LAS in a Nutshell

Some literary impressions from the heart of the LAS writing factory!

 

Speech at the Graduation Ceremony 2017 

Dear students, dear members of the staff, dear families and friends; dear graduates!

Wow! You are here! You did it. Today, you officially graduate from the Liberal Arts and Sciences Programme in Freiburg. For that, we would like to congratulate you in the name of all LAS students!

Only last Wednesday we welcomed our new cohort to UCF. In our speech to them at the opening celebration, we tried to explain to them what studying LAS means using a slightly cheesy garden-metaphor, where the LAS program is a garden, in which every one is standing on their own little piece of soil. In that speech we mentioned you. We told them how inspiring it is for us to see, what you made out of this program and how much you seem to have learned. It is hard for us to tell how this program shaped you and how you as a cohort and as individuals developed throughout these years. But we see the result: you standing there on top of the LAS mountain with your diploma. You have gone where we want to go. And we can see and talk about how you shaped this program. You certainly left a lot of traces on your journey and smoothed the way for all the LAS generations that followed you.

Talking to some of you, we have the impression that this trail up the mountain at UCF was a lot foggier when you came here. As the second cohort, there were some footprints before you, but no one had ever gone to the top, no one even knew if there was one and what it could look like. We are impressed how you handled uncertainty and sometimes even chaos, and, ultimately, did not stop believing that this could be the right thing for you. You dealt with problems and you found solutions. From understanding the Stupo to writing a Bachelor thesis you managed to go your way and climb to the top. And even though there were obstacles, for you there was no limit on your way up. You saw the potential in this, you pursued your own academic interests and you created an environment where ideas can flourish and daydreams became true. We are talking about the students council.

In the preamble of the students’ council charter, our constitution,  it says: „the UCF Students Council  expresses the students’ right and desire for self-determination and carries the spirit of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and its hallmark explorative character into the extracurricular life of the students. It is responsible for establishing and maintaining a peaceful social environment within the UCF marked by the values of equality, tolerance, and responsibility.“

Hallmark explorative character – to us, that sounds like a very good description of something that is hard to describe. We can see this character in the cozy reading room, full of inspiring quotes, or looking at photos from field trips and seminars on our website. We can feel it, hitchhiking to Maastricht, dancing on LAS parties or simply sitting in the common room. We can also taste it, drinking punch and eating Lebkuchen with the staff at the directors’ punch.

And for that, we want to thank you. You leave behind a community that sticks together and flourishes full of ideas and hopes. You leave behind ideas that are beloved and structures that create more ideas. You inspire us, the ones coming after you, to reach for greatness and believe in finding our own way. No matter where you are heading now, you shaped this home, you shaped the ones coming after you and for that we are grateful. No matter where you go now, you will always be welcome here! Be it at the next hike, running dinner, jam session or camping, you are invited to join us and we will send you at least one more email, asking you if you want more emails from us.

Of course, we are also very curious to hear from YOU. Curious to know where you are going now. No matter if you continue studying right away, start working, take some time for traveling or do something entirely different, we are convinced that you have all the potential to get along in the world out there. LAS might not have taught you every single detail of every single topic, but it seems to have taught you how to make decisions, how to find your way and how to change your perspective. We are sure that you will succeed in your dreams and continue to impress and inspire the people around you. There are always challenges on the way, but you certainly learned to see them as chances.

We hope that you stay in touch with us and let us know how you are doing every once in awhile. We hope that when you look back at your time in Freiburg you think about friendship and community, about parties and celebrations, about creating great things and inspiring people. We hope that you look back on right decisions and wrong ones that turned out right. We hope you look back on great classes and interesting discussions, on interests that developed and things that worked out. We hope that you are able to look back and find many wonderful memories of your time here. We thank you for all that you did and wish the very best for everything ahead of you!

Welcome Speech to our 6th Cohort

Dear members of the staff, dear second, third and fourth years; dear cohort 6,

we are here to welcome you in the name of all LAS students!

