Travel journal

SUNDAY 4TH NOVEMBER

On Monday it will take place in Seville (Spain) the forth Project Meeting. During the weekend teachers and pupils are arriving to Seville. Families pick up children at the airport, What an emotional moment!

Partners who arrived early take advantage of this day to walk around the town Los Palacios y Villafranca.

MONDAY, 5th NOVEMBER

After a nice breakfast, all the group meet at the hotel´s hall and go walking to  Andrés Bernáldez School. It´s a school situated in a rural area, there are almost 500 students between 3 and 12 years old, and 27 teachers.

When we arrived there, there where some children wearing their traditional costumes and giving us a flower and then we went into the school where all the children were in the corridors greeting us with flags from the different countries.

We went up to the terrace and all the children were in the playground. They sang and danced a song for us. After that, we went to the meeting room and we enjoyed a show of traditional flamenco dances.

After that we enjoyed a delicious breakfast with the hosting families, it´s a very interesting experience to share information and feelings about children and our different cultures.

When finish breakfast, we went again to the meeting room and enjoyed another flamenco show offered by a different dance school. This time the flamenco teacher danced for us and offered a short flamenco master class for us.

At lunchtime, we went walking to the hotel to have lunch  in the hotel restaurant, all the Erasmus group and the hosting teachers enjoyed a nice meal.

After lunch we went back to the school and it takes place our first meeting to discuss some important questions about the Project. As the coordinator decided to withdraw the Project we have been obligued to finish it, during this first meeting we tried to find a solution to this issue, we decided to write a letter to the new headmaster of the coordinator school and to the NA, to try to avoid their rejection. And we also discussed about the activities that we have to present here and the activities that we did. During the meeting the Spanish coordinator gave each partner a presents bag, including the information about places that we were going to visit with maps and the Vocabulary Book. Also a methacrylate present for the school to remember this meeting.

When we fisnished the meeting, we went for dinner to a fantastic restaurant in Los Palacios y Villafranca. We enjoyed having traditional dishes from the area and after this the group went back to the hotel for resting of this intense first day.

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TUESDAY,  6th NOVEMBER

According to the program, on Tuesday we visited Seville. After breakfast at the hotel, we met at 8 o´clock to take a bus which will drive us to Seville. We picked up children from school, Erasmus children and hosting children went with us to this visit.

Our first stop was Capitania building in Plaza España Plaza de España is an outstanding example of regionalist revival architecture of the 20th century. It was the most emblematic monument of the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929. It has been used as a filming location in the Star Wars movie series.there a guide was waiting for us. There we visit the building of Captaincy General of Seville is integrated into the rear of the Plaza of Spain, an elegant historicist style building designed by Aníbal González in 1914 and opened fourteen years later, in 1928, overlooking the Great American Exhibition. With its main front of the Plaza of the Army, from the outside is accessed through a magnificent open porch to the square through a portico of three arches, a deep porch inside which creates a forest of cruciform pillars brick, which is covered by a series of pointed ribbed vaults made with high quality and purity of line.

We took pictures here and after that we went for a walk through the beautiful streets of Seville, we pass the University building, and arrived to Santa Cruz’s quarter walking through its narrow streets, charming squares and touristic atmosphere that characterize this quarter right next to the Cathedral what was our next stop. Seville Cathedral  is the biggest gothic Cathedral and the third largest Christian Cathedral in the world. It was built in the 15th century on an ancient Muslim mosque. The Main Chapel is a must-do! There we visited the Giralda tower, it is the symbol of the city. Once the ancient minaret of the Arabic mosque, it holds today the bell tower for the Cathedral. After this visit we went for lunch to a charming restauratn testing new Andalusian flavours.

After lunch we went direct to the Alcázar, it is an Arabic fortress and Moorish Palace that present some astonishing gardens. It is located closed to the Cathedral.We explored this by ourselves and after this visit, we enjoyed a couple of hours having a coffee, shopping or visiting more nice places of this beautiful and wonderful town.

At night we were ready to enjoy a real flamenco experience at Casa de la Guitarra, it was a small intimate place, there we could enjoy of an authentic show during an hour. A mixture of talented guitar and vocal solos with a fabulous dancer
represent an amazing performance of passion. Unbelievable experience!

