Report Darmstadt November 2018

By , March 3, 2019 15:10

Report Darmstadt November 11 – 15, 2019

Sunday, November 11

We left by train from Alkmaar early. After a long day of travelling, our students finally got to meet their German exchange partners. Before that, the German, Dutch and French partners had only made digital acquaintance, through social media, when they were preparing for the exchange during the weeks prior to the trip. There was some nervousness among the students just before they arrived in Darmstadt.

However, after meeting with their ‘buddies’ in real, it only took a little time for the nervousness to disappear and soon our students were on their way to the homes and families of their exchange partners.

That evening the students shared with each other their first impressions and experiences in the German families and compared eating and living habits in the different countries

Monday, November 12 – Physical health

On Monday morning, the German, French and Dutch students met each other at the George Büchnerschule. The German teachers wished everyone a warm welcome. Then they gave a presentation with which they introduced the theme: “Mens sana in corpore sano” and went through the planning for the exchange week.

After some very nice ice breaking cooperation games and activities at the school, the students taught each other games with a relation to the topic ‘Health’. After each game, they had to answer the question: how would you incorporate this game into the lessons at your own school?

In the afternoon the students visited the city of Darmstadt and they did a city rally. The goal of the city rally was to find sites in Darmstadt with a focus on health.

Tuesday, November 13 – Physical and mental health

Today, we took a bus to Wiesbaden. We visited Schloss Freundenberg. In this museum, the students started with some free time to explore the exhibitions. The museum focuses on discovering through touch and feel, and learning through curiosity. In a dark room the students experienced what it feels like to be blind.

At 11:00 o’clock the workshop Wir-Sinn started. First, the students were asked to assess their own sense of health at that moment. During the workshop, the guides asked questions that made the students more aware of their senses: how often do you really notice what you feel, hear, taste, touch and smell? Could your well being benefit from a more conscious attitude to your sensory perception and to its causes and consequences?

Do we know of more senses than the five well known senses? Is love a sense? Is fear a sense? What do you think about fear? Is the fear we feel anything else than False Evidence Appear Real? To explore the world of sense, you need curiosity and you need to understand that senses are very personal and individual. The only way to understand your senses is to lose your fear.

In the sound room of the museum the group was divided in two groups: the musicians and the audience. The audience was asked to lay down on the floor. The musicians were asked to choose a director. The director led the musicians who played on different kind of gongs and other earth-sound instruments. The musicians created an experience of sounds for the audience group and after that, the group was asked what this experience of sounds meant to them.

In the ice room the students explored their sense of feeling and the effect of cold and talked about snowflakes. No snowflake looks the same, the reason being that all snowflakes are created under different circumstances. The parallel with growing up as human beings was obvious to the students.

The workshop finished with an exercise on balance. The students had to stand up together in a position that made it difficult to keep their balance. After a while the students discovered how to control the balance. They had to lose their fear and to work together. A relaxed pose with knees which were bent a little was more effective than a tense pose with straight legs.

All students were much inspired by everything they learned and experienced at Schloss Freundenberg. The students will certainly bring home their newly acquired insights on yoga, and share those with their schoolmates.

Wednesday, November 14 – Healthy food

Today the students compared the German, French and Dutch food culture. They showed the videos which they had made at home and at their own schools beforehand. These videos led to interesting discussions. Who has the responsibility to teach children about healthy food and helps them to develop healthy eating habits? What role can schools play? How can young people find out what information is correct, and what is not in the abundance of ideas on social media about healthy food? And how far reaches the influence of social media? Are young people brainwashed by social media about what food is healthy and what is not? Do young people pay more attention to their health and food habits because of social media?

With these questions, the students were asked to find the facts about healthy eating. They worked together in small groups. Then, the students presented the results of their research to each other. One group made a poster. They divided the poster into two sections: “healthy” and “unhealthy”. Then they asked the other students to put post-it notes, on which the names of food items were written, in one of the sections of the poster. Are fruit juices healthy or unhealthy? And what about peanut butter? This activity showed that some of the students had wrong ideas and misconceptions about some products.

With the information that was given in the presentations the students had to think of a recipe for a healthy meal. They went grocery shopping for ingredients and, with the help of a professional chef, in a professional kitchen, they cooked their healthy meals for themselves and for the other students and the teachers to enjoy!

Thursday 15/11/2018 Mental health

We all watched the videos about stress that the students prepared at home. These videos showed the causes of their stress and what they do to handle stress in their lives. Then, they discussed questions like: do young people feel more stress than adults, what can you do to cope with your own stress and with your friends’ stress?

In order to get to know more about these issues the professionals of Café Unplugged ( gave a workshop about mental health and mental discomfort.

The coaches started the workshop with questions about the (mis)conceptions of the students about mental illnesses: what do you already know about the topic and what more would you like to know about it? The students decided they would like to learn how to manage stress related to school. What can students and teachers do to prevent stress?

After the introduction, the students learned more about mental illness and mental health by doing both practical and theoretic assignments.

On a paper silhouette of a human body, the students had to put a sticker on the spot where they assumed the mind, psyche or soul is located. Most students placed a sticker on the head or heart of the paper figure. Then, the workshop coaches explained to the students the difference between mental illnesses and physical injuries, like breaking an arm. A mental illness can’t be seen on a scan, whereas a broken arm can be easily diagnosed. No clear boundaries exist between mental illness and mental health. The only person who can provide clarity about this, is the person who suffers from the problems himself.

The second half of the workshop, the students worked together in groups on one of three subjects:

  1. The WHO states: “Health systems have not yet adequately responded to the burden of mental disorders. As a consequence, the gap between the need for treatment and its provision is wide all over the world. In low and middle-income countries between 76% and 85% of people with mental disorders receive no treatment for their disorder. In high income countries between 35% and 50% of people with mental disorders are in the same situation”.

Can you think of reasons why treatment of mental illness is less developed than treatment of physical illness? Explain what you think should be done to change this.

  1. Are you familiar with first aid kits for the treatment of small injuries? What if there were first aid kits for the soul and mind? How can you get out of a bad mood? What can you do to reduce stress? What needs to be in a first aid kit in order to brighten your mood and to make you feel better in times that are challenging? And where can you get help for your problems?

Please put together a first aid kit for mental health.

  1. We want you to discuss how to deal with people who are affected by mental disorders. By now we have learned that there is nothing crazy about mentally ill people, that, instead, their reaction is normal according to their stress level.

Anna, a classmate of yours, who is going through hard times because a close family member recently died. How would you treat Anna? What may be helpful for her? And what wouldn’t? A good hint could be to imagine how you would like to be treated when in a similar situation.

The students showed their results to the rest of the group, in a presentation or by using drama.

At the end of the workshop two experts by experience shared their stories. They described how mental disorders develop. Their stories disproved any misconceptions that the students might have had about mental diseases. The students were very appreciative to the experiential experts for sharing their stories.

Friday, November 16 – Mental health

We evaluated the learning results of the activities during the past five days and exchanged ideas with the students about a new internationalisation project topic. Then, the French and the Dutch team boarded a train to Frankfurt and, after visiting the city, travelled back to their homes.

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