In between skiing, ice swimming and hill sledging we had plenty of time to have simply amazing conversations with people from all over Europe. It was beautiful how this project made it seem completely normal, that individuals from different cultural backgrounds interacted with each other and had all in all a great time in Finland.
The best week of our lives.
Age, appearance and sometimes even language barriers didn’t matter during the process of developing genuine friendships. The creative program designed by the finnish teachers was focused on letting us discover strengths that we might haven’t noticed yet. But there’s one thing we know for sure: This week wouldn’t have been complete without our extraordinary tutors, Mr Gulden, Mrs and Mr Van Boekel. They truly were a significant part of our whole memorable and beyond wonderful erasmus-experience.
Antonia Mattes, Nicole Schaaf
Our Finnish partner school organized a very balanced program for the meeting. Each day we spent in Pietarsaari centered on a different soft skill. Monday started with kindness and focused on getting to know each other. But the students also went ice skating where some actually depended on the kindness of others in order not to fall. Tuesday focused on curiosity with a seminar on character strength as well as the opening of the exhibition Power through Photography. Wednesday‘s motto was Sisu – best translated as perseverance. On that day we went ice swimming, which meant that after going to a sauna we went into a Finnish lake with temperatures below 0 degrees. On Thursday there were workshops on school-life-integration, stress management and goals for our future lives. These were aimed at increasing self-awareness. And finally, since we had to say our goodbyes on Friday, the theme was hope.
One of the nicest parts of the program was the opening of the exhibition Power through Photography. Students from all six partner countries had had photos taken of themselves that only had one purpose: to show a beautiful side of their personality. For this project students took turns being photographers and models, thereby learing how it feels to be on both sides of the camera. But they also debated which photos to choose for the exhibition and had to find a good caption for their picture.
Our cultural experiences were plentyful. But first and foremost we had wonderful conversations with our hosts who always tried to make us feel welcome and answered every question we had about Finnish life. On wednesday we visited a museum organized by an arctic explorer that showed how different people survived in arctic conditions in various times. On that day the teachers had dinner in a restaurant that served original early 19th century Finnish food. On thursday we had a cultural evening where our Finnish host organized various typical activities. Even Santa Claus made an appearance.
But above all Finland meant lots and lots of snow. Everything was white and of course very, very cold. Temperatures below -20 degrees with a considerable wind chill were common. However, the Finns showed us the beauty of their winter with outdoor activities like sledging, skiing, ice skating and ice swimming. And afterwards there was always a warm beverage like a hot chocolate, a cup of coffee or tea to warm ourselves in a circle of equally warm hearted friends.
From 15th to 20th January 2018, our school pupils: Natalia Piętka, Konrad Mędoń and Ignacy Strojny and Mrs Emilia Potoniec-Tokarska, participated in the next project trip as part of the Erasmus + programme- “From Me to We” project. This time our students had the chance to work in cold but breathtaking Finland.
The project took place in Pietarsaari in the northern part of Finland. Our students lived in the homes of Finnish students taking part in the project, thanks to which they also had a unique opportunity to get to know the culture of this beautiful country even more accurately.
The main theme of the trip was getting to know and train the so-called “Soft skills” or skills such as: kindness, curiosity, coping with stress, hope and “sisu” -in Finnish – courage. The students worked in international groups developing various aspects related to the development of the above skills. In addition to the usual activities, students were provided with extracurricular activities which included: skiing, skating and ice-diving. On Wednesday, 17th January, a trip to the Nanoq arctic museum took place, after which the students went to dinner and they had the opportunity to walk on the frozen Baltic Sea.
That project is an amazing opportunity for any students to develop various skills.