Na 20 maanden konden we de draad van het Erasmus+ CHoC-project terug in levende lijve opnemen.
Van 8 tot 16 oktober hebben Peter Parmentier, Els Danschutter en vijf leerlingen het project verdergezet op de Azoren. Het subthema was ‘Sugar in the Azores/ Angra do Heroísmo – a World Heritage Site’.
De leerlingen verbleven een week in gastgezinnen en werden in het thema ondergedompeld. Met bakworkshops, een bezoek aan de historische haven en boeiende musea werd hun interesse geprikkeld. Maar bovenal was het samenleven met mensen uit een ander land, met een andere taal en cultuur een enorm spannende en verrijkende ervaring!
Het was een fantastische ervaring. Heel leuk om al die mensen te leren kennen van verschillende landen, iedereen was heel open en sociaal. We waren een hechte groep en iedereen kon het goed met elkaar vinden. Er waren leuke activiteiten en we leerden veel van het land. Het is ook leuk om eens te zien hoe het schoolsysteem van een ander land eruitziet, de verschillen en gelijkenissen. De school daar was wel heel modern en groot. Het is ook of dat we veel vrije tijd kregen die we zelf konden invullen, zoals in de zee gaan zwemmen of gaan shoppen in het stadje. Je kon gewoon afspreken met de mensen en leuke dingen doen. Het gastgezin was heel lief en deden veel om je op je gemak te stellen. Kortom, het was een fenomenale ervaring om nooit meer te vergeten en ik ben heel dankbaar dat ik dit mocht doen.
Wij deden een Erasmus uitwisseling naar de Azoren, Terceira Island. We vertrokken zaterdagochtend vol spanning naar Lissabon om zondag door te vliegen naar het eiland. Na het ontmoeten van onze gastgezinnen bleken die zenuwen, gelukkig, voor niets te zijn. Maandag maakten we kennis met de leerlingen van de andere landen. We deden een bingo kennismaking wat meteen uitdraaide op een gezellige samenhangende groep. De volgende dag gingen we naar het centrum. Een gezellig stadje vol culturele gebouwen waar we de cultuur een beetje beter leerden kennen. We sloten deze zonnige dag af met een spectaculaire boottocht. Na een dag in de stad was het tijd voor wat natuur. We trokken het binnenland in waar we een wandeltocht deden met wondermooie uitzichten. Daarna bezochten we een actieve vulkaan die gassen uitstoot. Het rook misschien wel naar rotte eieren, maar het was geweldig. Het bezoek in de vulkaan was de kers op de taart. Donderdag verkenden we ‘Castle Saint John Baptist’. Een actief militair centrum waar je verbluffende uitzichten kan vinden. We sloten de week mooi af met een workshop rond traditionele gebakjes. Dit was echt een ‘once in a lifetime experience’ dat ik nooit meer zal vergeten.
From the 11th to the 15th of October, the Tomás de Borba Elementary and Secondary School hosted, in the context of the Erasmus+ KA229 Culture & History of Cacao project, secondary school students and teachers from Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Spain and Portugal . This project of exchange of good practices started in 2019, suffered an interruption due to the pandemic, but managed to get authorization to its extension until 31st August 2022. European secondary schools from the mentioned countries participate in this project, each nationality being composed of teachers with background in history, geography, literature, science, English and religion and about 25 students per country aged between aged 14 and 17, with a total of 125 students travelling.
A few testimonials
We took the plane to Terceira and we were welcomed by the hosting families and the teachers, after doing a covid test. I was taken to lunch at “Quinta dos Acores”, a restaurant with a beautiful view of the city of Angra that selled local and fresh food (they actually had a factory next to the restaurant where they produced their own butter and cheese). After arriving home, my host and I went on a walk around the city.
My host family took me to a village named Biscoitos. Biscoitos is known for its natural pools, where people can freely swim. It was windy, therefore there were a lot of waves that broke on the lava stone rocks, giving a very suggestive appearance.
Monday was the first effective day of the Erasmus project, so we met at school at 8.30 with all the other participants of the project. Later we moved inside the auditorium-a breathtaking room, very similar to the ones you see in movies- where we listened to the introduction speech of the headmaster and the English teacher and to some musical performances of the students.
Then the Portuguese students made some presentations about Terceira and the way the islands are highly linked with sugar. We then engaged in some ice breaking activities like human bingo, which I can say were really helpful to start conversations with people from all the countries. After having a break -we tried the traditional sweets they told us about- we had a tour of the school, during which we could learn more about how the scholar system of Portugal was. We had lunch at the school canteen and then we followed a workshop on alfenim,a Portuguese sugar-based candy and we had the opportunity to shape it as we pleased.
Since it was the birthday of one of the participants, after finishing the activities we went bowling all together.
On Tuesday we met in Fanal Bay at 8.20 and we went walking to Patio de Alfandega where we saw the statue of Vasco da Gama and the front of the Igreja da Misericórdia. We then went inside it and visited the underground galleries where you were able to see the bones of the rich people that wanted to be buried in that sacred place. Later we went to Palácio dos Capitães Generais, the place where the mayor lived, and we learned about the history of the archipelago and its governors.
Afterwards we visited the Museu do Angra do Heroismo to learn more about the strategic importance of the islands regarding the commerce between europe and america.