And to finish this day, we enjoyed a nice dinner next to the Cathedral and went back to Los Palacios for resting, we needed it after this intense but wonderful day!

 

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WEDNESDAY, 7th NOVEMBER

This morning after breakfast, a bus was waiting fot us to go to Córdoba.

Córdoba is still home to many notable pieces of Moorish architecture such as the Mezquita, which was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, and it´s currently in use as a Cathedral. The UNESCO status has since been expanded to encompass the whole historic centre of Córdoba. Much of this architecture, such as the Alcázar and the Roman bridge has been reworked or reconstructed by the city’s successive inhabitants.

A partner from the school was our guide in Córdoba, first we walked through the Jewish Qarter, near the Cathedral, which consists of many irregular streets, such as Calleja de las Flores and Calleja del Pañuelo, and which is home to the Synagogue and the Sephardic House. It was a rainy day, but in spite of this we could enjoy the beauty and attractiveness of this town.

We arrived to the Mezquita, or Great Mosque, of Córdoba, in the Umayyad style of architecture with variations inspired by indigenous Roman and Christian Visigothic structures. Later caliphs extended the mosque with more domed bays, arches, intricate mosaics and a minaret, making it one of the four wonders of the medieval Islamic world. After the Christian reconquest of Andalucía, a cathedral was built in the heart of the mosque, however much of the original structure remains. It can be found in the Historic Centre of Córdoba, a recognized World Heritage Site.

After this we crossed the Roman Bridge , over the Guadalquivir River, links the area of Campo de la Verdad with Barrio de la Catedral. It was the only bridge of the city for twenty centuries, until the construction of the San Rafael Bridge in the mid-20th century. Built in the early 1st century BC, during the period of Roman rule in Córdoba, probably replacing a more primitive wooden one, it has a length of about 250 m and has 16 arches.

And when it was time for lunch we went to a restaurant and enjoyed the tasting of traditional dishes from the town such as salmorejo, flamenquín cordobés, rabo de toro, berenjenas a la miel o pastelón cordobés.

Then we went back to Los Palacios, and we stayed in a meeting room of the hotel where took place another Project meeting to discuss the latest facts. We continued talking about how we could continue with this Project, and after finished the letter for the coordinator school´s headmaster and the NA, we sent it.

Another day is finished, and it´s time for resting!

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THURSDAY 8th NOVEMBER

On Thursday after breakfast, the bus was waiting for us and after pick up the children at the school, we started our trip to Jerez de la Frontera, there we visited Tio Pepe wine cellar, there a guide explained us the history of the wine cellar and the proccess of wine elaboration. We could enjoy the tasting of two different wines and we visited the different bodegas,  patios and gardens.

After this visit we took the bus to go to Real Escuela De Arte Ecuestre where we could enjoy the unique show “How the Andalusian Horses Dance”,  it´s an equestrian ballet accompanied by quintessential Spanish music and 18th century styled costumes, all put together and choreographed using movements based upon Classical Dressage, Doma Vaquera (country-style riding) and traditional equestrian chores. Each show consists of between six and eight different choreographies, with the same degree of difficulty and entertainment value and scheduled by the school.

When the show was finished and after walk under the rain, the bus drove us to Cádiz, there we walked through the Promenade, we had luch in a fantastic restaurant next to the beach. There we enjoyed typical dishes from Cádiz as tortillitas de camarones, delicious! After lunch, children and also adults stayed on the beach playing, walking or taking pictures and enjoying of the beautiful landscape of Cádiz.

Then we went to the town centre. Cadiz has been a seafaring, trading town for more than 3,000 years, in fact it is the oldest city on record in western Europe. It is difficult not to fall in love with the city, which combines a rich cultural heritage with an upbeat, friendly ambience. We walk through La Caleta beach, Gran Teatro  Falla, San Antonio Square, Palillero Square, Columela Street, Plaza de las Flores, the Cathedral and the town council.

After discovering this charming Andalusian town we went back to Los Palacios, ready to rest and be ready for our last day.

 

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FRIDAY 9th NOVEMBER

After breakfast we walked to the School, there the coordinator guide us through the school, presenting the classes, teachers and explaining their way of working. We visited different classes and children sang for us different songs.