A year ago, we were sitting where you are sitting now, excited to be part of this program and yet, nervous and unsure what would be lying in our future. While writing this speech, we looked back to last October and remembered how we felt, what we thought, and mostly, how many question we had. Will I make friends? What’s going on here? Is this study program the right one? Will I ever find out what interests me most? Am I going to be able to do this? But mostly, what actually does it mean to study LAS?

Now, a year later, we still cannot answer this completely, but we will try to at least give you an idea of what it could mean:

In the beginning, where you are right now, there is this feeling of being new, of standing on new and empty ground. Around you, what is supposed to be a beautiful garden one day, there is just soil. And while you are unsure of what is going to happen to this soil, around you there are the ones starting with you, each standing on their own little piece of soil. And this ground might vary from person to person and has different components, just the way everyone here brings different experiences, different languages and influences. But we are happy to see so many differences since they bear potential for greatness yet to come. And we are especially happy to see people from outside of Europe who came even though student fees suddenly are back in germany – at least for some.

But the same way your soil differs from each other, there are also connections already created: the English language, the desire to do this and to reach a goal, and the vague feeling of uncertainty. And the fact that you are all sitting here today, having chosen a path that is not as clear-cut as other areas of study, shows that you all have the kind of bravery required to succeed.

And you aren’t just left there, standing on naked ground, to figure out everything on your own. Throughout the next months, you will be getting the tools and basic techniques to know how to start to treat your soil. Core classes in the upcoming semester will teach you fundamentals of academic inquiry, the same way you have to learn how to treat plants and soil before you can start to create a beautiful garden. Some of your questions will be answered, but more will be created, varying from “What is knowledge?” to “Why is the word limit for this essay 1000 words? – that’s not nearly enough!”. You will ask for the why and the how and somewhere along the lines you’ll learn all the essentials; you’ll get prepared to create things on your own and to make your own choices.

After that, you can choose between several sets of seeds – The life science mixture, the governance pack, the Earth and Environmental Sciences Set or the Culture and History blend. You will get first ideas of what these seeds could develop into and whether you would actually like that to happen. You will see what seeds grow best on your very personal soil and what combination of plants you like best. You will come to like some formats, and be bored by others. You will have some favourite plants and others maybe stay there for only one semester, but then at least you know more about them. You can also acquire some more gardening techniques, which might range from ethnographic methods to statistical analysis. And then, in the third year, some of the LAS gardeners go abroad to discover some more exotic flora, others stay in Freiburg and find rarities here.

All of that sounds like a smooth process, but of course it can bring challenges, doubts and insecurities with it. Different soil is prepared and ideal for different plants and not all of you will enjoy the same classes. You might have difficulties where others have no problems, or excel where others struggle. As we all come with different abilities and different backgrounds, some things might be easier while some are more difficult. But you will find the set of seeds that works for you and then decide which of these seeds should have more room and which should have less. Some of you might already know how their plants are supposed to look, while others might change their set of seeds. Over time, you will learn how to come to a decision, you might appreciate structure when it is given to you and might love freedom whenever it presents itself to you.

And over time, with patience and trust, the first plants will start to grow and first developments can be seen. The goal will become clearer and the result more tangible. Next Saturday it will already be the second time that a generation of LAS students graduates from the University College Freiburg and it is inspiring to see what beautiful gardens they have cultured. Once they were where you are now, but they decided on a set of seeds and went their way and now their time in our garden has come to an end. But they leave their plants and leave some traces, footprints in the soil, a beautiful flower here and there, a sense of belonging in the garden. They shaped the study program you are beginning and their presence can be found in many rules, ideas and decisions. But the LAS garden, such as the LAS program, is young, and there is still a lot of space left. This space is waiting for you, to be shaped by your thoughts and decisions, to be influenced by who you are now and who you will become. LAS gives you the opportunity to leave traces and prepare the soil for coming generations; it gives you the opportunity to actually influence your time at the University. Use this opportunity to leave your own footprints.

And throughout your time here, you will not be alone. As of now, you are part of a community, our LAS family. You will get help from the UCF staff members, you will be inspired by your lecturers and you will be supported in this time by everyone. And the way a garden community exchanges ideas and helps each other, your fellow students will be with you throughout every step of the process, aspiring to create a piece of the garden themselves. In them you might find help, inspiration, competition, reflection, study buddies and a support network; and most importantly, friends. And maybe, together you will be able to find out, what studying LAS means for you.

