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1st meeting report in Valka, Latvia

The first meeting of the project took place in Valka Gymnasium, Valka, Latvia between the 23rd of November and the 25th of November, 2015.

The participants of the meeting – 15 teachers from Latvia, Spain, Croatia, Romania, Turkey.

November 23, 2015

The project partners from Spain, Croatia, Romania and Turkey were welcomed by the Latvian team and an ice breaking activity combined with the use of English and all national languages was organized to give an inspirational start for the meeting by preparing a poster.

The main goals and activities were discussed, as a result there was a heated debate about the meeting dates since the Spanish city Donostia – San Sebastian in 2016 is the European culture capital which means they cannot be the hosts. The solution was found, the dates changed, the teams agreed on that.

The guests could see the Latvian presentation about their education system, school activities, and daily life, how they are trying to motivate their students. Later Latvian students took the guests on a guided tour around the school. From the guests` reports – “this is a very organized school; clean and neat, many extracurricular activities, students are friendly and nice, they are fluent in English, students`s work is frequently praised; the school impressed me with its atmosphere and involved students.”

The participants agreed on the rules of cooperation introduced by Latvian coordinator Dace Langenfelde.

Entrepreneurial skills start at school – students make their own companies, so we met representatives of 3 Valka Gymnasium student companies-making jewelery, soap, arranging entertainment. There was the verbal and visual presentation and an exhibition of the products which some people were interested in and could buy them.

Valka Gymnasium economics teacher Guntra Gaidlazda introduced the system of teaching economics in Latvia, analyzed the results of the student survey about their interest/or non-interest in becoming entrepreneurs. The poll revealed that students lack knowledge and courage to set up their own business, they are short of ideas; they need to acquire certain skills.

As Valka is geographically located on the border with Estonia, the guests were taken on a sightseeing tour in both towns – Valka and Valga.

Guest teams had a talk with Valka Gymnasium teachers, each team showed a presentation emphasizing the most essential facts about their country, city, school.

The Latvians are proud of their cultural traditions – so we learned to make Christmas decorations at the art school, practised some Latvian folk dance steps while attending the school dance group practice.

November 24, 2015

Valka municipality mayor Mr. Krauklis addressed the guests and wished a successful project work.

All teams visited Latvian classes introducing their culture, traditions, making them more interested in the EU cooperation and future.

Grade 9a students think that the Croatian school in Slavonski Brod to be a student friendly place with a lot of possibilities.

Grade 9b students enjoyed the video about Istanbul which the Turkish teacher showed and the delicious oriental sweets.

Grade 11b was interested asked questions about the economic situation, refugees in Romania.

During the class lesson grade 12ab had 3 visitors from Spain, they told them about their school, syllabus, lessons and projects they had been involved; after that they saw a video about their city and school made by their students. Our guests emphasized that they come from a Basque country on the border with France. They answered students’ questions and showed video clips from Youtube.com about Basque holidays, sports, favorite musicians.

As the goal of the project is to create a study platform, everybody was involved in learning the new skills under the guidance of Valka Gymnasium ICT teacher Inta Krieviņa, it was challenging but as the participants admitted-practice makes master. From the reports – a useful tool; it was interesting to find out how many opportunities there are for teachers and students to improve their knowledge on various topics, the ICT teacher did a good job.

This was the day to learn how successful business people work therefore there were visits to several companies, for example, LTd “PepiRer” – they produce insulation material for construction work. Since 2007 they have been using a modern conveyor belt. They export their goods to 30 countries. In 2015 they started manufacturing toys.

 The company is appreciated in the town for many reasons, it gives work to 70 people, actively participates in town events, co-operates with the municipality.

Company Ltd “efn Nord” believes that their policy is that of high quality, quality in every stage of the manufacturing process.

Company “Ligumss” together with their owner Māris Stalis care for the well-being of their employers and customers, they have a café in their new building. The owner is definitely sure that a good communication skill is an advantage.

Company “Minty” has various offers for design (for clothes, badges, posters, etc.), interior.

It was a good experience to learn how they manage their company, what problems they face and how they solve them.

November 25, 2015

The participants analyzed what they have done, agreed on, discussed what must be done until the next meeting, who is in charge of what.

The participants agree that the meeting was important, they got acquainted, learned a lot about Latvia, learned something about the partner schools, but they needed more time to discuss the issues.

“I`m impressed with activities and how students were involved in the organization of the meeting. Many thanks to Latvian team. I felt safe and welcome.”

“I had a wonderful time. Everything was perfect organized. You are wonderful hosts. Thanks for everything! “

“The meeting was well planned and organized. School activities were so interesting; I really had loads of fun. I was impressed with the students, their English and communication skills are at a very high level.
All in all, compliments to the Latvian team ;)”

“The Agenda has been very well organized but we need more time for us and more time to discuss the issues.
Thanks to Dace and all the teachers involved in the project. We are very different from cultural point of view and habits but we can work together understanding each culture.
Thanks again for our Latvian experience.”

“Thanks for everything. I had a second chance to come here and again I had a wonderful unforgettable experience. I feel myself lucky to be involved in this project. It will be a perfect opportunity for me to learn new things and to meet new people from different countries. Thanks again.”

The last project day was planned to learn more about the history and present of Latvia.

We visited Turaida museum reserve to experience the past, everybody was fascinated by the touching legend of Turaida`s Maija, listened with interest to the story of the guide, one could enjoy the breathtaking scenery after climbing the castle tower.

Riga – the capital of Latvia is proud of its new national library, we noticed how spacious the rooms are, how well equipped, how comfortable it is to work there as a reader.

Latvian White House – national opera was the treat of the day- we all enjoyed the ballet performance “Bolero”.