Then the partners from Cyprus, Croatia and Portugal presented the Activities in different classes of 6th Grade and the rest of partners enjoyed their presentations. Teachers and pupils had prepared an activity related to their cultures and the Spanish students and teachers received them with enthusiasm and enjoyed this experience sharing different aspects of cultures and traditions.

When the activities finished, we enjoyed a traditional breakfast with the hosting families, talking with them about the week and how the children felt, and how they have been enjoying this experience.

After breakfast, we had our last meeting, the Spanish coordinator presented the vocabulary book. And we discuss about the final of our Project.

The farewell dinner took place in the hotel restaurant. There we had the possibility to taste more traditional food and listen to live modern flamenco music. We enjoyed talking and dancing, At the end of the dinner all participants received their certificates of attendance and we took many pictures of all of us together. The atmosphere was very good and it felt good to finish the week this way. Everyone was very happy and satisfied with the week in Spain, but worried and unhappy about the fact that this could be the last meeting of this wonderful group.

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Metsokangas Comprehensive School

Country: Finland
City: Oulu
Coordinators: Petri Korpi, Jaana Hekkanen and Kati Myllymäki-Nissinen
School’s name: Metsokangas Comprehensive School
Amout of campuses: 4 campuses (1300 students, 100 teachers)
School’s Erasmus blog here
School’s website here

Metsokangas Comprehensive School is situated in the middle of the new suburban area of Metsokangas, just 10 minutes from central Oulu by car. We provide a high-quality, broad education for around 1000 children, from seven to sixteen years of age.

The education in Metsokangas Comprehensive School is based on the national core curriculum and the joint curricular guidelines issued by the city of Oulu and Metsokangas Comprehensive School’s own curriculum.

We emphasise problem-solving and critical thinking skills through innovative learning experiences and we have access to modern and future technologies in our learning environments. Enhancing the sense of community well-being among the citizens of future is one of our basic tasks.

Presentation video of our school made by Microsoft

Music video of our school made by our students

World Heritage sites in Finland made by our students:

Travel journal

Sunday, 20th May 2018

This Monday sees the start of the third Erasmus Project Meeting week which is to be held in Sicily. This weekend all participants will fly to Catania, where we will stay overnight before transferring by bus on Monday morning to our host school in Canicatti.  This is the first trip with pupils accompanying the teachers.  Our children will stay with Sicilian host families and for some of the pupils it will be their first time away from home.  Exciting and a little bit scary too!  The program prepared for us by our Sicilian colleagues  and we are looking forward to the week ahead.

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Monday 21st May 2018

After a good nights sleep our alarm wakes us around 7. An early start! We all enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Then it is time to pack our bags and walk to the busstop where we are about to meet the other participants for the first time. For both teachers and pupils it feels a bit strange; it is always hard meeting a new group.   Everyone is very kind and soon everyone is chatting together and getting to know each other. We then board the bus to Taormina, an old and very touristic little village. Steep roads lead down to the sea, an old arena, the striking sight of the vulcano Etna, all this, together with the beautuful view across the sea make this a very special place to visit. A guide,who speaks English very well, accompanies us on the walk. There is so much to see! The entire group enjoy lunch and then we board the bus to continue our trip to Catania, our destination for the week. When we arrive at the site of the school in Catania, a large group of people is awaiting us. We are about to meet our host families! It is a good thing we all have mobile phones with translation apps on! This makes communicating with the Sicilian families slightly easier. All host families are very kind to our pupils and we feel happy to leave them and to see them go home fort heir first night with their host family. And above all we get to know one another better and enjoy each others company.