We are excited to see who you will become, which decisions you will make and how you will shape this program. But most importantly, we are excited to get to know you and to welcome each and every single one of you to LAS!

Speech at our 1st Graduation Ceremony

Dear friends and members of the University of Freiburg, dear current and former staff of the University College Freiburg, dear families and most importantly, dear graduates,

On behalf of the studentscouncil, I would like to congratulate you on your bachelor degrees. You did it. You did, what we still have to accomplish.

You started this programme four years ago, excited about the journey ahead and possibly a little bit nervous. A few challenges lay ahead, one being how to explain what you are studying to other people. In the following years you would explore subjects ranging from Narrating Animal Minds to Maths and Physics and you had space to discover that very topic that you were passionate about.

You might have been lost at times, but you did not give up. You didn’t give up the belief that “this all is good for something” and you might have learned a lot about the relativity of beliefs but this was one that stayed around and turned out to be very true. We fast forward four years and here you are, holding your Bachelor degrees in your hands, carrying a smile and possibly little tear.

In 2015, Dr Teun Dekker gave a guest lecture at UCF, called “Democracy, Discourse and Philosophy: Do politicians earn too much”. I have to apologise, Dr Dekker, much of what you lectured about had to be pushed out of my brain to make some space, but one sentence you said, resonated with me: Liberal Arts and Sciences does not teach you what to think, it teaches you how to think.

las-graduation-nika

Liberal Arts and Sciences might be difficult to explain and it seems a bit vague at times. But it does give you space to explore how to think. If you look back at your pre-LAS time you realise that the years at UCF might have changed who you are. First, all your beliefs were scratched, then you learned how to approach and break down complex problems. Next, you were able to form beliefs again but this time, you had used the heuristics that LAS gave you to come to your conclusions.

However, I am sure that you have heard a lot about LAS in the past years, days and hours and so the only one thing left and I am positive all fellow LAS students agree, on behalf of them and heart-felt, I would like to say thank you.

In many ways, we are here because of you. You, just like our lecturers were our teachers.

Thank you for laying the foundation for an active and close students’ body. You taught us that flat hierarchies amongst students were desirable and you were the ones to first establish a close staff student community including the Christmas punch, Feuerzangenbowle and Peterhof celebrations. This community is something which makes us unique and which is valued so very much.

Thank you for showing us that, yes, it is perfectly fine to take classes in social psychology, political philosophy and human anatomy simultaneously. You showed us that our interests are not set in stone – they develop and, yes, sometimes they happen to switch lanes.

Thank you for being so very engaged at UCF. The committees you founded – Global Order and Outreach, Ecoalas and Open Space, let alone the engagement for the reading room, we’ll make sure to keep the spirit in our hearts.

Thank you for shaping the programme for us and with us. For searching debate and change. You are our role models and you give us hope that we when we finish this programme, we will have an answer to the so often asked “and what are you actually going to do with that Liberal Arts thing?”

It is now time to start a new chapter which might be titled Oxford, gap year in Chile or working for a feminist NGO. And we, your fellow students could not be more excited on how it turns out. We hope that you will continue to shape your environment in the way you did with us, we hope that you continue to thrive and inspire those around you and of course, we hope that you will look back at UCF, that you will look back at Freiburg and be content.

Dear graduates, we wish you all the best for the future.

Welcome Speech to our 5th Cohort

So, last night, we were sitting down together, we had a couple of bailey’s (maybe a few more), and we thought.. right.. let’s write that speech now. Our aim was to inspire each and everyone in this room and to motivate you for the journey that is yet ahead of you. But procrastination is every student’s biggest foe. A 2000 word essay on HLA Hart’s Notion of Natural Law within Positivist Theory might have been easier. We sat across from each other, an empty word document in front of us and thought to ourselves – how did we even get here?

