Report Alkmaar 2019 – 1st exchange

By , November 25, 2019 12:44

No time to Waste – Part 1 

Alkmaar 2019

A group of sixteen German pupils and two accompanying teachers arrived at Alkmaar’s train station on Sunday, November 13. There, they were welcomed by a group of Dutch students, with whom they would be staying for the next few days as part of an international collaboration project. 

All activities in this year’s program are designed for a new project about environmental awareness. We expect that financial support will be granted by the Erasmus+ program of the European Union for a project that will take place in the following two school years. 

PCC Het Lyceum and the Georg Büchner Schule from the twin cities Alkmaar and Darmstadt work together in this pilot project. Next year, Lycée Les Lombards from Troyes, another twin city, will join them to file the Erasmus+ application together. 

The project is called: No time to waste and is all about the ecological impact caused by daily use of energy, water, food and (disposable) materials. The program aims to raise awareness among the participating students about their ecological footprint: in what way does their way of living harm the environment?

On Monday the group is welcomed at school by Mrs. Van Dam, member of the school’s management team and Mrs. Hoogenhout, who developed the pilot program and who is the driving force behind the project. 

In the school’s sports hall, the students engaged in cooperation games that helped them to get to know each other better. 

Later that morning, the students started to work on the assignment about their ecological footprint. They had to figure out what their own ecological behaviour looks like. They investigated to what extent damage is caused to the earth by buying clothes, by traveling, by buying and wasting food, by using water, electricity, plastic, drugs and cosmetics. The research provided them with ample information to calculate their own ecological footprint and grade it on a scale from 1 to 10 (small to big impact). For some students, the calculated grade was as expected, others were (un)pleasantly surprised. 

On Tuesday, the students had one-on-one conversations about their findings. A speed dating set up gave all students the opportunity to talk to each other. This gave them a better insight into each other’s habits and lifestyle, in differences and similarities. In many cases the conversations inspired students to think about new ways to incorporate sustainable use of goods and energy in their daily routine. 

To spread their acquired insights, the students made videos to publish on social media. They worked together in small groups. The contents of the videos had to be about climate consciousness. The students had to think of a challenge to generate more attention for the state of our world and the environment. 

A visit to the Town Hall of Alkmaar was another highlight of the exchange. The city Elderman, Mrs. Konijn, received them. She spoke a word of welcome on behalf of the city of Alkmaar and made sure that everybody got a cup of coffee or tea before the debating contest started. The students debated in groups about issues such as: roles and responsibilities of individual citizens, the introduction of meat tax and garbage recycling laws and a proposal to replace some of the obligatory math and language lessons by lessons about climate change. Some really strong statements were made when they discussed the feasibility and effectiveness of general European policies and laws on sustainability and climate. 

In the evening, the mood was calmed and disputes were forgotten when they all had dinner together and enjoyed a game of bowling. 

On Wednesday everybody engaged in an empowerment activity: Cross-the-line. This activity helped to reflect upon experiences with feeling (dis)empowered and allowed to connect even more with one another. Afterwards, they talked in smaller groups with their teachers. The activity encouraged the students to open up and freely share their thoughts on climate change. 

The official part of the exchange came to an end with the presentation of Movies that Matter. These were the videos the students made earlier this week. The challenges that they had come up with were, for example, ‘The Trash Can Challenge’ – which emphasized the amount of waste that is produced daily and ‘No Mobile Monday’ – turn your phone off for a day to save energy. 

On Thursday, the German students paid a visit to Amsterdam and did a canal tour before traveling back to their homes.  

We are looking forward to seeing them again in Darmstadt, for the second part in this exchange project, because there’s No time to Waste! 

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