Teacher Focus Bede's Berlin

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Hamish Haldane Modern Languages Teacher

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Henrik Rohmer
Head of Modern Languages, St Bede’s School

Henrik is an experienced trip leader, doing most of the planning and organising himself in the past. However he turned to us for St Bede's Berlin trip and was delighted with everything. Students called it a "highlight of their time at St Bede's". We are working together on an exciting Prague & Dresden trip for 2013 and in the meantime the school will go to Florence in October. 

TCBC: Hi Henrik, how did you end up teaching in England?

Henrik Rohmer: Well, I am from Dresden and I just ended up in Britain because I always wanted to be a foreign language teacher. I always thought it quite exciting to teach your native language abroad as a native speaker.

TCBC: What do you teach?

HR: I teach German but History has always been my big field of interest and I read a lot of historical books, watch lots of documentaries. As part of my university degree, some modules, within the English and American literature course I took, dealt with history and the historical background. When I organise trips I always work closely with the History Department because I believe this is one way to widen your trip target audience.

TCBC: How did you discover TCBC?

HR: I remember that you contacted me by email and we initially discussed a trip to Cologne, but then we decided to go for Berlin.

TCBC: Why did you choose to travel with us?

HR: I got the impression from the start that I could work with you in terms of getting what I wanted from the trip and that’s why I chose to go ahead with you. What I wanted to do with the Berlin trip was to really take the elements of going abroad for the historical, educational value and combine it with lots of activities such as sporting events and interesting cultural things to fill the students’ spare time making it a really good trip. I had the impression that with your company I could really do these things and get it all under one roof basically.

TCBC: Have you led a school trip before?

HR: I have led lots of school trips before. I did lower school trips for year 7 to Germany which I organised myself. I’ve also done lots of trips to sporting events such as ice hockey and premiership football games. So I know how to put an itinerary together and have worked with a coach company. But I have never actually used a tour company before, I booked all the things myself.

TCBC: Have you been on a school trip to Berlin before?

HR: To Berlin no, that was the first time, but I always kind of had a Berlin trip in mind as the one big trip to do because I’ve been to Berlin on my own and I always thought that a 4 or 5 day school trip there would be excellent for the students.

TCBC: What did you think about our pre-departure service?

HR: It was really good, really good because initially you gave a quote based on a certain number of students and we didn’t quite reach that and you were able to say, you know we can help a little bit here and not raise the price because it was in both our interests to get the trip going. It would have been a shame to have abandoned the trip because we were short of two students. And with the itinerary, I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted, and whilst you listened to that, you also had suggestions based on your experience and I could modify my ideas according to those. You pointed things out and said this is not going to work, why don’t you do it this way around or that way, we might have to scrap this but we could do that, and that worked really really well.

TCBC: How was the tour itself?

HR: The tour was brilliant, I thought that two things from your company really were absolutely fantastic. Firstly, the fact that you were there yourselves to see how everything got off to a good start at the hotel and secondly the guides you had for us. Nick was absolutely fantastic and I wrote in my trip review for the school that he doubled the educational input by being such a knowledgeable guide and so engaging that the kids really stuck to every single word he said - he was definitely one of the best things about the trip.

TCBC: What did your students get out of the trip?

HR: Oh they got lots out of the trip. They are still talking about it and I often hear them say that “it has been one of the highlights of my time at St Bede’s”. Immediately after the trip I heard from lots of different teachers at the school that students were speaking about the trip in lessons, bringing what they had seen in Berlin into classes. The trip definitely helped them to understand better 20th century history, the cold war and Germany.

TCBC: How was the trip relevant to their curriculum?

HR: Very - it was planned as a relevant trip and I do believe that at St Bede’s we don’t do trips which aren’t relevant - it wouldn’t go ahead from the start. So it was planned in detail and visiting the Berlin Wall and Memorial Park, visiting the Stasi Prison at Hohenschönhausen, being guided by an ex political prisoner - all of this is relevant to their historical studies.

TCBC: Would you recommend us?

HR: Yes, definitely I would. I have done so.

TCBC: What impresses you the most about us?

HR: Flexibility, that you are competitive in terms of price with other companies and the personal level, you really do have an active interest in the particular school.

TCBC: And finally, do you have any personal trip highlights?

HR: Definitely the ice hockey match. For me always and for some of the kids this was the counter point to all the serious stuff, to go and see an ice hockey game in the O2 arena, a kind of mega sporting event. Also for me personally was meeting Nick, our guide, and having conversations with him beyond the tour. We could talk a little bit about history and our personal views. And also meeting the tour guides in Hohenschönhausen for instance, somebody who was himself a political prisoner and who got caught up in the Prague Spring uprising and the weight this uprising had even in East Germany. These were the highlights for me.

TCBC: Thank you Henrik.