The question resonated with us and we realised that it was no longer just about saying a few welcoming words at the opening celebration. It was about you and me, and about all of you out there for whom we so desperately wanted to write a speech. How did we get here? Where are we going? Who is coming along? Will we have company at all on this road?

nikame

The time at UCF is a very special part of the road that you are on. We all took a couple of rights and a couple of lefts and found ourselves sharing the same little bumpy stretch. And just like the construction work in front of the library, the road is not yet complete. Here we are, walking it and making it. Our first cohort, the ones to find the road in the first place are graduating. Now here you are, sitting in this room, exactly where they started four years ago.

Back then, before our times – it’s hard to believe but there wasn’t even a road yet, just bits of sand, gravel and dust – different components that were put together to mark the path.

The grains of dust like the core modules… you’re not really sure what they are all about at the beginning.. but just how dust settles down, they form the base upon which the program is founded and you start to see the path more clearly.

 

 

Then came the soil with its courses in Earth and Environmental Sciences, exploring ideas of sustainability in development and biodiversity. Just like flowers and trees that populate the path and like the very city that we are in, they make everything a little bit more green.

Sand, like little grains of time, telling tales of days gone by and civilizations past, became Culture & History which justified bingewatching 107 episodes of youtube vlogs for the sake of writing a 1000 word essay. (#tvmajor)

The stones were like Governance, here to teach us about the unflexible nature of bureaucracy, for the sake of efficiency to maintain a rock-solid democracy. Time and time again it tried to convince us that social sciences are afterall a hard science.

And like wind and water, dynamic forces carving the way for scientific development, Life Sciences laid the foundation for exploring the human consciousness and life itself at a cellular level.

Together they constitute the road that we are all on. Each component is unique in itself and yet they complement each other in its interdisciplinarity and diversity. And certainly, something would be missing on the road if they weren’t there.

But let’s back up a little bit. Earlier we mentioned the first generation of LAS students who is officially leaving UCF on Saturday. In many ways they are at a similar stage as you – with a new path ahead of them and new roads waiting to be shaped. While they have their own sets of challenges to meet, there are many at the UCF at different stages of their journey.

There are the fourth years, their lives orbiting around BA thesis dates and courses to check off the eternal list of modules to be completed before graduation. They are returning to Freiburg a little bit nervous but still very excited that the road is not over yet.

The third years are currently on different side trips all around the world – from the busy hub of Hongkong to the cold, misty mornings in Quebequois Canada – they are traveling, learning and experiencing terrain quite different to Freiburg.

The Second Years have by now grown accustomed to the ways of the city – whether it is the mild weather, the long mensa lines, or the after 10 alcohol curfew at the supermarkets. Of all the liberal arts students, some are still wandering, some have switched paths and decided that soil is actually much more interesting than stone, and others have explored parts and paths of themselves they never knew existed.

And most importantly, you, the first years. You still don’t know about the poor dinosaur that died on a Tuesday and that epoche is the answer to all of your questions but don’t worry – everything will be ok. You complete us. You will be able to choose whether you find stones or sand more interesting. You took some lefts and some rights and here you are, beginning your road that is liberal arts and sciences and we would like to warmly welcome you to LAS. There is not much to say except for a few words of advice on how to walk the road.

Just as two wrongs don’t always make a right, two fails don’t make a pass and two absences count as a fail.

If you run out of food, peanut butter cheese carrot sandwiches are a good idea. (a great idea)

There is no such thing as a secret romance… the common room has ears!

And quoting mean girls is still socially acceptable. “Ex-boyfriends are off limits to friends. That’s just like the rules of feminism.”

But most importantly, the path of Liberal Arts and Sciences is still young. For one, it exists thanks to those that walked it in the first places, lecturers and students alike. They are the ones that realised that stones and dust and soil are actually incredibly interesting and build upon each other. And they are also the ones that can help you sift through it.

And the path also exists because of you who have dared to walk it with us. Don’t worry, you are not alone. You are sharing this journey with your fellow students. You can look left and you can look right, to find great friendships, interesting debates and thriving minds.

You are walking this road and by doing so you are shaping it. Every step you take makes a mark for those that are yet to follow. You may explore and develop it in the way you believe is best because every footprint is unique. Inspire and be inspired. We hope that you are excited about what is yet to come. We certainly are. And as Jack Kerouac said: Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road. Welcome to LAS!

