Neues Gymnasium Leoben



Opening hearts and minds to refugees

the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives


We are living in an age of exile. While many see cultural diversity and a move towards a more global approach to the way of living, others focus on the threats and start building walls and fences.

Populism needs the image of an enemy. If there are not any readily available, they have to be invented. Witchhunt, the evils of migration, nationalism, racism, gender inequality,... the list goes on. Narrow minded people, full of fear and a lack of education (human rights, global citizenship) focus on actions driven by fear while the others see chances and opportunities and start setting the sails.

Culture is what we know without "learning" it is soaked up and formed by the social environment where we start our life and learn to "swim" It is some kind of social language and it needs relearning and reprogramming when we are thrown into different waters. Adaptation and translation of social codes on both sides must be based on the values of human rights and should be headed towards a global citizenship.

Let us look forward to seeing a more diverse and richer world embracing the different shades and tastes. If we fail and struggle for a moment don't let us look where we fell, but where we slipped.


One young migrant, Behrouz Mohammedi, started to draw and paint as soon as he arrived in Leoben, Austria. He found a way to express all his fears and hopes by the means of art. This young man found a way to attract the attention of Ms. Erika Augustin (a 85 year old very vital and active lady engaged in helping refugees) and me (Albert Ecker, artist, teacher with a long history of intercultural work. and we started a project with students of BORG LEOBEN high school.

Some in classroom art lessons have brought them closer and started the idea to contact the local city administration for culture. We found open ears and got the chance to organize a very well recepted art show in a gallery in the city center of Leoben. It meant giving a new perspective to a highly inspired young migrant and opening the minds of young students in their most formative years of their life.

It is the famous drop on a hot stone but one should not forget that it is water which has the power to shape that stone....


Art by Behrouz (refugee from Afghanistan showing moments and thoughts of his refugee to Austria)