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Tuesday 22nd May 2018

This morning we are being collected by the parents of the pupils attending Don Bosco School. The reception is very special, as all pupils have made paper flags of all the participating countries. They have all lined up in two rows in the courtyard and are waving at us when we arrive. The courtyard is full of olive trees, the sun shines and the sky is blue. What a wonderful sight! When we look at the children we see the Italian temperament shining through: full of pride and dedication they sing their national anthem, hand on their breast and standing straight. Goosebumps! They also play the national anthems of all the participating countries which is a welcoming gesture! We are given a handmade flower and are seated in the main hall where the show to welcome us is about to start. The show is lovely to watch and it is obvious they have practised a lot. Someone is playing the piano and there is lots of singing and dancing. At the end we are all invited to join in with the dancing. The hall is large and has high ceilings and is positioned in the centre with corridors leading to the various classrooms. In comparison with the hall the classrooms are fairly small. Local delicacies are laid out on tables for us to taste. With a mouthful of olives we enter the classroom for a taster session in Italian. Italian sounds beautiful, but, for a foreigner, very hard to learn. At the end we thank everyone and leave the classroom. In the meantime parents have brought in food and the whole school smells delicious! As we are not used toe at such a late lunch the smell of the food makes us hungry After enjoying a very tasty meal we get ready for a guided walk through Canicatti. We get to see some beautifuul old buildings and climb steep passageways with amazing views at the end. At the end of our interesting walk we end up in a small square where the host families are awaiting our pupils. We, the teachers, return to our hotel. We eat and then it is off to bed. ‘Eat’ seems such a small word, as here a meal takes around two and a half hours from start to finish! But who cares! It all tastes great and we have more than enough time. Good night and see you in the morning!

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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Today we travel by bus to ‘The Valley of the Temples’ or as the Italians say ‘Valle dei Templí’. Everyone is in good spirit! It is one of the most striking examples of Grecian art and architecture and one of the main attractions of Sicily. From the bus we can already spot these ancient ruins and they look impressive. It takes a while before we can enter, but around us there are all sorts of stalls with far too expensive magnets and bracelets for sale and so the children entertain themselves. The temples lie far apart, which means we have to walk quite a distance. It is very warm. It is difficult for the children to stay with the guide who speaks English and therefore some of us walk away from the group to discover the site by themselves., When we reach one of the highest points the guide tells us that this is THE place for a picture. Another photo we all think, but when we look around we understand why. What a wonderful view! The huge ancient temple with in the distance the blue sea, the hills with the winding roads and flowering cacti make a striking and beautiful picture! We are then driven by bus to San Leone, a beach near Agrigento. The beach looks like it is taken straight from a tourist guidebook; what a beautiful place! Immediately our children want to swim and play in the sand. The seawater is cold, but refreshing. The children play in the sand and water until it’s time to go back for dinner.

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Travel journal

Saturday, 17th and Sunday, 18th February 2018

This Monday sees the start of the second Erasmus Project Meeting week. This weekend all participants will travel to Oulu in Finland. Most of us will take a flight to Helsinki and then a transfer flight to Oulu in the northern part of the country. After collecting our luggage we take a taxi or bus to the hotel which is already prebooked for everyone. The program prepared for us by our Finland colleagues looks promising and we are looking forward to the week ahead and can’t wait to find out what Finland has to offer!

Monday, 19th February 2018

After a nice breakfast we took the city bus to the Metsokangas Comprehensive School. We were picked up at the bus stop by our Finnish colleagues and had a short walk to the school. It is a large school with 84 teachers and 1241 students between the ages of 7 to 15. The Director made a presentation on the Finnish school system: * In Finland teachers are university trained. * There is no obligation to test the children. Testing is only done when the teacher chooses to do so. * Teachers are however obliged to coher to the law and the curriculum. * By preparing their lessons jointly teachers learn from each other on a daily basis. Afterwards there was a coffee break with special Finnish bread and typical Finnish chocolates. We got a tour of two of the three school buildings. It is striking that there are many facilities for crafts, art and sports lessons. When a new school building is built, 1% of the budget must be spent on art, hence the colorful artwork on the ceiling. It symbolizes the individual pupils who enter the school. There are no standard classrooms in the new building, but larger spaces where 100 pupils can follow lessons at the same time. After the tour we go to the school cafeteria and join the pupils for a hot meal at lunchtime. This is a daily custom at the school. Next there was a performance by the pupils, so that we could learn about and practise typical Finnish folk music and folk dancing. In between we were given an explanation of Kalevala: a collection of traditional Finnish folk songs and poems, but also about a well known Finnish musical instrument: Kantele. After a tea break with delicious Finnish cakes it was time for our first project meeting. Using different cooperative forms of work we got acquainted with the educational systems of all participating countries. A substantive report with all the results will follow. In the evening we all enjoyed a lovely dinner at ‘ Toripollisi ‘.

