THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
Our starting point was that all participating countries (France, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Turkey) have experienced immigration. Some countries have witnessed primarily the movement of people away from their country, others towards it. Our aim was to study the phenomenon, and by bringing our students into direct contact with some of the actors, to help them better understand the reality and help decide whether we’re moving towards greater integration. The communication language was English. The partnership was made out of 6 institutions from 6 European countries:
1. Lycée du Granier, La Ravoire Cedex, France- Coordinating Institution, http://www.acgrenoble.
2. Georg Büchner-Gymnasium, Seelze, Germany , http: //gbgseelze.de
3. Istituto Comprensivo Fumane “Lorenzi B.'',Verona, Italy , http: //www.europole.org
4. Liceum Ogólnokształcace in Tarnów, Poland, www.iii-lo. tarnow.pl
5. Mihai Eminescu National College, Baia Mare, Romania, http://cneminescu.licee.edu.ro
6. Bursa Polis Koleji / Bursa Police College, Bursa, Turkey, http://www.bursapoliskoleji.k12.tr
Obviously a key objective was linguistic. English was the common language and students saw its importance as a tool of international communication. By studying closely the movement of peoples within Europe and by coming into contact with immigrants who spent prolonged periods of time away from their homeland we aimed to develop an understanding of the intercultural dimension in European societies. In today’s expanded Europe, given the increasing ease with which people can cross borders and find work outside their own country, it seems vital that our students be able to communicate constructively in different social situations and tolerate the views of those whose origins and background are different from their own. We worked on the measures taken by governments throughout Europe to overcome stereotypes and prejudices and ensure that immigrants arriving are as well integrated as possible. The central issue was whether we are moving towards greater integration of the immigrant population within the EU in general and each country in particular. The question of identity was of key importance in any discussion involving closer integration of the immigrant population. Is it desirable for immigrants to strive to remain loyal to their origins or should they aim to assimilate the culture, language and traditions of their adopted land? What are the consequences of the opening of borders within the EU and the freedom to move and work elsewhere? How do indigenous populations react to the influx of EU nationals in large numbers? How have West European governments reacted to the arrival of increasing numbers of Eastern Europeans? What are the consequences for Eastern European countries which have witnessed a massive outflow of citizens away from their country towards the West? What problems has this emigration created and how are they dealing with it?
Having introduced the theme to students, we asked all participants to prepare individual profile sheets posted on the project web site created by Romania so that all could get to know each other as quickly as possible. With this aim in mind we all worked on presentations of our countries, our regions and schools to be made during the first meeting in France. Time was also spent in class preparing presentations on the theme of immigration to and emigration from our respective countries for this first meeting. Students were shown the film 'It's a Free World' and debates organized to discuss the issues raised in the film. Students produced written reports on their reaction to the film and the debates. We produced a common questionnaire in mixed nationality groups to know how students perceive immigrants in each country. The answers to the questionnaire were presented during the second meeting in Romania and comparisons made. At the start of the second year teachers from all countries pooled teaching material on the theme of immigration to raise awareness of important issues related to the subject in class. Immigrants were interviewed in each country, the interviews translated into English and posted on the common web site so that all could learn from these varied experiences. We also filmed immigrants, produced English subtitles and showed our films during project meetings in Germany and Turkey. Before the final meeting students prepared presentations on news items related to immigration treated by our respective media. These were posted on the common web site and a selection presented during the final meeting. We concluded by creating posters to illustrate lessons learnt during the two years of the project.
A key objective was linguistic. All the activities we planned involved students using English as a tool of communication. All the work students created (be it essays, reports, interviews, presentations, etc) required students to express themselves in English. Students improved their presentation skills. Both before, during and after project meetings students worked on presentations related to the theme of immigration to be made in front of their classmates as well as students from the other five countries. They improved their use of software such as Powerpoint.
Students learnt how to create a questionnaire and how to exploit the results in the form of graphs.
They dialogued with immigrants who have spent prolonged periods away from their homeland and so developed a better understanding of the intercultural dimension of European societies. Given the increasing ease with which people can now crossborders, live and work in neighboring countries we wanted students to communicate constructively in different social situations with people whose origins are different from the students'. This we helped to achieve thanks to the interviews with immigrants.
We also worked to overcome racial stereotypes and tried to show the positive action that governments can and have taken to improve integration. Many of the presentations prepared for the final meeting in Turkey offered excellent examples of these measures.
We managed to produce a website and a blog of the project which presented all the products : http://www.immigrants-past-andpresent. Eu http://immigrants- past-andpresent. blogspot .com
The blog was a real diary and the feedbacks of the students and teachers are valuable testimonies of the impact of the project upon all participants.
We produced an interesting survey on Immigration which is available in the Volume of the Conference to be found on the site of the project.
Mihai Eminescu National College from Baia Mare had been awarded the European Label in 2008 for the Comenius project "Higher quality in education with family support". This contributed a lot ot the raising prestige of our school in the local , national and even international educational community.
That is why we took the decision to apply with our project" Immigrants Past and Present. Towards Better Integration" for a new European Label competition. Another reason was the fact that our project proved to be very popular with our students and it contributed a lot to improving their language competences in English. Besides that the educational aspects related to tolerance, respect, team spirit made us wish to share these with other people.
After receiving the European Label certificate for the second time the local media presented the achievement. This way the prestige of our school was raised. The results were presented to the teachers from Maramures during the professional meetings. PowerPont presentations were made and presented to teachers of English and to the parents of the students from our school. Our foreign partners were very much impressed and happy for having contributed to this success. Colleagues from other schools from maramures followed our example and got involved in this competition.
We consider a very important benefit the self evaluation of our work and then the external evaluation of our project results. Many parents were positively impressed by these results. They decided to enroll their children in our school as they liked very much the involvement in European projects.
The two projects also were well appreciated in the competition "Made for Europe" and the winning of the certificates in 2008 and 2010 also contibuted to winning the certificate " European School" for the third time.
By participating in the Award Ceremony we came into contact with other teams and found out intersting things about their projects. This was definitely an enriching experience both for students and teachers who had been offered such an opportunity. The meeting of important officials was another aspect that can be mentioned. After a lot of work it is very encouraging to see people appreciate your efforts.
We consider that the participation in such competions is very important because even by filling in the form you are given the chance to evaluate your work in projects and consequently improve your daily activities in your work with students. By applying to such competitions you can get a very important feedback from those who evaluate your work. I kindly invite all collagues to get involved in such competitions.
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