Open minds and a sense of belonging
With the project ‘From ancestral to today’ the two schools Väike-Maarja Gümnaasium in Estonia and Sonkajärvi Lukio in Finland have focused on tolerance and multiculturalism. Through dialogue, creative activities and intercultural exchange, the aim of this Nordplus Junior project was to create a sense of belonging to a common Europe.
Here are some of the experiences from the project, told by the project coordinator:
We believe that we were successful in our work as we learned a lot during the project. Not only were the planned activities educational for everyone but also the experience of spending a week in another country and living in different conditions.
Our project started with a very successful logo competition – 38 students and 1 teacher took part in it. Another successful activity was writing an interactive book where two school took turns writing chapters for the book about our epic heroes. The book was published in our website.The book is not finished yet as we decided to continue it this year, but the opening lines were promising: “Once upon a time in a land far far away lived a mighty peasant family – Linda and her husband Kalev. They had a powerful son – Kalevipoeg.”.
When we asked our students what was interesting or new to them then we got many different answers. Some said that visiting an historical castle in Rakvere or different museums was the most interesting thing, while others found for example cooking national dishes and singing in a foreign language interesting. Estonian students especially liked participating in lessons in Sonkajärvi Lukio.
It appeared that one thing Estonians and Finns have in common is our love for sports. Not only did we hold a friendly match in floorball but we also learnt folk dances, figure skating etc. As in 2010 Estonian Folk Dance and Folkmusic association announced the movement “Kaerajaan to Europe” then we taught Estonia's most popular folk dance Kaerajaan to our neighbours.
We benefited from the project a lot. Participating in the project gave our students a chance to practice English out of the classroom, they got many new friends with whom they are still communicating and hopefully will keep this interaction alive. It also taught them how to manage in different situations and gave them a wider scope on life.
The project can be concluded with an Estonian saying - “Let us be Estonians (Finns), but also become Europeans!”.