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Tuesday, 20th February 2018

This morning we were picked up at the hotel to a special needs school (Tiernan Koulu: Tiernan means star). The school has 11 locations, 65 teachers and 100 teaching assistants. The deputy director gave a presentation in which he explained that the school is based in a former army base. There are 320 pupils aged from 14 to 17 years. They have learning, behavioural, social emotional and/or mental health problems. Usually the pupils have at least two of these problems. This school also teaches pupils who use a wheelchair as well as seriously ill children, for example pupils with cancer. A student can come to this school if he/she needs one to one support. In general it takes about 6 months before a pupil can move from regular education to this special needs school. Each class has a teacher and at least one teaching support assistant and classes consist of 5-7 pupils. There are several different arrangements depending on what the needs of the student. There is also intensified support available on top of the general support. If needed pupils can have daily one to one support. Nurses, a doctor and therapists are also present at the school. All of this involves a lot of paperwork and must be approved by the Director. Today we visit the Heinätori unit. From the photo you can see how many employees and students are present at this location. The learning capacities are very diverse and groups are mixed, for example in a group with seriously ill students are also students who learn well and are being prepared for university, whilst at the Heinätori unit staff will be happy if pupils there learn how to be self-reliant and how to live independently. After the presentation we get a tour of the school. We see a lot of practice rooms for lessons in art, mechanics work and digital lessons (burning CDs/DVDs and design). Then we have a warm meal eaten in the school cafeteria. After lunch the schoolbus takes us back to our hotels. In the afternoon a guide takes us on a have a walk through Oulu. We visit a museum with cartoon characters, learn about the history of Oulu and go to the old leather factory, where in the science center, we watched a 3D movie named ‘Flight of the butterflies’. It is the oldest science center in Finland and celebrating its 30th anniversary. At the end of the film we were allowed to explore the science center by ourselves. Nice to be able to test everything! We also took a lift up the tower from where we had a beautiful birds eye view of the city. Afterwards we walked to the ‘Roaster’ restaurant where we combined a delicious dinner with our 2nd Project Meeting.

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Wednesday, 21st February 2018

This morning we take the city bus to the third location of the school we visited on Monday. When we arrived we were offered coffee and tea with typical Finnish bread and welcomed in the gym. In the welcome speech the teacher explained to us about the flag of Finland. The blue in the flag represents the blue skies, the water and blue eyes of the Finnish people. The white, ofcourse, is for the snow. The school choir sang several songs for us and concluded with the national anthem. It was nice to see images of Finland projected above the choir whilst they were singing. Then all participating countries were welcomed individually and asked, one by one, to tell something about our country and school. At the end we got a card and homemade flowers. We were then interviewed by the students. They had all kinds of questions prepared for us about our countries. After lunch in the school canteen (a delicious hearty soup) we first followed Finnish language lessons and then we went outside for a sports lesson. First we did some typical Finnish games, like ‘Catch the snowman’. Then the students taught us how to ski and we had a go at walking through the snow on special snow shoes. This was followed by a tea break with delicious sweet rolls with jam and cream and a special cheese with marmalade. Next there was a presentation on Montessori education in which was told how it came about and how the materials work. This was followed by a presentation on ICT and technology with an explanation on how they teach the 21st century skills. We had some free time before dinner and at 17.45 we were picked up and taken to a cottage in the woods for our third project meeting. First we were given a presentation about ‘The science with Arctic Attitude ‘, by a professor of the University of Oulu.  We then discussed the Spring and Summer festivities book and talked about the first trip with pupils in May to Sicily. After the meeting it was time for the sauna!

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Thursday, 22nd February 2018

On Thursday morning our Erasmus+ group headed towards Lapland. We were very lucky again, although it was cold, there wasn’t any wind and the sun was shining. Everything around us was covered with glistening snow. It was so beautiful everywhere!

