Report of our visit to Lindi in Estonia.
This is one of the exchanges for the Erasmus+ Child Friendly project against prejudices and xenophobia for European Primary schools.
The participants on this trip where Elsemiek Bessems, Martijn Hofma and Joyce van Putten and 4 pupils from De Plantage, a school in Houten, Holland.
We visited Estonia from the 25th of September till the 1st of October 2021
We started our trip on the 25th of September 2021. Because of the Covid virus the pupils of our school couldn’t stay at host families for sleepovers. Together with the other participating schools from Austria, Spain and Gozo, we stayed in a hotel in the village of Parnü. Therefore we not only made contact with the Estonian children and teachers, but also with the other participants. During the week warm friendships developed between us.
Lindi school was half an hour away from the hotel in Parnü so each morning we drove to Lindi where we had wonderful experiences during the week. On Monday we visited Lindi school for the very first time. Teachers and children were all there and gave us all a very warm welcome. Anton, the project leader, also welcomed everybody and had some Dutch cookies for everybody! After this wonderful start, the children were taken to different classes for joining a lesson with the Estonian children. We had the opportunity to see the school and explore its grounds! There are a lot of differences, for example the school had a kitchen and a canteen that provides lunch for kids and teachers and a kindergarten is established in the same building. Children from 18 months up to six years old are at kindergarten and then start primary school. But there are also some similarities.
On Tuesday and Wednesday morning we went to Lindi school. During these mornings the children showed their presentations of their own schools back home. Our pupils had two presentations prepared about our school, our village, their homes and our country. These went very well and we were so proud of them, speaking in front of an audience in English! All the children respected each other and listened to what they had to say.
Not only the children were integrating, we also integrated with the other teachers and had a lot of discussions about teaching, the difficulties that come with teaching, the systems and the influence of the COVID situation for education.
The children also learn about nature and biology during outdoor activities. We were lucky to join a marine biology lesson! Together with teachers and children we went on a field trip. Fishing and determining the caught fish and also how to dissect a fish and learn about their vital organs! Because one of the goals of this project was to make friends without judging others, we made international study couples! It was really nice to see how all the children got along and to see how they communicated with each other even if they didn’t speak the same language. The Estonian pupils had perfect skills to dissect a fish and taught these skills to our pupils.
Besides the outdoor bio-marine lesson, the school in Lindi occasionally has lessons at a local museum. We all went on a tour and they showed us how kids learn more about the workings of our universe at the planetarium and indiginous animals. Good stuff!
Talking about animals, on the penultimate day all students enjoyed a visit from a dog trainer who brought 2 Alaskan Huskies with her. They were beautiful and sweet animals which made every kid (and adult 😉 go aww..w no matter where in the world they came from. It was interesting for us all to learn how they are trained and what they can do, especially Odessa who was born deaf. Hopefully one life lesson the kids take away from that is “you can do anything if you set your mind to it”.
We also had a mini-concert in the school gym. Teachers were able to “rock out” to songs by Queen and Bon Jovi while more popular songs and hits of today made the children invite each other to dance, sing along and sway to the music while locking arms. They enjoyed themselves immensely.
Friday surprised us with an experimental game. A new and huge ball had arrived at the school to try out. Outside on the school playground all children were divided into two teams. They had to try to get the life sized ball across to the opposing teams field. As you can imagine it was chaos coupled with laughter. We enjoyed the sight of students of all schools cheering each other on.
That wasn’t all! Ever heard of flygrossing? In Lindi they have such a system in their own gym! You could channel your inner butterfly while flying around. As they say, a picture says more than a thousand words. Amazing to be able to do that during physical education classes at school!
On the final evening of our visit to Estonia we saw tears in the eyes of our students when it dawned on them they would no longer see their newly made foreign friends in person again for quite some time. Let us end on a high though. With apps and the almighty Internet they will stay in touch :).