Erasmus-course: Classroom to the world in Guadeloupe / Maarit

Erasmus + Classroom to the world in Guadeloupe 3.1.-12.1.2023

I am beginners class teacher from Nummenpakka school. I teach children who have just arrived to Finland. Now ages 7-11. Children come from different countries and have different kind of school background. I do a lot of co-operation with Turun Kristillinen opisto. I help to train the assistant teachers. They do their practice in my class. I do have also many language course students doing their practise in my class as well. I had this great opportunity as a partner with Kristillinen opisto to join this Erasmus + course abroad. I chose a multicultural course and very different place for the course place in order to learn more about different cultures. The topics in the course were about intercultural and multicultural issues. During the course we had lot of discussions and activities in many different kinds of locations = classrooms like rainforest, mangrove forest and island and Slavery museum. I learned more about global outlook, global citizenship, and global responsibility. We discussed themes like identity, belonging, sustainable living, fairness and equality, peace and conflict and rights and responsibilities. Also, we discussed about global citizenship skills, self-awareness, conflict resolution and critical thinking and how to take action and change things. I learned more about Erasmus + project management and planning projects. There was course participants from different countries.


Day 1

❤️ . What an amazing course place Guadeloupe is. First day we shared a bit our life story. The activity ”Your identity in 6 words” allowed us to get to know our classmates, their values, attitudes, and strengths. It was so nice to hear everyone’s thoughts.

My thoughts from the day:

  • nice to have outside classroom, could we do it more in Finland too.
  • discussion: who we are is in core of the identity?
  • we share so much same, but all are wonderful individuals.
  • accepting and knowing our own life history and our nation history is important.
  • values are important guidelines in our life
  • identity, values and life is changing and it is ok❤️
  • it was interesting and sad to hear about the slavery history of Guadeloupe and how it influences for people’s life today here in Guadeloupe.

Day 2. History, multiculturalism, and culture in Memorial ACTe

Culture = Identity. How do we relate to other cultures? Can cultures be limiting? It is important not to delimit certain cultures. What is it that makes certain cultures claim the right to dominate and push others away?

We learned an important part of Guadeloupe´s history and its culture. A very dark and sad part of human history, slavery. We passed the place, where used to be the slave market in Point a Pitre. Standing in the same place where several generations of slaves have disembarked was very stopping.

Before we went into the museum Rita, our teacher told us about the Tree of Oblivion. Before boarding the boat in Africa, the enslaved people had to walk around this tree several times. Doing this was believed to make them amnesic – their past and origin as well as their names were supposed to be forgotten. This was a terrible, unrealistic thought. ☹

In the museum the final mural was impressive, reminding us that today other forms of slavery such as human trafficking, child labour, servitude, or forced marriage outnumber any form of slavery in the past.

The Memorial ACTe was very stopping. Made me quiet and raised feelings, sadness, unbelieve of the cruelty of the people, kind of quilt for the horrors and injustice what has happened for these people. It goes over my understanding. It is such a contrast for this beautiful place and warm and friendly people. It takes time for people here to start dealing with the past. Like in Finland it took 100 years before we could start talking about the Finland’s civil war in 1918. It was too painful before. It was easier not to talk about it. Kind of denial. Memorial place also reminded me of the world Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem. After all the sad and deep thoughts, I want to put a picture of a rainbow from this morning. I still want to believe in goodness of people, and everyone can make a difference. ❤️

People in Guadeloupe are so friendly and strong. It seems for me that they value their culture and traditions. There might be injustice underneath but for me the place felt very equal and open. Blacks and white people together.

Day 3. Music, culture, similarities, and differences

We learned about the traditional drum of Guadeloupe, Gwo Ka. We learned about the history of it and practiced to drum a bit. Thoughts from the day: Stories and human life has many sides and interpretations. Music unites people. It can even heal. Very interesting was special 432 hz that is a special frequency. I was surprised that Finnish national instrument kannel can be found in many other countries. Our group leasder Rita played kannel as an traditional Lithuenian instrument. Interesting.

I was very touched when the pupils came and played Gwo Ka and danced with us. The rhythm connects us without words. Music comes from the heart and goes to the heart. Every culture has its own instrument and rhythm and yet most of them are very similar with their own cultural history, which also connects.

Day 5. Think global act local, international work and why it is important

We shared examples and discussion about how to be a global citizen in our everyday life. How to be more aware and how to build knowledge about this and how to do this with students, how to get them involved. What we can do at school and what the students can do? How to start to plan school international project and about application process. We got good information what kind of terms and language to use in applications. I found it a good idea that we could start an aid project in our school direct to another country to help. But it is important to ask what the partner in aid really needs. I have seen this in Africa too many times that aid projects are planned abroad but they have forgotten to ask locals what they really need. This makes people passive.
Being a global citizen means that we all need to take responsibility for how to manage the earth’s resources. When I visit other countries, I often think about how to save the earth’s resources. How to help other citizens to recycle. That companies move production to other countries to be able to find cheap labour and get away from laws.

Sademetsän luokkahuone.

Day 6. Different school systems

Finnish school system. I think It is closest to Swedish school system. In Finland children go to pre-school when they are 6 years old for a year. There they learn letters and numbers and school skills, but they do not have to learn to read yet. Real school starts at age of seven. Primary school is classes 1-6. Ages 7-12. Junior secondary from age 13-15. Classes 7-9. According to a new law, we must provide a study place for all pupils after that till they are 28 years old. It can be vocational school or High School or preparatory class for High school. I work in a school from classes 1-9. My workplace is in primary school side as a special education teacher. I am working with immigrant children who just arrive in Finland as a beginner’s class teacher. This year I have students from age 7-11 and different nationalities. I teach children all school topics during their first school year in Finland. After that children go to normal Finnish classes. I do a lot of co-operation with other teachers and the future classes of the children. In general, in Finnish school students’ participation in decision making is important. We want to hear what they think. We also integrate more and more children with learning difficulties to normal classes. It can be a challenge because these children need more assistance and help. And there is not always help available. I am looking forward to hear about school systems in other countries.

Slavery museum.

Day 7. International policy

Rita focussed the lesson on the International Policy. This is a valuable document as it is the first step to writing an Erasmus+ Project. Working together about the school´s needs, aims and objectives made me get further ideas to develop.

It is important to remember that the teachers´ personal motivation for the topic will drive the project and all the school involvement is necessary (inside and outside). So we cannot choose topics for a project thinking on the student’s preferences but the teachers.

It is great to have this information as a base when we start developing this topic further in our school. And this is also good base for future projects. We need a good team in our school to start working on this. We are very often concentrating at school on local things and current challenges. Via international work we could get new ideas how to solve our local issues. I am working in a school were students bankground is about 70% immigrant background. In that sense the international point of view is very important.

Day 8. Nature. Le Grand Cul-De- Sac Marine by Maarit

Reflection on today from my cottage because I was sick. I was reading the pages about today’s visit place, UNESCO world biosphere reserve. What an incredible place. Such a rich flora and fauna. For example, the importance of the mangrove for our atmosphere, bigger than rainforest. I is impressed. Guadeloupe has such a rich nature, and is so beautiful place. People are lucky when they can live here. I hope they understand the importance of valuing and preserving the nature as well. ❤️

Day 9. Key competencies for international projects and lesson plans

Today the key competences were presented as a lesson plan by the participants. We also got a lot of practical and useful information about planning and applying a project. I am a bit puzzled why my city school office wants to kind of control the application processes. On one hand it is practical that someone is hired to do the work. On the other hand, at the moment no individual school can do it alone. I will find out more about this when I am back home.

Teksti ja kuvat: Maarit

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