In Rovaniemi, the capital of the Northernmost part of Finland, we visited Santa Claus Village. At first we had a buffet at the Christmas House restaurant. Next we got to know the Santa Claus Village by walking around. There were many things to see and experience. At Santa Claus Main Post Office it was possible to sit by the fireplace and write to our friends all over the world. If we wanted to we could also order a Santa Claus Letter, which would be sent anywhere around the world before Christmas by Santa Claus. At the main building of Santa Claus Village we saw a unique Christmas-theme exhibition. The exhibition showed us Finnish Christmas culture and also the most recognized Christmas traditions from around the World.

While being at Santa Claus Village we were lucky to meet Santa Claus himself! He impressed us with his knowledge. After asking where our Erasmus+ group members came from, he could tell us interesting facts about the participants’ countries. At the end of our meeting we took a lovely photograph of all of us together with Santa Claus.

Another unforgettable moment was when we crossed the Arctic Circle together. The Arctic Circle is a line visible on the map. North of the Arctic Circle the sun can be seen above the horizon, even at midnight, during the summertime. On the other hand, during the winter the sun stays below the horizon for a long period of time. This is the time which is called Polar night. Even if the sun does not rise, it is not completely dark. During midwinter or the twilight period, light is provided by the moon and stars in addition to the magical Northern Lights and the clean, bright cover of shimmering snow. We tried our best to be able to see dancing Northern Lights but we were not fortunate enough. Maybe some other time!

After leaving Santa Claus Village and the Arctic Circle we continued to Sieriporo Safaris. Sieriporo Safaris is a reindeer farm that offers visits all year round. Because it was winter time we were able to have reindeer sleigh rides. Our host gave us a lecture on reindeer husbandry in Finland in the past and present. At the end we were told that we all passed the riding test and receivedour reindeer driving licenses!

Our next stop was the SnowCastle of Kemi. It is the biggest snow fort in the world which is rebuilt in Kemi each winter. The Snow Castle has a different theme every year. The theme of the year 2018 is “SnowCastle – Animal Wonderland”. We had a guided tour around the SnowCastle and our guide told us interesting facts about the SnowCastle’s architecture.

We were also fascinated by the SnowHotel which offers hotel rooms made completely of snow. We were told the temperature in the hotel rooms is always around -5 Celsius degrees but the bed with a lambskin cover, a fleece sheet and a sleeping bag designed for Arctic conditions ensures a good night sleep. Beautiful ice sculptures on the walls were breathtaking! In addition to SnowHotel there is also the World’s largest SnowRestaurant and SnowChapel in the SnowCastle area.

Instead of booking a night at SnowHotel we enjoyed sledding down the snowy hill outside the SnowCastle. But soon it was time to move on again. Our next destination was a town called Haaparanta on the Swedish side of the border between Finland and Sweden. We admired the town’s beautiful City Hall. It looked lovely when the street lights were on in the evening. After having a snack at a local restaurant we continued our trip back to Oulu.

Surely we all were tired after a busy day full of wonderful experiences! We created unforgettable memories together and had an opportunity to experience the arctic beauty of winter in Finland.

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Friday, 23rd February 2018

On Friday the bus picked us up from the hotel and we headed for the Stone Age Center in Yli-Ii. The Stone Age Center was an amazing experience for all of us. It was a journey back into the time of the Stone Age. A Stone Age Village complete with habitations showed us what daily life was like on the banks of the River li thousands of years ago. First we watched a movie of these times and then we had a perfect guided tour of the museum. After that we walked to the real village to see the houses of the Stone Age and to have a cup of coffee or tea in those houses by the fire. The atmosphere in the Stone Age house was warm and happy, because everyone enjoyed their time together. The guide told us that these types of villages were located in the Kierikki area, in the delta of the River Ii, as long as 5,000-6,000 years ago. The village contains different types of buildings, mainly single-room houses but also large terraced buildings. There are fire sites around the houses, and a river running past the village. The inhabitants rowed in flat-bottom boats made from single tree trunks. After having a coffee we went out to try the skis from the Stone Age and also to shoot with the Stone Age style bow. Some of us also tried to catch a reindeer with a Finnish traditional lasso called ‘suopunki’. All of them caught us food so we were very happy! Next we had planned to go to the grocery store and to Koiteli Rapids to have lunch, but one of us got ill so we changed our plans and the Finnish coordinators and two participants went to the Kiiminki Health Center and the rest of the group to the Chinese restaurant to have a delicious lunch. After many tests the two participants were advised to take a taxi to the Oulu hospital. So we skipped the idea of the Koiteli Rapids and instead of that the two went to the hospital and the rest of the group back to the hotel. That way they had a few hours shopping time before the farewell dinner. The farewell dinner took place in the restaurant called Sokeri-Jussin kievari. There we had the possibility to taste the Finnish traditional food, sauteed reindeer. It was very good and worth the waiting. At the end of the dinner all participants received their certificates of attendance and we took many pictures of all of us together. The atmosphere was very good and it felt good to finish the week this way. Everyone was very happy and satisfied with the week in Finland.

