Reports from Akranes
Comenius Workshop, Akranes – Iceland, 22. – 27. September 2011
To go to Iceland – it was my dream at an age of eightteen. But at this time I was warned to go there: it were really to expensive for a student. Now, almost forty years later I got the possibility to take part in this workshop and to visit Iceland – and all my forecasts came to reality. Thank you Hilde, for inviting me to accompany you.
A) The official work: I was not very well informed about the Comenius Project before Hilde asked me. So the meetings and discussions offered me a new experience and changed my mind about the sense of this project. I experienced a very friendly hospitality by our Icelandic friends, they did everything for us to feel comfortable. I was impressed by the Icelandic school, the behaviour of the students, the variety of the hands-on education. I believe, it will be a great chance for all the choosen students and teachers to get new experiences of a foreign country and to get into contact with local young people. E.g forme, I thought-provoking, howless the income of teachers in other countries is. I got a confirmation, how importantit is,to be open for the ideas and habits of foreign countries.
B) The island: Jon, Jens, Steini and Kristjan organized for sightseeing a well belanced programm of the beauties of the landscape and sustainability of icelandic economy.
With a silent smile, we followed thediscussions oft he Icelanders, how important it is to plant new trees, but they couldn`t find one mind, which trees it should be.
A new experience was the smell of sulfur of hot water while showering but no problem compared to the cheap availibility.
Iceland showed us the best of the colours of autumn and of the late September sunlight, even a wrack of an oldshipgot a secret glimpse.
I was glad to meet so many nice colleagues from all over Europe and thank you all for the interesting talkings an amusing evenings. I am looking forward to meet some of you in Bregenz or in the country I will visit.
Wolfgang from Austria (look at Pictures)
Czech Teachers Lost in Iceland
In September 2011 two brave Czech teachers, Markéta and Dana, set off to Iceland. Markéta had already been there and knew what to expect, for Dana it had been her first time in this land and also with the Comenius project. What were our most important Icelandic impressions? While the plane was landing the lady sitting next us was astonished that “There are no trees here!” And that’s true; there were almost no trees.
Although we had to spend necessary time with the preparation of the project we also had time to make friends with other teachers and see something more of the island. At some of the trips we tried to find the original trees and forests and to see the new ones as well. Other trips were to the mountains to see not only the glaciers but also where the hot water in the pipes came from. The hot springs with a lovely smell of sulphur are used for hot water in Akranes and other towns and also for heating of the greenhouses which you may see quite often. We were surprised by the possibility of buying fresh (and yummy) vegetables near the greenhouses without any control of payment. Of course we threw the coins into the box. If you come from other European country than Iceland, you may be surprised by the fact that crime rates are very low in Iceland.
We had great time in Akranes with the project, we felt welcomed and like at home. We tried to enjoy the stay as much as possible, so for example one day we went to the shoreto see the seagulls and black sand. After the last supper while walking to the hostel we saw “aurora borealis” which was short and only light green, but we are sure it was this natural phenomenon and the moment we saw it is unforgettable for both of us.
Luckily we had one more day to spend in Iceland in which we rented a car and travelled a bit. We saw some of the natural beauties and we wanted to see the seals but we found none. On the other hand we saw more hot springs coloured in various colours and smelling with various smells. It was an adventurous travel, because for about 100 km there was no road with asphalt, only little black stones, big holes, no car behind us and no car in front of us. We felt we were lost in a land of no man; the no-road was never-ending. However we survived our trip without any harm and we enjoyed it as well as we enjoyed the whole week in this beautiful land.
We hope that the friendly atmosphere which there was in Iceland will accompany the whole project.
Dana and Markéta from Prague
The trip to the remote corner of the world
From Estonia two teachers came to Iceland. Kersti, the project coordinator at school, and our biology teacher Lisel. The trip to Iceland is very long. It is 4 hours from Tallinn, where is the airport, then two flights and in 14 hours we were already there at the airport. Tired, but very happy to be there.
It is very interesting to meet so many different people from 11 countries. The beginning of the meeting was very interesting, we thought to each other how to say hello in different cultures. It is very good to know where to hug people and where to kiss and how many times and on which cheek J. The days outside the school were very well organised and showed us, how to organise the future trips for students, to introduce our countries. All our project countries are so different and the plans which every school introduced us were very impressive.
We liked a lot the lunch break. Students standing in a queue, silently for their turn, it was impressive and not only for Estonians but for the others too. Our breaks are much noisier to be honest.
Some photos I wanted to put here to show how serious faces teachers have while working on serious topics J
The result of working. The workshops for 2 students and 1 teacher are shown in "Workshops-agenda".
Not all the time we had conferences, some time was left for us to see Akranes, here is one photo of time we spent on the beach. We showed the photos for students at school and they liked the black colour of the sand and black rocks.
