Ireland: The Land of Saints and Scholars

 

They say that 40 shades of green makes up the Emerald Isle, and we were looking forward to witnessing those impressions. It was not quite meant to be however, as our journey coincided with the arrival of the not so welcome ‘Beast from the East,’ a snow storm that brought quantities of snow not seen in Ireland since 1982! If this is the land of saints and scholars, the almost poetic irony to the circumstances didn’t escape us.

 

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Tuesday, February 27th 2018: Amidst some disruptions due to the weather, the most of us arrive safe and sound in Glenamaddy where we receive a warm welcome from our Irish hosts in Glenamaddy Community School.  Our empty bellies were soon filled with hot, delcious food and we enjoyed to sit together, introduce ourselves to the new participants and catch up on each-other’s news.

As it was our first LTT trip of this project, our students were excited to be involved; quickly becoming comfortable in getting to know each-other too. When they were safely settled with their host families, their exhausted teachers finally retired to their sleeping quarters; a guesthouse close to the school. After warming ourselves by the crackling open fire, we called it a night.

 

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Wednesday, February 28th 2018: After a hearty breakfast, we braved the snow to go to school. Principal James Duignan was there to meet us at the door with a warm Irish welcome! We were then divided into groups by Aideen Tormey, our very capable Irish colleague; and given a full tour of the school by the friendly Irish students. We were able to view the classes in action, explore the great school facilities and soak up the school’s vibrant atmosphere.

We were then lead to what would be our ‘conference room’ for the duration of our visit, and there we met with Tish McGann; our Irish colleague and business expert! Here, the ice was broken with a fun, interactive multilingual game.

After the break, we returned to our quarters re-energized and ready to work; delighted too by the arrival of our Italian colleagues! Each team of students from each country presented their experience and findings from the last few months work; evidence of interviews and questionnaires carried out by the students of each school. It was fascinating to compare the results from each country and to observe the various styles of presenting. Each group did a great job!

 

 

Having worked up a healthy appetite, we made our way to the school cafeteria for a delicious lunch. Straight after, Tish delivered a very practical and interesting presentation called ‘The 7 Sages in Developing a New Product.’ Following that, we were treated to a hugely informing and exciting work-shop by Galway Enterprise Coach, Garry Lowe entitled ‘Idea Generation.’ Our students drew a lot of benefit from this as it gave them a starting point to come up with their own ideas.

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After wrapping up a wonderful day’s work, our teaching team enjoyed a lovely meal in a local restaurant as we reflected on the activities of the day.

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Thursday, March 1st 2018: A day full of activity with very interesting work-shops entitled; ‘Documents and Legalities in Setting Up a Business,’ ‘Stakeholders in Business,’ and a brilliant tutorial in making spreadsheets with Excel.

 

After the break, our Romanian colleagues Ana-Maria (teacher) and George (student) delivered their work-shop on ‘Ethics in Business.’ The work-shop consisted of a presentation and a very impressive video made by their students which was very entertaining for the audience! We also had a nice group activity where the teams were mixed, so we had the chance to work with new members of the group. They really did a wonderful job!

In the final hour, we were treated to a great display of talent from some of the Irish students who performed some traditional Irish music for us! In fact, it was so enticing that we all found ourselves on our feet dancing in the ceilí together! Our Italian colleague even surprised us with a song! Memories to treasure.

 

The final surprise came when TD (MP) Michael Fitzmaurice honoured us with a visit. He presented each team member with their certificates of participation and enthralled us all with an inspiring speech. The perfect end to a fruitful afternoon.

 

 

Friday, March 2nd 2018: God laughs at those who makes plans they say, and never was this more fitting than on this day. Although we had a full and detailed schedule, it was simply not possible to follow it due to the snow storm. Therefore, our students enjoyed a cultural day with their host families; while we teachers worked in the school.

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Saturday, March 3rd 2018: Saturday resumed a full programme with our students able to come to school again! The work-shop from Romanian colleague, Christian, on ‘Copyright and Trademarks’ kicked off the day. There was a lot of theory to process which was nicely mixed with a fun game on identifying logos.

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For the rest of the day, we reinforced the learning on some essential business skills, and the transnational teams got together to work on developing their business idea.

 

Sunday, March 4th 2018: Cultural Day! We have an early start to get as much into the day as possible. The fantastic array of activities included a walking tour of Galway, a leisurely stroll along the strand of Salthill, and a delicious final meal together.

Group Pic.

 

With that, our week was gone in a flash; with memories created that will last of fun-filled learning, friendship and fascinating cultural exchanges.

Ireland

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Portugal: Journey’s Beginning.

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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We are all familiar with this quotation, and it is a fitting sentiment to begin our blog with.

We are eight partners from Austria, Portugal, Poland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Estonia and Ireland; who have come together to bring our shared values and educational goals to fruition. Over months we planned and sculpted our ideas into a project worthy of EU funding. A project that is creative, exciting, highly relevant and enlightening. Words cannot express our delight having heard that our work had been officially approved; and our eagerness to get started. Our first step took us all to the charming location of Oliveira da Bairro in Portugal.

