It was a great experience to take part in this project as I really gained a lot. At the very beginning it was a great challange to pareticipate in th Kick-Off-Meeting and got all the helping hand and enthusiasm. Returning home it was amazing how open and enthusiastic both the students and the teachers were. As we had great partners we could start working immediately and we learnt a lot: accept and to be accepted, tolerate and to be tolerated, open and to be opened, help and to be helped, We also learnt good techniques how to deal with conflicts instead of avoidiong them. We could also get to know new cultures, places and make new friends. It was also interesting to see how copnflicts -appeared during the project- were solved. I also enjoyed the different workshops and the different point of views.Moreover, I liked to see how much everybody enjoyed working together and joined one another.
The project started with the kick-off meeting in Slovakia, where we got to know each other and had the chance to attend very interesting workshops and get ideas for the project. This meeting was very well prepared and organised by the ACES team and really triggered our enthusiasm for the project.
Starting the project with the students was not without problems at the beginning as I realized that they did not know much about the partner countries and that there were lots of prejudices against Romanians and Hungarians. It was also not easy to find enough host families for the project meeting in Klagenfurt. But when the guests arrived in Klagenfurt for the first meeting the attitudes of the students changed quickly when they realised how nice the guests from the other countries were. We tried to mix up the students from the beginning by giving them a quiz to solve in mixed groups when visiting Minimundus, so they could also overcome the language problem. I think they enjoyed the project work at school with many games for getting to know each other and this really broke the ice. We of course also tried to show them as many sights of our country as possible and at the end of the visit I realised that the students had really become friends, enjoyed the time they spent together very much and were already looking forward to the next meeting in Hungary. Unfortunately I could not participate in the Hungarian meeting myself, but the students and teachers both reported that it was a great experience for them all.
Then the third meeting took place in Romania and it contained a lot of surprises. We were heartily welcomed at the school by the students, the teachers and the headmaster. Denisa had really prepared a lot for us at this meeting and everything was perfectly organised. We were guided through the school and a lot of things were presented to us (including trying out origami ourselves). The students enjoyed the project work activities in the group very much. But the greatest surprise was the celebration of Women’s Day on Tuesday. There was not only a great programme with choir and solo singing, dance performances and an amazing fashion show with clothes made of paper, but what we enjoyed most was the 8th of March dinner with chatting and dancing and a delicious five course meal. On this evening we really realized how nice and communicative Romanian people are and we realized how important our project is regarded to be for the whole school. The castle tour on Wednesday was amazing and contained apart from the tours through Bran and Peles castle also a thrilling experience for the kids at the haunted castle. So it was all a very well balanced programme that contained lots of communicative periods for the students including the games at the farewell evening. Throughout the days of our stay we always had the feeling that we were perfectly taken care of. Chris was a great taxi driver who always picked us up wherever we had to go and also took care of forgotten rucksacks, Christine was very caring and explained everything to us in English and the mastermind behind it all was Denisa who really managed to make these days an unforgettable experience for us. So at the end when we had to say good bye after the city tour through Campina it was really hard for us to leave. The days were so full of interesting sights, new impressions and great experiences that it seemed that we had been there much longer and we would definitely like to come back.
Generally I think this was a project that contributed a lot to a better understanding between the participants of the three countries. It helped the students to overcome prejudices and see former eastern block states from a different perspective. Meeting young people of their own age made them realize that they are European citizens like we are with the same ideas, the same dreams, the same problems. They got an insight into the lives of young people in Hungary and Romania and started friendships across the borders. I think this interpersonal communication is the most important aspect of the project. (Elisabeth Grumet)
Dear Romanian friends!
Having returned to Austria, I would like to send you many thanks for your warm welcome in Campina. Deeply impressed by the friedliness and helpfulness of all the people in Romania I´m going to tell all my friends in Austria about my positive experience. The differences of our countries might be considerable, but the common interests in trade, history and tourism should bring us closer to each other again.
The enthusiasm of our students about being warmly received in their host families, about the various subjects your students could take part (music, art and fashion) and about your hospitality is unanimous. You can be proud of your country and people. Besides your cultural treasures, your joy of life shown at Woman´s Day will remain in my memory for ever.
Well, at the end a short statement to the students of Energetic Vocational
High School. Be thankful and proud of your parents, your headmaster and teachers of your school who made it possible that exchanges like this can take place.
My special thanks to Denisa, Christina and Cris, your organisation was perfect you did a wonderful job, thank you so much!!
In April, 2010 we applied for the ACES grant optimistic, but also a little nervous. It was a big step into the unknown for us, as we were the first teachers of our school who were planning to take part in the ACES project. But the positive experiences we have had so far outlasted all of our expectations.
However, first it was difficult for us to find host families for the Austrian and Romanian students as our students had lots of prejudices towards these two nationalities. So we decided to create a website for a better and easier communication between partners. We uploaded the introductions of students taking part in the project (and all the photos taken later during the project meetings).
But when we arrived in Klagenfurt for the first project meeting, the Austrian studenst were so friendly that all our uncertainties were gone in a second. The Austrian students turned out to be great hosts, which made it easy for our students to settle in. Almost immediately they seemed to be included in lots of things by people they had only just met. It was a good opportunity for them to combine some learning experience about solving conflicts with fun and new adventures. The environment was really spectacular, the although it was raining, we really liked the visit to Maria Saal and Hochhosterwitz. At the end of our visit, it was hard to say goodbye to our new friends and we were looking for the next project meeting which was in January, in Budapest.
In Budapest the students and the teachers greeted each other again with great enthusiasm. Fortunately, the weather was mild for winter, so we were able to include some sightseeing in the programme as well as activities about preventing conflicts and being assertive in conflictual situations. In the farewell evening we played the game „Mission Impossible” that we had learnt in the kick-off meeting in Senec, and both the students and the teachers had a great time.
Then came the last project meeting in Campina, Romania. When we arrived in the school exhausted after a 15-hour long journey by train, we were warmly welcomed by the students with home-made bread. Then during our visit we experienced the kindness and generosity of the people on numerous other occassions. The meeting was perfectly organized, all the members of the school made a great effort to make us feel at home. What surprised me most was how friendly and easy-going everyone was – especially on 8th March, International Women’s Day, which is a very important celebration in Romania, and in this school we could see an amazing programme, including a choir, a dance show, poems, a fashion show with clothes made of paper, and last but not least a five-course, very hearty dinner and we could also see the teachers dancing together!
The next day we went on a trip and visited two beautiful castles (Bran and Peles) and the unique Haunted Castle where we were scared to death by real people wearing frightening masks! In the evening the farewell party was great fun the only problem was it ended too quickly. On the last day of our visit we went to some museums and even had the opportunity to go into a real Orthodox church. To sum up, the sentence ’It’s the people that make the place’ has never made more sense to me than during this visit and I’d like to thank you for Denisa, Christi and Christina for all the work they had done to make our visit a really memorable experience.
As for the whole project, the most certain experience for the students was to find out that even among all these cultural, economic and language differences there are a lot more similarities than they had expected.
I can´t go to school because I am sick.
If I walk out my house I’ll get hit by a brick.
I can’t go to school because I’m afraid. On my way there I might get run over by a huge parade.
I can’t go to school because I have a funereal to attend. School uniforms just aren’t the new trend.
I can’t go to school because I woke up late. I broke my thumb while learning how to skate.
I can’t go to school because I feel a little blue. My brother stuck my hands together with supper glue.
I can’t go to school because school is boring. I wonder what excuses I’ll have tomorrow morning!
\"I can\´t go to school\" By: Jasmine Shipp