Hyderabad is home to two centres, each contributing to the culture in its own unique way. One of them is Alliance Francaise Hyderabad, while the other is Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad. Its history is an interesting one. The story goes that when Germany’s former President Johannes Rau visited Hyderabad, he asked the then Chief Minister of the State about a direct flight to Germany and the location of the cultural centre.
The questions became a catalyst for the establishment of a German language centre within one-and-a-half years and introduction of a direct Lufthansa flight to Germany from Hyderabad.
Starting off as a small centre to propagate German language, today, Goethe-Zentrum has grown into an important cultural hub. It stepped up and went on to fill the void left by the Max Müller Bhavan which closed around the ’90s.
For over 15 years now, Goethe-Zentrum has been teaching German language and adding to the cultural milieu. “We had about 260 students in 2004 who learnt German. Now, the number comes to 2,000 students approximately,” says cexecutive director, Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad.
Initially, Goethe-Zentrum organised 15 events in 2004, building up to 100 events each year. Events like exhibitions, film screening, lectures, literature, music and various cultural programmes are the many areas the centre is active in. “We were instrumental in launching some of the big festivals that the city has today; we have partnered in a jazz festival and also collaborated with World Music Day celebrations which is done on a small scale here,” says Desai.
When it comes to challenges, those who work at Goethe-Zentrum say there are none. “It’s always been great and challenging. It’s like – when you ask a mother after she delivers a baby, she is not going to talk about labour pains; she will speak about a beautiful baby in her arms and how the baby has come. It’s the same with challenges. I can’t think of any difficulties, although every day is a challenge, but I would say that the journey has been very satisfying,” adds Desai.
In 2018, Goethe-Zentrum has been host to Telangana Photography Society where a 10-day workshop was held for budding photographers who wanted to learn the technicalities of photography from the masters. In the following months, they also organised jazz concerts and film screenings where artists from Germany showcased their talent.
“We always try to find cohesiveness with people, because, at the end, we just want to encourage art, not to own it,” says Jyoti Bezwada, programme coordinator, Goethe-Zentrum.
At the centre, they get students who fall under three categories –those who are working with a company which requires them to learn German, students who want to study in Germany and those who seek to explore job opportunities there. Although the centre doesn’t help students with placements, they do guide them on visa-related matters.
“We must remember that it is not enough to know a language, but also understand the people who use the language,” explains Amita Desai. Although, since 2004, many language centres have come up where one can learn German, few are able to bring out the optimum linguistic ability of the students.
“As a result of this, they don’t have the wherewithal to work because you need to have a very good base for the institutions. We at Goethe-Zentrum always work on keeping the basics intact when teaching the students,” she concludes.