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Welcome Speech to our 4th Cohort

You woke up one morning in your cupboard under the stairs, haunted by nightmares of lecture halls filled with Dudleys – big ideas in your head and magic in your heart. It was probably not your 11th but your 20th birthday when an owl suddenly dropped that one letter on your doormat, inviting you to join the greatest School of Liberal Witchcraft and Wizardry Germany had ever seen. You scraped together your Gringots-Gold, equipped yourself in the Diagon Alley, flooded the dormitory market with innumerable heartbreaking letters, and beat your head against the wall of platform 9 ¾.1

Two months later, you all have made it to this great hall where the first three generations are curiously waiting for you. Over the past three years, this community has grown and flourished. Together, magicians from all over the world fought for the protection of hippogriffs, stood up for the rights of the imprisoned in Azkaban, and cultivated alruunas in front of the city theatre. Field trips to Hogsmeade saw exciting events, incidents and accidents. Countless friends were made, butter beer was turned into love potions, and 12 romances were spotted. Magical things happen when similar mindsets unite. No matter if it you want to stray around the corridors at night, sneak out with the Marauder’s Map, or get lost in the depths of the forbidden forest – there is always company when seeking memorable adventures.

   Your fellow Wizards, Witches and Trans-magicians are one-of-a-kind – and so is the castle that you shall come to explore and make your new home. The common room will tantalize you with its cozy atmosphere and indulging aroma of freshly brewed potions. Between the hidden treasures of the reading room, you will find students hastily dipping their feathers into inkpots, trying to finish their parchment papers before 23:59. In the great Mensa hall, choosing a dish sometimes feels like picking one of bertie bott’s every flavour beans – you never know what you are going to get.

The real magic, however, happens inside the classrooms. Nourished by the lecturer’s rich input, ideas are exchanged and visions shared. Passionate discussions are fought with drawn wands, and sometimes you may even have to dodge a verbal bludger. Opinions differ, and so do our four Houses.

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If you love data, details and new discoveries, seek special knowledge whilst dancing along the borders of the unknown, you should raven Simon Blitwick’s expertise and claw your way to the Life Sciences House.

If your element is the earth, your forte herbology and your goal sustainable development, then you’re probably the right one to huff and puff into Sabine Sprout’s House of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

If, however, you dare to take a look into the pensieve in order to discover the past and understand the present, and your passions drive you to unusual paths, then you should ride on your Griffin through the door of Ryan McPlummagall’s Culture and History House.

Ultimately, if you are fascinated by the powerful Dark Arts of Politics, willing to fight for your ambitions but have little patience for the incompetence of others, then you might want to slither in LiudneverusSnapalayeva’s House of Governance.

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No matter to which house the sorting hat assigns you to, your great freedom of choice will always go along with uncertainties. When ceaselessly moving staircases turn familiar routes into labyrinths, you may feel disoriented or nearly headless. Remember that sometimes the little twists and turns make your journey even more colorful. So, do yourself a favor – don’t let the stress dementors get you, ask your prefects for help, have a butter beer – have a butter beer with your prefects.

You are starting a new chapter of your life, so – wands at the ready! Be courageous and fill the empty pages of your diary. Get to know one another, engage yourself and shape this program. You are now part of it. You are our fourth cohort, so thank you for finally making us complete.

Welcome, LAS Students 2015!4

©Rebekka Deuse & Patrick Gross

A poem

One year of Liberal Arts rewind’
A program innovatively designed
Combining studies of several kind
Intended to create a habit of mind

It is based on four old and honorable houses
Which are assigned by the Sorting Hat
Or the three year old majors of L A S
And what the mandatory introductions beget

For once, there is Governance
Teaching students commonsense
Followed by Life Simonces
Connecting cells to consciousness
Then Earth and environment
Prolonging natures retirement
Lastly,  Culture and History
Unraveling men made mystery

But let us not forget the Core
Challenging our ideals is more than decor
And no I don’t mean the liberal heart
Not the party, but the true innermost part
Where we explore complex background knowledge
And share our problems with the university college
However the clear reflective enterprise might become muddy
When we ask why, John Dewey study