We liked walking in the rain and taking photos of Akranes.
We liked the colours of Iceland a lot. As it was my second visit to that country I thought that had seen a lot of it already, but I was wrong, in every corner there was something to be surprised, the colours were just amazing, it all was very very beautiful.
I am very happy that we had proper clothes with us, because it was quite rainy and windy there.
I like being in such coordinators meetings a lot. You learn many different things about different countries. You just have to be open-minded. And if you are, your students just feel it as well and they want to take part in such events. That is why I think such projects are extremely important for schools.
I am happy that we are a part of such a big project, it is not very usual to have 11 partners, lucky us.
Estonian blog (look at Pictures)
Comenius-Meeting in Akranes, Iceland
When Jan Voigt and I announced we would fly to Iceland for a Comenius meeting, this caused some envy among our colleagues, although they wished us well, of course. Iceland seems to be a country that leaves nobody cold, being far away, strange and beautiful.
This is also what we experienced. It took us about fourteen hours to get there in the first place – by train, plane and car. But what a flight it was! We were so lucky to be seated on the “right” side of the plane and had spectacular views flying along the south coast of Iceland. We saw the glaciers, the wilderness, the waves of the Atlantic breaking on the shore. And on top of that the sun was shining. There couldn’t have been a better start.
Arriving in Reykjavik, we were met by Steingrimur and Jon Arni, who were spending the day picking up people from the bus station. Steingrimur took us to Arkranes in his car and proved to bea perfect tourist guide so that we already gained a lot of impressions in the first hours of our stay. Our little guest house looked out onto the Atlantic Ocean – beautiful, if you didn’t look to the right where there was a little shipyard and not to the left, where there was a fish-processing factory. But of course these are Iceland’s main industries and you can’t hide them in order not to spoil tourists’ views.
The next day we were welcomed at the school and met all the other participants of our project. From the very beginning there was a very warm atmosphere, which isn’t really surprising as people who are interested in international understanding are usually open-minded and friendly. Hilde contributed to the positive mood by having prepared a few activities that were supposed to break the ice – although there was no ice to be broken - but they were a lot of fun anyway.
Something very different from German schools struck me in our first coffee break. In Germany teachers buy their coffee in the cafeteria or make it themselves, sometimes forget to clean their cups and often cause a mess – in Iceland there is a lady in the staff room who looks after the teachers, makes coffee and tea, prepares light meals, does the washing up. And everything at cost price! It’s heaven! Another point of envy is the room next to the comfortable staff room, a room strictly reserved for working, in which every teacher has a kind of cubicle with a desk, a shelf and a computer. Very convenient! As our school doesnot have an assembly hall or theatre, I envied the school their cafeteria with a big stage. In the school library there was a sofa with a pupil actually lying on it, so I think the atmosphere at this school is quite calm and laid back, which I found very pleasant.
Our trips in the countryside were fascinating, as Iceland is so very different from all the other countries one usually travels to. This is especially true for the question of energy which we learned a lot about on our excursions, more than 90% of the energy in Iceland being from renewable sources. Unfortunately, we can’t copy this. The fact that there is an abundance of energy can be very pleasantly felt in the hot tubs at the Arkranes swimming pool which we enjoyed tremendously, but also strangely at night when even empty office car parks were brightly lit.
In Akranes, we experienced great hospitality, when Jens invited us to his house or drove the bus to Reykjavik or Steini and Jon Arni accompanied us on all our trips. We really appreciate this. And we all had a lot of fun together.
Astrid and Ian from Germany (look at Pictures)
Comenius Akranes September 2011
Hi everybody! It was really great to meet you all again. We had a long trip back home too. Unfortunately school doesn't run without us so we have to continue working. I've been very busy for the rest of the week because tomorrow night German students are coming for a week so I had to organize the programs etc. By the way we have already started looking for teachers and students for our future meetings. Hope to keep in touch with all of you. Best wishes to all.
Edine from Hungaria
Impressions and thoughts about my trip to Akranes
Leaving Italy to go to Island for the Comenius preparatory visit has meant for me to pass from short trousers, top and sandals to waterproof coat, scarf and boots in less than half a day: a temperature gap of 20 degrees which was…absolutely worthy!
On the other hand, I had spent my summer into the pleasantly fresh waters of the Med Sea to find some relief from quite an unbearable boiling air, so, it was more than welcome the opposite situation which I’ve tried for the first time in the Vikings’ land: bathing into the naturally hot bubbling water of outdoor ponds to find some relief from the chilly air!
And coming from the land of one of the most appreciated cuisines of the world, motherland of pizza, spaghetti, tiramisù and whatsoever else, I must confess that I’ve been also very pleasantly surprised by the local food, tasty, tender and perfectly cooked lamb meat, fresh and delicate fish, velvet-like savoury soups, flavoured red wines!
