This week I had the chance to host a Catalonian student. During the week we did a lot of activities with all the people who participated to the project. It was definitely a unique experience because I got to know a few different cultures and a lot of new contacts.
Monday morning we met all the international students and their hosts. In the afternoon we did a big city game with everyone, which was very fun. I think it was very nice for the international students to get to know Ghent in a fun and playful way.
Tuesday I didn’t participate to the project during the day but in the evening we went with almost everyone for a drink. Because of this, our guests had the chance to taste the real Belgian beer. We also let them taste French fries and, of course, they really liked it.
Wednesday we were free in the morning so the Catalonian people and their hosts (so including me) went to Ghent again because the Catalonians wanted to go shopping and discover Ghent. In the afternoon we split up in three groups. My group had a philosophy class, which was very interesting but I didn’t really get what this had to do with volunteer work.
Thursday we went to the largest British cemetery from World War One with people from a retirement home. It felt really good to do something for them because I really think they appreciate what we do for them. We also visited Bruges where we got some free time to get something to eat. During the week it was very nice that the teachers sometimes gave us free time. Because of that we could do our own thing instead of always sticking to the schedule.
Now it’s Friday morning so tomorrow we will bring our hosts back to the train station. The whole project was a once in a lifetime experience and I definitely don’t regret my participation.
(16y, Belgian student)
First of all, when we got into the airport, we lost the first flight, so we had to wait and spend there 6 hours.
Then ,we took the next flight, and we finally arrived at 17:30 to Belgium. Once there, we went to the school of our hosts, that’s called Sint-Janscollege and there we received a warm welcome of the teachers and the students that were involved in this project. After, everybody went at home with their host partner to get to know the hole family.
We had to stay at the school at 9 am. with all the people that came from different countries. There, the director gave to us an opening speech, we played a Kahoot together, we posted some the flags, and we learned a lot of culture from around the world. Then we went to the campus Visitatie, to the cemetery Campo Santo and to the campus Heiveld.
I think I’ve never stayed in a cemetery as big as this, so was a really amazing experience. Also, I met very sweet, kind and friendly people there and I could be opened to people and got out of my comfort zone very quickly.
In the afternoon we did a really fun game around the city, and there I could met some more interesting people.
We went with the train to Dainze and we visited the Oxfam Wereldwinkel, that is a fair trade shop. That was really good to think that those places exist to help to stop the economic inequality where we live in.
Later I was for my first time in a Thrift Shop. Despite I didn’t buy anything, was really nice of being there. In a few hours we talked with a refugee. I think this are things that are hard to heard, but also that make realize you how lucky you are.
On Wednesday, we spent all the morning with my classmates from Spain to bought some clothes and souvenirs from here. Then, the students of each country were divided into 3 groups to do different kind of activities. In my group, we stayed in a beautiful indoor place with a nice teacher that gave us a sheet filled with philosophy questions and were debating about them. It was nice to share and got to know all the points of view of each others and to talking about those deep conversations.
On the evening we went bowling with all the students together, and I enjoyed that so much because I spent a really good convivence with them and I finally won the game.
We went to Burges and to the battlefields of World War 1 with elderly and disable people that we had picked up from the retirement home. Also, we went to the cemetery where the people who died in the battle were. There, each country recited the poem called The Fields
of Flanders in their language. Then, we went to visit Bruges to have lunch, and there was a park where we could try the swing and a weird slide where we spent many time.
Finally we took the bus and we came back to Ghent. There I spent a nice chilling time with my new friends from here.
Now we are on Friday and we have written this essay while some people were backing some cookies for sick people. We are going to have an international meeting with the Amnesty to bring those cookies to patients or elder people at home and then we will have to say goodbye to our host families and friends.
Judit De Haro
COMMUNITY SERVICES in GHENT!!
This week I have visited Belgium because my school is part of a project called Erasmus+. I came to Belgium with five of my classmates, Víctor, Mireia, Anna, Claudia and Judit, and with two of my teachers, Marc and Joan.
We arrived on Sunday the 22nd of April to Belgium and then we took a train to arrive to Ghent. When we arrived to Ghent, we were picked by our hosts and Víctor and I stayed at the city to drink something.
The next day we went to the school at nine because they had to explain to us what we were going to do during the whole week. Once we finished that, we went to class with our host, Víctor and I went to the same class, Dutch class, and we did not understand anything L. Then we went in a tour with all the students around the school and a cemetery, and when we finished that we went to have lunch in the other building of the school. There Víctor began playing with a cloth called “Dapo” and all the other people were looking at us because they did not know what we were doing. During the afternoon we did a city game with different quests, then we went home.