Have you ever awaited the weekend, yawning?
In a lecture at eight in the morning
I had a dogmatic slumber, you too?
Ever felt lost like Robinson Kruso?
Have you ever asked
Why the knowledge taught in class
Kant often be applied?
But if you wonder when the last dinosaur died
If you have that problem Gettier
For a class of Epistemology
A synonym for Scientology
The answer to episteme
I believe is epoche
However you can decided to still be naive
Or if you want descarted your believe
But cogito ergo sum leaves ya
Only with deus ex machina

For the less complicated why’
That can be easily calculated by
Statistics there is DE EN EI
It taught me that women like beards
How to properly measure beers
The location of all my rich peers
And which questions are for R
Unfortunately, where we are so far, nah
Amiss is the statisical analysis
When directions are only for hypothesis

Where are we
Between committees and commitment
Between deadlines and Life Sciences
Between minor and major problems
Between LAS affairs and laissez-faire
Between time passing by and goodbye time
Between fair well and welcome week
Between going abroad and staying on board

In this life
What can we bargain for, its fast and quick
We had the metaphor of castle and ship
Are ruins alongshore now, our masts are stripped?
No we are full power
We are a commodore, with vasts to skip
And the castle, evermore, shall lasts the tip
Of its highest tower
But more than before, we are asked to grip
The oars and the steer to new shores.

In dungeon and brig
As of now question and doubt
About progression in route
Will be used freshening out
The accumulated LAS ballast
So we can build a spaceship or a palace
Here is my pick

Sometimes I do feel like John Snow
How do i do APA-citation?
Why do my believes need justification?
What is it then that implies causation?
Where and when can i find my vocation?
But there is a culmination:
Nicholas, what does the fox know?

©Paul J. Grünsch

Farewell Speech to our former Director of Education, Nicholas Eschenbruch

Today we have come together to say goodbye to our captain. It’s been four years since he was endowed with the honorable task of leading a difficult mission. The plans of a pioneering spaceship had to be designed, the construction supervised. But a ship is not a ship without a crew. He hired experts from all around the globe – astronauts and cosmonauts – each responsible for one specific task, including technological transformations, cultural exchange with aliens, intergalactic relations and the agri-special cultivation of radish seeds.

Under his supervision, and admittedly with the advice of the “Universal Critical Mothership” (UCM), a spaceship came into existence, a spaceship as no one had ever seen it before. Nicholas, you brought us all together on this well equipped ship. You filled the fuel tanks and, you selected the first active explorers who would not only cope with the open space, but thrive in it. To create a community that was bound together by an insatiable curiosity not for the world, but for the universe.

And so it happened that our ship, the “United Complex Freedom”, (UCF) was finally ready for take off.

All eyes laid on this extraordinary endeavor, all attention was directed towards the launch of this rocket. Huge expectations and uncertainties lay ahead of us. Would the rocket explode right after the start or would we survive this critical phase and successfully enter into open space? How would the contact to our base station, the Albertina-Ludoviciana work out? How would we navigate through asteroid belts and andromeda haze? How would we cope with the complex problems we would encounter on our journey? And how would we escape the black hole of ignorance?

Three years have passed since then. Three years of struggle, excitement and inspiration. Three years in which you successfully set the course. Crowded together, people usually tend to lose their temper in the limited space of an intergalactic vessel. However, you set the conditions for a great community spirit. And it was not only your punch that was on fire but also your crew’s creativity. Ideas flourished, projects were realized and no star seemed to be too far to be reached.

Your navigation skills saved us from colliding with asteroids and dwarf planets. When one of the young explorers was at risk of getting lost in the icy depth of space, you gave advice and orientation. You created paths where there were none and forged ways within the rigid laws of the galactic alliance charter. You challenged the system and raised your laser sword against the bureaucratic kraken. This journey left its mark on all of us. Fitting for a captain, you grew a beard. And even though there was no atmosphere in the physical sense anywhere near us, the atmosphere within the ship was one of respect and collaboration. Together, we shaped this ship.

When we invited guests from foreign galaxies and asked for money – you said yes. (under the following  conditions)

When we asked for the integration of space refugees at the UCF – you said Yes. (under the following

conditions)

When we offered a compromise for the attendance rules regulations, you said – No.

