The main focus of the German mobility was „Building Bridges through Biology“. Throughout the last few years our hosts have become experts in developing and maintaining an ecological garden and they wanted to share those acquired experiences with us. But first things first. It is not possible to learn things from each other and create things together without knowing whom you are working with. Our pupils had already had one night at the host families, but now a group of approximately 25 new ‘faces’ was waiting for them on their first project day.
Monday morning started off by having a warm welcome by the headmaster of the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Gesamtschule in Duisburg. He introduced us to his school and explained their way of working. Immediately the first differences between school systems occurred. For example, how is it possible to have a 40-minutes break at about 10 am? The German school puts high value on movement and getting fresh air and that is why they have introduced it a few years ago. Should we implement this in our home countries? I asked this question to my pupils and the opinions differed from ‘Yeah, that would be great. At least we would have enough time to have chat.’ to ‘Well, it actually took quite long and it just made the school day last longer.’ At least us, teachers, had some time for a coffee and a moment of clearing our heads. This is just a trivial argument, so for sure the discussion should be held properly.
After getting to know each other and the school, it was time to learn more about the city we were staying at. In the afternoon we took the metro to the city centre to complete a city scavenger hunt. A list with tasks and questions led them through the inner city. My impression was that shopping malls wherever you are look very similar, but old artifacts combined with modern art cannot be copied and taken out of their context. Duisburg has got all of it, which for sure makes it worth visiting. The tasks on the sheets of our pupils also gave them the change to keep the main topic of our project in focus: ‘Building Bridges’. Build a symbolic bridge and ask people how to say ‘hello’ in as many different languages as possible, were only two examples of what they actually had to do.
All groups arrived at the goal safe and sound. Some had finished off the tasks better than others, but for sure all of them had noticed a glimpse of the city and took home some nice impressions. The first project day came to an end and everyone headed back towards the school building. There was more than enough time left to spend time with the host families, to sit down and have supper or to still meet one or another.