But the most astonishing food-related episode was the picnic we had during our bus tour in glaciers and hot springs sightseeing: our heroic Islandic hosting band managed to plan an open air picnic in the freezing air and managed to distribute all food and drinks to a gang of hungry teachers who literally assaulted Jon’s car -boot despite shivering with cold!
This visit has also meant to meet again some of the friends I had been working with when I was at my previous school. Friends who have lived together with me a very difficult period of my life and with their presence and while working together for many years, involuntarily helped me to overcome it.
But this visit gave me also the opportunity to meet new colleagues with whom a new cooperation is starting and many projects are enthusiastically shared with.
What makes us so “compact” is our common belief that we’re really doing something useful for and with our students, and this gives light to our sometimes frustrating and “invisible” work.
the round puffy sheep spotting the green fields, the smiling lady of the school cooking as if she was a housewife and preparing a family lunch in the teacher’s room, Jon who scolds us as if we were students and whistles to draw our attention, the Headmaster explaining us the origin of the Islandic surnames and many other interesting things, the silence in the school and on the roads, the beautiful colour contrasts of the landscapes, Jens driving the bus, the unbelievably long and incredibly difficult to pronounce words of the noble Islandic language, we miming the national greetings to break the ice of the first day, the many and fluent ideas that we all had in order to start with this long and passionate trip aimed at “planting our future” which will hopefully give meaningful results.
And this will happen if we take this first meeting in the welcoming Akranes as the best wish for its success.
Patrizia from Italy (look at Pictures)
Notes about the meeting “Planting Our Future” in Akranes
A) Indoor activities
Contents of the works
It was very interesting and stimulating the technique used to allow the knowledge of the group and the development of the project (what students and teachers might do, how results could published and widespread).
I would have liked a longer discussion among Science teachers in order to prepare some other shared activities during each workshop; I hope this will be possible through the web either before each workshop and after.
Organization of activities
Work and free times were well balanced; the Icelandic team was very kind and available, food was tasteful at break-times and lunch meals. The school of Akranes was almost dream-like, an enchanted place: clean, tidy, silent, well equipped and human fitted.
B) Outdoor activities
By the two excursions it has been possible to have an idea about:
- Icelandic landscape: fjords, hot springs, waterfalls, glaciers, lava flows, columnar basalt, volcanoes, flora with bright autumnal colours and birds
- human activities: flocks of sheep, herds of horses and cows, hay cocks, soil erosion, new planted trees, pipes for use geothermal energy
- Icelandic custom: travelling trough desert lands, doing picnic under the rain, going to swimming pool before or after school, eating salmon or lamb with fresh vegetable grown in greenhouses heating by geothermal energy, leaving boxes of tomatoes and carrots in an open space - sure people let money to buy them (without seller or overseeing telecamera !), doing more jobs (as Jen, a teacher, driving the bus).
The people spoke intelligibly and they were co-operative and easy-going; the atmosphere was friendly and easy; the landscape took my breath away. I felt well, despite my long time less-practiced English.
Laura from Italy
In the land of cold icebergs and hot geysers
Warm-hearted and hospitable hosts, a beautiful scenery, clear air and water - a perfect place for the coordinators’ meeting and the beginning of work on the new project called ‘’Planting Our Future’’.
Most teachers coming over to Iceland had had a chance to co-operate on previous projects before. However it was very nice to welcome new members of the Virgil Family as the representatives of new member countries joined the Virgil project. Also our good friends joined us as well.
We began the meeting with the workshops aimed at work planning which involved the work on a two-year old project. We also invited the head teacher of Akranes to participate in our workshops. Our group did take pleasure in studying the pronunciation of certain Icelandic words.
Miss Hildegard Schüssling the Project coordinator from Austria welcomed the school representatives and took care of our comfort during the workshops.
Each of us had a chance of introducing themselves, the interests and ideas of the project execution in our countries.
During the conference we also had a chance to discuss things, share our ideas with other participants, introduce our comments connected with the project. After the group had set the dates of the future meetings the coordinators presented their workshops plans and the programme of visits to their schools.
The headteacher of the school in Akranes as well as Jens, Jón, Kristján and Steingrímurgave us a lot of information concerning the history and customs of Iceland. We were shown the most spectacular tourist attractions in Akranes and nearby. We are sure we will never forget the view of the mountains, geysers and the volcanic countryside.
Renata from Poland (look at Pictures)
THE ICELAND EXPERIENCE…!
After a year of waiting to see everyone again and keeping our fingers crossed that all the countries who applied to join this new and innovative project would be accepted, we certainly weren’t disappointed when we got to Iceland! Everyone we’d previously met was there and there were even some new faces too.
