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The Long Road to Poland; A Meeting of European Partners, Teachers and Students!

On a cold November morning in Katowice, Poland, Partners of the Schools for Future Youth Project Team, teachers and students from Italy, Poland, Cyprus and the UK came together to begin a week long programme of activity. The aim of the week was to physically connect teachers and young people who had already been involved in the Project and for them to learn more about how the SFYouth online materials and mobile phone app will work. This trip marked the beginning of the second phase of the Project, which will bring in an additional 40 schools across Europe to trial the exact resources we were getting feedback from in Poland.

On a cold November morning in Katowice, Poland, Partners of the Schools for Future Youth Project Team, teachers and students from Italy, Poland, Cyprus and the UK came together to begin a week long programme of activity. The aim of the week was to physically connect teachers and young people who had already been involved in the Project and for them to learn more about how the SFYouth online materials and mobile phone app will work. This trip marked the beginning of the second phase of the Project, which will bring in an additional 40 schools across Europe to trial the exact resources we were getting feedback from in Poland.

While the Project Team were a little nervous about integrating Partners, teachers and students, we needn't have worried. Teenagers, whatever their background, have the ability to make friends and share experiences with each other in a way that many adults find self-conscious. Everyone was soon getting along like they were old friends.

The strong working relationships the group quickly forged meant the project workshops were productive and successful. It was especially pleasing that the usual barriers between ‘teachers’ and ‘students’ came down and everyone worked together as equal participants. We had a couple of hiccups with WiFi and computers not working, but these didn’t hold us up. By the end of the week we’d completed testing the resources and written action plans for each of our schools.

The formal project meeting was only one part of the week. On the second day of the exchange, we visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, one of the key sites of Nazi Germany’s mass extermination of European Jewry. Everyone in the group had studied the Holocaust in history, but few were prepared for the sheer scale and horror of what they witnessed. Afterwards the International Youth Meeting Centre  ran a reflective workshop which helped us all to make sense of what we’d experienced and bear witness with stronger hope and optimism.

The tone was lighter for the rest of the week kicked off by participating in the Fair Train Game in Katowice city centre. The Fair Train Game is an activity organised by our Polish host school, Szkol Handlowych, is run for over 20 school groups from Katowice and neighbouring Silesia and is designed to promote global awareness. Teams move between checkpoints dotted across the city centre where they meet challenges – ranging from sewing a t-shirt to collecting a Fair Trade petition or giving a media interview – and answer related questions. Each National Team finished the circuit with seconds to spare and gained a respectable number of points compared with the other local participating schools!

For the final part of the week, we caught the train to Warsaw. During the week all of the students had visibly grown in confidence, contributed thoughtfully and sensitively and were outstanding representatives of their respective school.  It was wonderful to work with such dedicated teachers who demonstrated the commitment, creativity and passion which we believe makes the schools we've chosen to participate in the Project, some of the best in Europe. Everyone returned home at the end of the week tired and ready for their beds, but can all look back proudly on a highly successful week.

Many thanks to all of the Hub Schools that participated in the trip and to Polish Humanitarian Action for making it all happen.



Schools for Future Youth Project Team