On this day we had to wake up early because we were going to take a train to Deinze at half past eight. When we arrived at Deinze they explained us what is a fair trade shop and how the food banks are here in Belgium. Finally we had a conversation with a refugee, we made a potluck, and when we finished we began doing different activities, I went for a walk with elderly people and after that we went back to Ghent.
On Wednesday, we had a free morning, and I went with my classmates and my teachers to the centre of Ghent to buy some stuff such as souvenirs, clothes, etc. When our free morning finished, there were three different activities that we could: visiting a museum, walking with dogs from a dog shelter, and going to a philosophy class. Everybody wanted to go with the dogs, but not everybody could, so I finally went to the philosophy class, I thought that the class will be boring but finally I was very interested in it. Then we went to a sports bar and we played bowling, and when the bowling finished some people went home, but I stayed there with Víctor, Claudia and Lotte and Tine, that are the hosts of Claudia, and with Marc and Joan. We played pool with them!!
On Thursday we took a bus to Bruges, and during the trip we were stopping in different iconic Belgium places (a cemetery, a WW1 memorial…). We arrived at Bruges at six in the evening and we had some free time. We visited this beautiful city! Around eight, we took the bus again to return to Ghent. Once there, some of us stayed in the city and had fun while the others went home with their respective hosts.
Today is Friday, and while some of us write a report of the whole week, the rest have to cook some cookies and pancakes for amnesty international.
To come to Belgium in Barcelona we lost the flight that was at 7 a.m and we had to wait for the next one that was at 12 a.m.
This week has been very good people here is very nice and treats you super well are very open, and the classmates with whom I have come are very funny and I had a great time, the boys and girls of the other countries are very friendly too, but the Turks do not speak English.
The city is very beautiful and very different from Barcelona, Barcelona is all buildings and floors, and here in Ghent everything is houses and cathedrals or churches.
The school is very big and very cool, it is very similar to ours, the teachers are very pleasant to the students.
The activities here are well planned, but if you have the same luck that I have had and you have the activity that you don’t like,you will think that the activities are so bored because you don’t enjoy them. I have had to endure and do all the things that I don’t I like them, for example, with dogs and they have gone to the museum alone, and today I wanted to cook cookies or pancakes and I didn’t do it, on the other hand the free time and such have been very good
On Sunday we were supposed to pick our Catalonian guests up at 4 PM, but they missed their plane, so they were a little late. That day we didn’t do a lot, we just talked until she was tired and wanted to go to bed.
The following day, we were supposed to be at school at 9 for a welcoming speech, it was pretty boring, but afterwards there were cookies and stuff to make it up. After that there were some awkward ballgames and a tour of the school and the cemetery next to our school. For lunch we had French fries with stew, a typical Belgian dish and after that there was a city game in Ghent. I think everyone really enjoyed it and that it was a nice way to discover the city. Afterwards, we let our guests drink some Belgian beer for the first time and they really liked it. In the evening we just went home and watched some tv, but my guest was pretty tired, so she went to bed around 9.
Tuesday we went to Deinze by train. No one understood why, because there’s really nothing to see there, but one of our teachers does a lot of volunteering and he lives there, so we went there to go take a look at the food banks, talk with 2 Syrian refugees and go help in the fair trade store from Oxfam. During lunch we did a potluck with food that everyone brought here from their own country. When we arrived back in Ghent, we went out to go eat French fries and drink some beers. I had to leave early, but my sister stayed there until 11 together with our guest.
The day after, we didn’t had anything planned in the morning, so our guests wanted to go to the city with the other Catalonian students and their teachers to go shopping for clothes and souvenirs. We split up and just went for a drink with the hosts. At 12:30, we met again with them and went to the place where we had to go in the afternoon. My sister, my guest and I had to go to a philosophy class, where we had to answer philosophical questions and stuff, but again, my sister and I had to leave early, so a friend of mine watched out for my guest during the rest of the afternoon and the evening.
Yesterday, we went to Bruges, to go pick up some elderly people in a retirement home. We then went to an English cemetery from WWI with them. We then read the poem In Flanders Fields in Hungarian, Portuguese, Catalan, Turkish and Dutch. We also all got a rose to put on a grave of one of the casualties. We went back on the bus and at the next stop we went to an artwork for all the fallen soldiers from WWI named Coming World Remember Me. It was a big field, filled with a lot of small figures and each little figure represented a soldier. It was really impressive. When we got back on the bus, we drove through Ypres and through the menin gate. After that we drove straight back to the retirement home and when they all were back we went to go eat something in Bruges with the whole group: French fries (again).
Today we are baking cookies and pancakes for people in the retirement home here in Sint-Amandsberg and also making pitta’s for the people at our school who are making the effort of writing a letter for Amnesty International. We are also going to write a letter and then tonight me, my sister, my guest, a friend of mine and his guest are going to go out to go eat French fries and tonight there will be a little party in a park here in the neighbourhood.