and also supervised during and after the internship by their regular course leaders and religion teachers. For questions and problems please contact Mrs. Kemmer and Mrs. Michels.