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Travel journal

Sunday 29th October 2017

Most of us will depart for our destination, Thessaloniki Airport in Greece, either Saturday 28th or Suday 29th October.

From the airport we travel by bus or taxi to our hotels.

There will be time to do some sightseeing and to taste some of the local specialities.

On Monday we will be travelling to the northern part of mainland Greece, in the direction of Macedonia, for our 1st PM at the Greek school.

Looking forward to the week ahead!

Monday 30th October 2017

First thing this morning we met with the other participants from all countries in the lobby of the hotel.  From there we left to view the White Tower, one of the most famous sights of Thessaloniki.  This tower was built by the Ottomans in the 15th century as a defence fort he harbour. Later it became a prison and a place for mass executions.  In 1912, when the Greek took over the town, the Tower was painted white.

Our next stop was the archeological museum of Pella, where various findings from excavations are being displayed.

In the evening we had our first Project Meeting.  We discussed and planned the various activities and journeys fort the first year of our project. A detailed account will be sent to all of you at a later stage, as at this particular moment it is still possible that project changes will be made.

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   Tuesday 31st October 2017

After a delicious breakfast of local products we left to visit the primary school, where we received a warm welcome. Children dressed in school uniform greeted us with a local drink and delicacy.The children then treated us to a performance of traditional songs and dances, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Next all participating countries gave a presentation about their own country, town/village and their school by means of film or Powerpoint.  It was nice to get an impression of all countries and their education system.   Various countries organise nice projects to promote reading, finding homes for stray animals and organising picknicks for parents and children.

Many countries offer education with ‘inclusion’. This means that pupils with special educational needs, including handicapped children, are taught in mainstream schools. Schools make provisions for these pupils like employing a special needs teacher and classes with special needs children in, are kept smaller. In general there are between 21 and 26 pupils in a class. Teachers try and create a positive atmosphere in which all pupils are encouraged to help each other.  Although they often work together, many countries still have a separate nursery and primary school.

When all presentations were done, Greece, our host country, presented us with presents. All presents were from the local region, like souvenirs from Edessa, soap made out of oliveoil and a variety of sweet delicacies.  All of these wrapped up in a Greek bag.

We were then treated to an overwhelming and delicious lunch made by parents of the children.  The choice of food was incredible and ranged from moussaka to peppersausages, cheese pie and tzatziki. We probably all ate more than we should have!
After lunch we left for a tour of Edessa, visiting the town and the waterfalls. It was extraordinary to find that the waterfalls are located in the actual town of Edessa. Apart from being a tourist attraction the waterfalls also produce electricity.  We visited various musea, amongst which a sesame mill.  In the earlier days sesame oil was widely used in Edessa, nowadays they use olive oil.

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Wednesday 1st November 2017

Our program today started with a visit to the town hall and a reception by the mayor.  We were received in an impressive hall.  The advisor informed us about the school system in Edessa. Children go to pre-school from the age of 5 to 7. When they become 7 years old they start primary school. There are 9 primary schools in Edessa, 1 pre-school and 1 primary school for SEN (Special Education Needs) pupils.
On our way to the bus we pass an old Byzantian bridge and a centuries old, completely hollow, tree.  Then we visit an old Roman city.  It is remarkable to see that even in those days the Romans ha a sewage system and built fountains and bathhouses. We notice a pillar with inscriptions showing names of slaves who were set free and who not.

The region we drive through is agricultural.  We notice many fruit trees along the way, mainly cherries and peaches. But also cotton and rice are grown for local use.