Then we had a very fun activity: we were given a round piece of a material that had the consistency of paper and plastic, on which we could draw or write what we wanted. It was then put in the oven where it became smaller, ideal for a keychain! When we finished the activity we had lunch at the idyllic Botanical Gardens from where we took a staircase that landed us to the Memoria Obelisk, from where you could have a breathtaking view of the city. We went down and headed to the Palaset do Silver e Paolo. Half of us went up to the dome distinguished by its colorful stained glass windows and we were also able to walk around it, having a 360° view of the city.
On our way to meet the Mayor, we visited a few churches and eventually we were welcomed by him in the city hall. He held an interesting speech about Terceira that I found very captivating.
Because of the weather we had to anticipate Thursday’s boat trip around Mont brazil, and on our way to the harbour we received a traditional pastry filled with egg cream.
We departed at 09.00 to visit Baia da Salga and we walked following the traces of the old fortresses in Baia das Mos. We had a lunch break at a pretty picnic point in the woods and then proceeded to visit the Furnas do Enxofre, to see the volcanic smokes.
Finally, we visited the only accessible volcano in the word, Algar do Carvao. It was such a magical experience being inside of it, made even more fascinating by the constant light rain that there was. It surely was one of my favourite things about Terceira.
On Thursday we visited Saint John Baptiste Castle, the biggest of the island. We went to the church inside of it where we visited the old prisons. Then, since it was raining, we had a free afternoon.
We met up at school and had a workshop on traditional sweets made with chocolate and sugar: Rochedos and Donas Amelias. Thereafter, we took part in a team working project using different softwares, each group focusing on a different day of the project. Lastly we participated in a kahoot game about the whole experience.
It definitely was the most emotional day because we had to say goodbye to each other for what- we hoped not- was the last time.
This surely was an experience that changed me, i had the opportunity to learn new things about Portugal, specifically of Terceira and its culture. Meeting people from different countries of Europe was an experience that helped me look at things from a different point of view.
Being able to travel around the world to visit new places and to meet new friends has always been one of my biggest dreams.
This experience was such a great opportunity, because it gave me the occasion to meet people from different countries and to get to know their culture.
Also, I had the chance to travel and to practice English, to learn about the history of the hosting country and to experience things I had never had the possibility to do before.
Seeing how students from different parts of Europe live their school life was interesting and enlightening, too.
All the activities were pleasant and fun to do, and I particularly enjoyed walking around the city of Angra do Heroísmo, which is so different from the our cities I’m used to see and has a completely different origin.
I also found the boat trip amazing, because I had never seen the ocean before, and sailing it was such an awe-inspiring experience.
Lastly, as I especially like trails and being surrounded by nature, to me the Island of Terceira was sublime, and it had suggestive landscapes that left a really strong impression on me.
This Erasmus helped me grow a lot, by showing me different lifestyles and opinions, and even if It lasted only a week I will hold on to this happy memories for a really long time.
This year I had the opportunity to participate in the European project “Erasmus + Culture and his- tory of Cacao” which led me to spend 5 wonderful days on an incredible place in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores.
Personally, I found this experience extremely useful and enjoyable and It helped me grow as a person, student and citizen of the European community. It was my first time in a project like this so, at the beginning, I was a little worried but instead it turned out to be a very pleasant and inter- esting experience.
Thanks to this project I had the opportunity to visit wonderful places that I would never have vis- ited alone and to meet people who immediately made me feel comfortable and safe. In fact, the great thing about this project was meeting many young people of my age from different countries and being able to get to know new cultures and different languages. Thanks to this experience I have created strong bonds of friendship with many different people around Europe.
I also improved my English a lot thanks to my friends who helped me with new words and expres- sions. The activities were fun and engaging : my favorites were the visit of Algar do Carvao, the one and only visitable Vulcano of the world, end the workshops about Alfenim and Donas Amelias because I think they helped us to better understand and appreciate the history and culture of the Azores. I recommend this experience to everyone because it’s a really good opportunity to learn something new while having fun and spending time with many new friends.
Here is what teachers thought….
We arrived to the school on Monday morning with the other teachers. It was an eye-opener to say the least. Huge, kids everywhere, amazing schoolyard, great building.
Once the actual work started it was obvious that we were in for a busy, interesting, fascinating week. Yes, we knew the timetable of events in advance. However, what’s on paper and what happens in reality are not always the same thing. This time, though, it was as expected; spectacular!
There were small changes in the order of events, after all weather is all important on an island in the middle of the Atlantic! So, plans were changed accordingly. The QR code game/tour of the school was postponed becasue of rain. The boat trip was brought forward because of a major storm brewing and expected to hit land on the scheduled day. Our hosts made quick changes on the spot, the show must go on, as they say.
And on it went! We were quite busy every day. Afterall, we needed to learn about how sugar was brought there, how the islands were discovered, who controlled them, fought over them, etc. How was sugar, and cacao used in local cuisine, etc. Where to begin, we really did learn a lot!
In addition to the extremely well thought out workshops, tours, site visits, etc it was wonderful to see the entire Portuguese team, both teachers and students, go out of their way to accommodate any requests, needs, desires of their guests.
I would also like to mention that the locals we encountered were some of the friendlies, most hospitable people we have ever met in our travels. The food, the culture, etc, it all added to the splendor of the CHoC meeting in the Azores!