Saturday and Sunday the 9th and 10th of November, 46 students and their teachers arrived by train and plane from Germany, Poland and Finland in Almere, to be part of the Meergronden International Week. In April 2019 last schoolyear, our students from the Meergronden, then of H4t and V4t visited the students abroad in the Exchange Week. So it was a ‘hello again’ for the students now in H5t and V5t.
During this International Week, Meergronden students of H5t and V5t and their families hosted the foreign students. As a result we saw heart-warming relationships. The students took part in quite an intensive programme. The purpose of this is to develop communication and English language skills as well as the awareness of differences and similarities in culture on a local and a national level. This was the focus of several parts of the programme. The students took several workshops: dance, rap, drums and drama. In these workshops they prepared some acts for the final evening on Friday, when they presented them to an audience of parents, students and teachers.
Other activities during this week were painting a self-portrait in typically Dutch Delft Blue, joining a photo battle taking pictures of the students’ favourite places in Almere, participating in a sports-event climbing at Fun Forest, visiting the Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam, skating on ice in Leisure World Dronten and visiting the museums Nieuwe Land and Batavia in Lelystad. All-in all a close encounter with the Dutch culture and history of Holland, the polder and Almere.
A very strong learning opportunity is the time spent with the host families. The students experienced what daily life in a Dutch family feels like. Therefore we would like to express our gratitude to the parents and the students who made all of this possible by acting as host families and making the foreign students feel at home. Over the years we have seen friendships flourish between students and good relationships between teachers from different countries. This is the true goal of the School Exchange and International Week.
The success of this week was tangible at the final evening on Friday; there were 26 acts on stage, performed by 92 students. They showed what they had been doing during the week. Not only the Dutch parents could enjoy this show but also the foreign students’ parents were able to see it all on the Facebook page of the Meergronden in a livestream. Parents said that they could feel the good vibes of the students’ bonds. Students were paying attention, giving support, had fun and were appreciating the acts of the other groups. One of our Finnish guest-teachers, who experienced this International Week for the first time said: “this week is even more than we expected.” Our Finnish colleagues expressed their desire to take part in the programme again next year, just like our colleagues from Germany and Poland. We are very happy with this because our students of the current schoolyear H4t and V4t, have already given their preferences for the countries they would like to go to in April 2020 and subsequently receive students from in November 2020. We do hope the next International Week will be just as successful as the one we had this year.