Next we are off to visit an archaeological site, the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (Vergina). The ancient site was discovered in 1976.  The excavation unearthed the burial sites of many kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Here we admire many beautiful objects, including a large gold box and well-preserved tombs.  Our guide brings the story to life in a fun way.  On the menu for lunch is fresh trout.  All across Greece you find small chapels.  More than 95% of the Greek population is orthodox.

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Thursday 2nd November 2017

For today a trip to Meteora was planned, 4 hours one way by bus. We hope it is worth this long journey, and it sure was! The mountainous landscape is interspersed with huge rocks that stick up in the landscape. Very impressive! What is even more impressive is that, in the year 1344, people built a monastry on the 613 metres high rock. The constructions materials were carried up by workers who climbed a rope ladder. An impossible task but still, with help, they managed.. There was a hoist for people who didn’t dare to go up on the hundreds of meters of rope ladders. You took place in a net and began the half-hour ‘track’ to the top.        In 1922 they started to carve steps in the rocks.  Many more monasteries and cloisters were built on various rocks in the surrounding areas.  Over centuries many were destroyed or burnt down by the enemies. Nowadays about 60 to 70 monks and nuns live in the 7 remaining monasteries/cloisters.  They explain to us more whilst we visit the churches.

Because this is a sacred place, all women wearing trousers, are asked to wrap a shawl around their waist.

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Friday 3rd November 2017

At a quarter to nine we leave for a visit to the Greek school.  We are greeted outside and then we have our first lesson learning Greek. The pupils are helping us to learn their language.  After this it is time for games. The children show us traditional Greek games, many of which are played in various ways. We finish the morning with traditional Greek dancing. We all merrily join in!

Next up is a photo shoot and then it is time for lunch.  Again delicious savoury pies and many equally delicious sweets.

After lunch we visit the local medicinal hot springs to have a relaxing swim.

In the evening we prepare for our ‘goodbye’ dinner. There is live music and once again the food is delicious. We have been told beforehand that it is very impolite not to drink tsipouro, a kind of ouzo, at a farewell party!  Traditional music is being played and local folk dance the traditional Greek dances. This time we are able and happy to join in as we were taught the dances this morning at the school. It is lovely to notice that that traditional dancing is kept alive here. Around 2 o’clock we arrive back at our hotel.

After a short night we enjoy our final breakfast. We look back at the week with satisfaction.   It was a good start of the project!

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About the project

“Promoting the social inclusion of our disadvantaged students through the knowledge of the rich European cultural heritage/history”

This is a project that involves 10 European countries.  By working together and teaching our students about the culture and heritage of each participating country we aim to make a positive impact and improve the social inclusion of our disadvantaged children through the knowledge of the cultural heritage of this rich multicultural group. During our visits toe ach country we will work together on themes as cooking and language classes as well as music and folk dancing, learning with and from each other

We consider that our project will help all participants to open and extend their horizons and improve contact and communication with individuals and groups from different countries. At the same time we hope it will contribute in promoting the social inclusion of our disadvantaged students, who are our main target group by enhancing their access, participation at the project and their learning performance. These students will be actively engaged  in all learning and teaching activities. They will work together with all the other participating students, in order to accomplish all activities and contribute as much as they can. They will have the opportunity to learn more about other countries, their culture and history. At the same time their communication skills will improve and this will help them raise their self-esteem and confidence.

This project runs over a period of three years, 2017-2020, and we meet approximately 10 times. All partnerschools are elaborating specific common project activities, exchanging work and contact one another through e-mail communication and scheduled project meetings and exchanges. Our activities and project results are focused on the theme of our project, related with cultures of participating countries. We are creating books about traditions-celebrations and traditional cooking of all partner countries, a project calendar with pictures of celebrations-traditions, CDs of local traditional songs and music, DVDs on our country, hometown, schools, teachers and pupils and on the cultural presentations of hosting countries.  We also organize yearly exhibitions in each school with products of activities and establish a project web page which we update on a regular basis.

While working on this project, our students, teachers and educational authorities learn more about Europe and appreciate the differences and similarities of the cultural background, schooling and local diversities, exchange significant experiences and accept cultural and linguistic differences, raising a positive attitude to the united Europe.