The five days of our Erasmus+-project-meeting went by very quickly. On the last day, students worked in groups on an evaluation. Unanimously, they agreed that participating in a European project is very valuable and that there are many advantages, for example:
getting to know other cultures
improving language skills
getting to know people
becoming more independent / learning how to travel
Pictured below are both the brainstorming process and posters created.
In addition, students were asked to reflect on what they liked about the meeting in Lille. Even though this is specifically about this meeting and this location, the feedback can be used to improve future meetings both in Lille and in other places. While Erasmus+-projects are a lot about project work, students’, parents’ and teachers’ satisfaction beyond project work will directly impact their retention of the experience. Moreover, if satisfied, they will talk to friends and peers about Erasmus+, thus spreading the idea even more.
Even though movies are made primarily for entertainment, they also show us real life problems. One example is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. Working with excerpts and quotations, students reflected on possible themes and topics of this movie. They reacted to it with a piece of creative writing. Moreover, they conducted a survey on what for them personally is important for their mental well-being.
It is interesting to observe that in this survey, many students put friendship first. Even more interesting to see is that also health in general (so the well-being of the body) is in the top quartile of their answers. The well-known sentence of “Mens sana in corpore sano” obviously is still true for today’s youth.
When asked what is important for their mental and emotional well-being, students name (among other things) physical well-being. The Erasmus+-meeting included a both theoretical and practical program.
Sports, exercises are sometimes seen as boring. The school in Lille, its gym offer a variety of sports opportunities, in this way enticing students to discover new sports and to do these together with friends in a good spirit. For most students, it was their first encounter with climbing. While they were very skeptical, even afraid at first, they quickly overcame their fear and followed the example of their already experienced partners. In this way, physical exercise, the confrontation with a challenging task also led to a growth in self-confidence with the discovery of being able to do more than first thought.
The ”Louis Pasteur Museum” is situated in Lille. It houses a small and interesting exhibition on the history of Pasteur’s work in the field of vaccination. Students learned about the times before vaccination was invented and widely available. Other topics covered are the production of vaccines and the different types that exist. In an interactive exhibit, they were able to see how well they are using disinfectants, scanning their hands for residues (germs etc.) after disinfection.
To feel at ease with oneself is a necessary prerequisite for emotional and mental well-being. Knowing one’s origins helps to understand oneself. What has shaped me? Which influences have created the person that I am today? These are questions people can ask. As a person, we are influenced by our closer environment, such as families, our friends, other close people we come into contact with. Both in a positive or negative way. But also our wider environment does have a large influence on us, on our lives, our well-being. This aspect is often enough ignored when talking about identity.
During the meeting in France, students travelled to Brussels in Belgium (which is ~40 minutes away). There they visited the House of European History and explored the roots and achievements of the European Union and how its creation has changed its citizens’ lives to the better.
In the podcast, students present the Erasmus+-project in general (the different topics covered during the complete duration of the project) and the activities of the meeting in Lille.
They speak about their intercultural experiences of travelling to another country and being a guest in a host family – or of welcoming guests into their family. Also they discuss the similarities and differences between the different participating schools. This radio programme is available here.
Be kind to your mind – and be kind to other people’s mind!
It is easy to help someone feel better – be it a stranger or a friend. All it takes is a smile or a kind word. However, too often we forget about this in our daily lives. Often enough, people also are at a loss of words and do not know what to say.
Students collected kind messages, compliments both in English and in their mother tongue. These were written onto slips of paper, which were then glued together to form the rings. Gradually, a long “Chain of Compliments” was created.
Students decided to use this chain in group pictures to send to their friends and families. Afterwards it was displayed in the project room – a library also used by other students and teachers.
How do I write about my own identity? Who am I anyway? How can I express my feelings, my self?
When confronted with these questions, people quite naturally do not know how to answer. Still, when working on a “concentrated” / “distilled” text like short stories or poetry about one’s own identity, it is possible to focus, rewrite, and come to a deeper understanding of oneself, one’s feeling, the “essence” of oneself.
The hardest part is always getting started. To ease the beginning, we used a number of auxiliary methods and writing exercises. Some results can be seen here.
What shapes us? It is not the place we come from. But the past we come from. The interests we come from. Students thus were asked to write about past and present experiences, interests, influences on themselves.