You are not an unconditional yes sayer. Neither are the explorers you selected. Roles and responsibilities had to be negotiated. And yet you valued our opinion and included us in you mission briefings.

On this ship we call our intellectual home, the talents of your ambitious explorers lead to both inspiration and competition amongst them. It was you who always reminded us of the value of leisure and reflection. And this is precisely what we wish you for the future. Maybe you will share a cigarette with the Man in the Moon, surf the milky wave or write a paper on an alien tribe yet to be discovered. Come what may, you will remain part of this journey. Your spirit is in the flight system and the space lab, it is alive in the crew and every young explorer.

Thanks to you, our space ship has almost reached its orbit and there is no need to worry about it going astray. As from now on we will go separate ways and we hope you will think of us from time to time on your hitchhiking trip through the galaxy. One never knows, maybe we will see you again in another space, time or dimension.

Dear Nicholas, You have brought us a long way and we are incredibly thankful for that.

So may the force be with you!

©Rebekka Deuse, Patrick Gross & Max Fischer

Welcome Speech LAS Students 2014

One year ago, we stood where you stand now. Eager, Excited, and more or less ready to board LAS – this ship sailing into the open sea.

In the beginning, we were overwhelmed by the vast ocean of possibilities that lay ahead of us. We traded the firm ground for the swaying of the deck beneath our feet.

We knew that a ship is safest in the harbour, but that’s not what ships are built for. So we left for somewhere yet unknown. There were no riverbanks to guide us, and no borders we could hold on to, except perhaps for the horizon. And even this silver lining vanished as soon as we approached it. You need only climb the mast to see it change and broaden. It seemed that there was no land in sight.

The only hope we had were the shining stars above. We could believe in them. These ever-fixed marks of unknown origin gave us comfort, but they did not yet help us find our way.

Over the course of time, however, the ship’s officers supplied us with  instruments, and we learned to not only admire the stars, but to navigate with their help. The officers taught us methods so we could trust not only in the stars, but in ourselves.

As you are now, we were warmly welcomed by the first generation of sailors which had already been traveling on board for a year. When we arrived, they had refilled the supplies, prepared our cabins and scrubbed the decks.

Confronted with the duties, difficulties and pleasures of a voyager’s life, all of us soon formed a lively crew and more than one soulmate was found in the middle of the ocean. At least 6 romances were observed on board. We discovered the freedom of lawless territory, and we acknowledged the need to form our own laws.

Assignments and tests were only some of the pirates who tried to steel our free time, but we had cannons on board, and we fired words and arguments at them until they could persist no longer.

From time to time, experienced captains, mighty adventurers and well-travelled cartographers joined us on our journey and gave us advice and direction. They provided recommendations, lectures and speeches on our decks, and set the fire of aspiration in our hearts.

Close trading links were established too with the old seafaring nation of the Netherlands. Well-equipped ships from Maastricht supported us on our voyage, and we visited them in their home port.

Our ship carried many of the older sailors towards foreign harbors. They will stay there for a year to retrieve yet unknown treasures of knowledge. LAS outposts are being established all over the world.

We do not only want to spread across the world, but every courageous sailor from any part of the world is welcome upon our deck!

Now you arrived, and once again, the ship has been polished, expanded and refurbished. We added a third sail to carry all of us along, and you will be the ones to set it.

Together, we will witness stormy days, and drunken nights on our ship. Sometimes the wind will carry you, and sometimes you will need to pick up the row yourself. But be assured: you can always count on the rest of the crew beside you.

One of the hardest challenges to come will be that of orientation. With nothing but water around you, you will often not know where to go. You will have many opportunities to choose new courses and it will not be an easy choice, for each course withholds its own benefits and difficulties. Some intellectual streams will carry you along and others you will observe only in the passing.

While we all make our own choices and experiences, we are all part of this expedition. Every crew member shapes this ship. So take this opportunity; set colourful sails! carve your notes into the railing! Whenever you encounter a leak, fix it with your knowledge. Leave your mark. Take over the steering wheel and be part of our crew!

Welcome on board, LAS students 2014!

©Charlotte Kersting & Max Fischer