The most difficult year for a Galdakao high school student exchange programme
The pandemic has forced IES Elexalde, one of the Basque Country schools selected to develop a project within the European Erasmus+ programme, to delay the arrival of Greek students to March next year
Wednesday , 1st july 2020, 11:32
They had it all thought.They had been working on the 'Discover and share your identity mark' project for over a year, under the European programme Eramus+, and were ready to leave for the Greek city of Katerini. Their objective was clear: to transmit and discover the historical and cultural heritage of the Basque and Hellenic cultures. There was only one thing that the 19 students of the IES Elexalde didn’t count on: the COVID 18.
We arrived there on March 8 with the intention of returning on the 15th, but then the parents warned us that the situation was getting worse. We had to find a way back because our Sunday flight was about to be cancelled.
We had no choice but to return a day earlier" l Gema Gutiérrez one of the responsible for the project in the Galdakao high school regrets.
The pandemic is leaving in the air the second part of the student exchange. Those who had hosted our students for six days also had to travel to the Basque Country. The initial plan was going to be done in May. It could not be.
«It was impossible The state of alarm had been declared and the borders had been closed. The exchange has been postponed to March next year as this is an exceptional situation. If this had not been the case, the project would have had to be completed before the summer break, says the teacher.
Those who lived the experience in those turbulent days of March, remember that neither the preventive measures against the pathogen could prevent the students from enjoying their stay. In fact, some even appreciated that there were not so many outsiders.
"Despite the situation we were in, we were lucky enough to be able to make several visits around Katerini. One of my favorites was "Old Panteleimon", I thought it was a magical village and the fact that there were no tourists helped us enjoy it more. But without any doubt, what I liked the most was the relationship we have created with the group and that we continue to maintain", says Ane Aguirre, a student at the Galdakao secondary school.
An opinion that Ruben Azcona, another student from Elexalde school also shares. "Getting to know another country and its people was my motivation. I think that with this journey we have learned what individual responsibility is. It has been a unique experience, says the young student.
Activities with the Greeks
Although there are still many months ahead for Greek srudents to come, at IES Elexalde they have everything ready to welcome the fifteen students from Greece. "They will know the Basque mythology, the traditional dances by the local collective Andra Mari, and of course they will visit the capital and its museums, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and Gernika among others", says Gutiérrez. But that’s not all. They will also participate in a workshop of eskupilota, taught by Adiskide Eskupilota, and the group Ganguren Mendi Taldea will guide them through the Arrazola Greenway
We wanted to open our school through internasionalization to new realities, different from those we know in the local context.
2018 was the year of European cultural heritage and we are European citizens. Learning from our own cultural identity as well as being able to transmit it to another member of the European community, in this case Greece, was a very enriching experience.
The main objective of the project, which last two years, is to make our students aware of their cultural heritage, discover the cultural heritage of the school of Greece, to reflect on both and to share them with a respectful and tolerant mind. It has also helped to improve the level of English, the teacher adds. With the English department, teachers from other subjects have also participated in the initiative.