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October 18th 2017: After a long journey, our first evening was spent in the warm and relaxing environment of our hotel where we ate together, enjoyed a celebratory toast and got to know each other.

October 19th: The next morning, refreshed and revived, we were warmly welcomed to the impressive Instituto Profissional da Barraida (our partner school), by the Principal Nuno Santos. We had a wonderful day in IPB meeting with staff and students, observing their highly technical projects at work and enjoying engaging discussions. What we were really struck by was the innovative thinking of the school and it’s tireless initiatives to forge the school with the work-place; a goal of our Erasmus Project.

Later on, each team of teachers presented their school as was prepared by their students. This was a really valuable exercise in getting to know more about each-other. Following that, we had the honour of being hosted in the Town Hall by the Mayor, which was a memorable experience.

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October 20th: The following day was dedicated to I.T Work-shops carried out by our Portuguese technical expert Alberto! He guided us step by step through PB Works, Instagram, WordPress and Calameo; giving us the tools we need to communicate throughout the project.

We also set up the voting system on instagram to select the winner of our logo competition as designed by our students! After a tough competition of a high standard, our Italian friends were triumphant in the end – congratulations!

After a break, we broke up into focus groups as organised by the Austrian coordinators, to brain-storm how to make a clear and concise questionnaire, that would be needed by each student group to research their local labour markets.

Our final task was to fix the dates for the next meeting in Ireland, and carry our the lottery to see which trans-national student teams would be paired up! After an exciting raffle, the students were selected in the subsequent teams:

  • Ireland & Portugal
  • Italy & Germany
  • Poland & Romania
  • Austria & Estonia

October 21st: After some intensive days of concentration, our cultural day was something met with great anticipation! It certainly didn’t disappoint either. First stop was to the romantic city of Aveiro (Portuguese Venice). Following some city sightseeing, the participants crossed the channel to the natural reserve of São Jacinto. Later, after enjoying lunch in a local restaurant, the group crossed the channel again and visited the breath-taking beaches of Costa Nova and Barra.

October 22nd: Our goodbyes were tinged with sadness, but also great expectation for the next meeting when we would see each-other again. We departed with fresh motivation to get working on all we had discussed, and a feeling of huge gratitude to our Portuguese hosts who did such a wonderful job.

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And so it was, the first step complete. A little more learned, a little more experienced but a lot more to come. Watch this space… ; )

 

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Entrepreneurship: Ideas @ work

captura-de-tela-2017-08-18-22-52-56Entrepreneurship: Ideas @ Work is the title of our project. We feel this title clearly represents our goals for this project (to develop entrepreneurial skills and initiatives among our students) and our vision as to how to achieve them (putting our collective imaginations and creative skills to use). One of the most urgent tasks for EU governments has been to fight the rising levels of unemployment, particularly among young people. The European Commission itself states that ‘EU businesses need to become more competitive through talent and innovation.’ We believe that this attitude of enterprise needs to begin at the root; in our schools. In order to tackle this growing epidemic of youth unemployment, we believe it is reform in education that will ultimately lead the path of progress to a brighter and more prosperous future for our young people; this idea was our inspiration for this project. Our project is based upon the ideal of ‘Entrepreneurship.’ We aim to introduce our students to a variety of relevant skills that will enable them to think creatively and instill in them the confidence needed to thrive in the 21st century labour-market. Mindful of being over-ambitious, we have narrowed our focus down to what we believe are the most important and reachable expertise: technology, language, business know-how and social competencies. Our goal, as teachers, will be to introduce and further these skills step by step through-out this project; which will be illustrated in our final project product: an ‘E-Book on Entrepreneurship.’ The ultimate goal of our students will be to put these skills into practical use and set-up a mini-company from scratch, which they will unveil in a formal and public setting at the last meeting. One of the most important elements of this project proposal is the effort to combine expertise with education. We have planned to invite stake-holders to formally participate in our project in order to mentor our students in these areas of business and entrepreneurship. These stake-holders are professional people in business such as entrepreneurs; as well as, career-advisors, psychologists and other highly skilled professionals. Our team consists of eight partners: Austria (coordinator), Portugal, Poland, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Estonia and Romania. Five of us have collaborated very successfully in the past on a Comenius project; this strong relationship that we hold to this day will benefit us greatly in the new project. Our experience will mean that we can take the new partners into the fold and support them in the project activities; creation of relevant and invaluable work-shops, presentations, management of student team activities and tasks and the ‘E-Book’ for example. I will wrap up this project summary with a quotation from Robert F. Kennedy that we feel sums up the essence of our project perfectly: “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, they send forth a tiny ripple… These ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls…” This project is not setting out to make waves (like inventing a methodology that is completely new), we aspire to make ripples: enough of a difference in our team, in our schools, in our communities that will hopefully; open minds and alter attitudes with regard to the education of Entrepreneurship. This is the time for development, for creative thinking and about all, for positive action.

The Imagination @ work Team

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