Getting to know 'eu'
BALBRIGGAN Community College has been celebrating entering the final phase of a two-year programme that has seen it co-operate with, visit and host schools from Finland, Germany and Italy to foster new bonds and new understanding with our European neighbours.
The Balbriggan Community College 'Comenius' experience stemmed from the successful German school exchange between Balbriggan and St. Wendel.
Comenius is a European Inter-Schools Project, also called a Multi-Lateral School Partnership and in the case of Balbriggan Community College, involved three other schools from around Europe.
The three schools involved were Gymnasium Wendalinum in Saarland, Germany, Eurojoen Yhteiskoulu in Eurajoki in Finland and ITC Colamonico in Acquaviva delle Fonti, near Bari in Italy.
It is a two year project (2012 - 2014) and the scheme is funded by the E.U. The fund is distributed in Ireland through Léargas.
This funding allows groups of students and teachers have direct experience of each other's education system and culture, through inter-cultural exchanges.
The project theme is to compare and contrast the humour enjoyed by our European friends and neighbours in St. Wendel, Eurajoki and Acquaviva delle Fonti.
The idea is that each country acts as host nation for a week. Students and staff travel to each country and participate in classes, workshops, presentations and team events.
The purpose of each visit is to build up a body of work amongst the combined student body which is presented at the end of each week.
It is also placed on a dedicated international website. http://comenius4nations.eu
Students involved in Comenius, guided by staff, research and prepare tasks in advance of the exchanges (e.g. a study of national stereotypes, comedians, cartoonists, colloquial humour, T.V. programmes). This body of work is also presented when abroad.
Students stay with host families. They work and play with their counterparts whilst enjoying the sights, tastes and experiences on offer. In doing so they benefit from a unique opportunity to live and experience an alternative life style and culture.
It is a whole school project. In addition, because the support of parents and families are required, it is a community project. In Balbriggan's case Brian Murray, Town Clerk of Balbriggan Town Council and his staff have been incredibly supportive of the venture.