The first day was lovely, talking to everyone and catching up after so long. It was obvious we were all very enthusiastic about our new project and working together again. One of the first activities we did was comparing presenting ourselves in different countries to observe the cultural differences. The Swedish started off and made us all laugh with their good-humoured introductions.
Then after each country presented itself (an important activity in order to break the ice, if it hadn’t been broken already that is!). Then it was time for a bit of a general history and Icelandic language lesson…veeeeeery interesting!
We all sat there attentively, listening to Jon’s explanations as he made us utter some strange multi-syllabic Icelandic words and told us how the island was discovered around the year 870 and how the settlers were mostly of Norwegian, Scottish and Irish origin!
So it’s a very ‘young’ and original country in that sense…
…and also extremely beautiful. With so many metres of uninhabited land, we journeyed the following day through timeless countryside, past endless glaciers and dramatic scenery. It really would be hard to see something similar in other countries. Iceland seemed impressively big, with so much empty space between towns and so little occupied land…incredible.
Then it was back to the conference the next day for some hard work and decision-making, dates, workshops, ideas…
and more ideas…and more ideas…and more ideas…!
So, I think we can safely say that we are all really looking forward to working together on this project and being able to watch our pupils enthuse about their different experiences as they travel around Europe and meet young people of their own ages from different cultures, helping them to grow as they start to ‘plant their futures.
Victoria from Spain
The meeting in Iceland
We landed in Iceland on a sunny Thursday. It was like a summer day, really warm, but the very next day we came to know the true Icelandic weather; rainy and windy. Our excellent hosts came to meet us in Reykjavik and it was a very special experience to go with Kristjan in his car. It stopped a few times and sounded a bit funny; however Kristjan was not to blame since he is an excellent driver.
The hostel where we stayed, previously a pharmacy, was very pleasant. The international breakfast, upstairs, was excellent and the discussions, were inspiring. The bakery, next to our hostel, was also a favourite place. “Kleina”, an Icelandic speciality, was much appreciated.
Thinking about Iceland, the hot springs and the Jacuzzis, come immediately in mind. We are a bit jealous and would like to have a natural resource like that in Sweden as well. Another thing that we think about, regarding Iceland, is how genuine and down to earth most of the people we met in Akranes, were. They were also ever so hospitable, invited us home and offered splendid Icelandic food (and Italian wine J ). Almost every day we made amazing trips to experience the magnificent landscape. It is unique and astonishing!
To sum it up, we had a fantastic week in Iceland!
Marianne and Viveka from Sweden (look at Pictures)
COMMENTS FOR POF COORDINATION MEETING IN ICELAND
On one side, cold and rainy weather of ICELAND and on the other side warm and friendly people…..Yes, that is what these two pictures remind us about Iceland….It was a cold weather in Iceland but We never felt cold thanks to our friends with smiling faces ..Jens my friend, he is such an optimist man he always smiles and they all always have positive energy…. Our Iceland visit is one of the unbeliavable experiences in our life.. I am talking about our meeting since we turned back Turkey……… my friends have been asking guestions for a weekand there are so many things to tell ..I am being a talkative man nowadays..
If anyone asks what we did, I tell them that first of all we broke the ices …The greeting part was realy funny we smiled much especialy while Victoria and Patrick were presenting how Spanish men greet each other informally in Spain. Patricia and Laura, you were really succesful and lovely at your participating, too.
And that’s our little warm hostel…I can’t forget the rush hour in the morning during the breakfast time….Everybody is preparing and having breakfast….someone is looking for some more coffee or tea and the other is seeking sugar it was a rush hour….I recalled my high school years as I stayed at school dormitory when I was at high school ….The difference was we were away from our family but together with our new friends.
Before my headmaster and I traveled to İCELAND, we heard many about geysers hot water sources of that country, I thought that was nothing but exaggeration. But when I witnessed the boiling water emerging with the steam and the smell it spreads around, I understood it was a gift of our nature…
We have hot springs in our country too. But non of them is as hot as the ones in Iceland…
And, the last one is the best for us…..we are amazed by that beauty when we saw the water coming out of the hill….the colour of the water and small typical icelandic plants around, that looks great….Thanks god it was a sunny day too… Everything was perfecet for us.
There are many things we experienced in Iceland….I and my head master are pretty hapy to be a partner of that Project…That is our first Project and we have already learnt many things and met many new friends…. We have lots of exciting workshops to be done ..I believe that POF will be efficient for foreign language learning and cultural integration of our students and teachers …I hope every meeting will be as succesful as our coordination meeting..And I thank all our partners and especialy for our hardworking coordinator Hilde…
Ali ÖZTÜRK /İshak GÖRÜCÜ from Halis Gülle Anatolian High School / TURKEY (look at Pictures)