de bagat la diaries
15-20 December 2013: The best week of our school life!!!
in the 3rd Gymnasio Irakliou Kritis
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Being a visitor can be a beautiful and fairly enjoyable experience, as you can enjoy a great variety of pleasures of a place... Being the host offers an awesome experience when you observe the smiles of your guests and help them forget the nostalgia of being away from their mother-country. Being the host though, can equally be a really stressful process, especially when you come from a country that represents the constitution of hospitality…
6:45… at the airport. Waiting. Imbued with anxiety and nervousness… Meeting time! With “sweaty” hands and awkward smiles, we were waiting to discern the Danish Teachers-one of them familiar to us- and then, our Romanian friends, to be, with their English teacher-known to us as well from Marseille- Gratiela.
Then, suddenly, the doors opened and we could see Gratiela waving at us and getting back in. This was what raised more our anxiety and made us worried about our expectations. When the Danish teachers came out, we were fairly excited to meet them as all the memories from our trip to Marseille with them made us nostalgic of that journey but simultaneously, excited of what to expect.
After we were introduced to each other we suggested that they go to the hotel with one of the teachers and the rest of us stayed to wait for the Romanians. When the Romanians finally made their appearance, the airport was empty. One of the students’ luggage was lost and after the arrangements that had to be made, we left the airport. From our first meeting with the Romanian students and the first words we exchanged with them what impressed us was their ability to speak not only Romanian- their mother tongue – but also English and French or German like us.
After they all settled at their hotel, we all went for a walk in the city centre of Heraklion with our Romanian, Danish and Irish guests. After a small stroll in the centre of Heraklion, we sat with the Romanian students and our teachers at a traditional gyros place where we got the chance to get to know them better and learn more about each other and our common interests. At night, when we accompanied them back to their hotel, we left sure then, that we would gain some of our most memorable moments…
The entire school had been in a festive mood, as everyone waited for the guests to arrive. After a small tour in the school, the teachers stayed at the school library where we assume that they started working and the two Romanian boys took only two classes with us as it was marks day; they attended a computer studies and a chemistry lesson. At the computer studies, the Romanian partners and I made a Christmas card on the computer. They regarded the computers we had at the school, of a really new technology comparing to theirs. Also considering chemistry, their knowledge was impressive. Then was when I really discovered the magic of chemistry, as it is a completely new and international language which with its symbols can bring close people from different nations. It was a lesson where translation wasn’t necessary!!
The day was Tuesday… It was a rainy morning and a cold one, quite unusual for Greece. Kids were running in the school, trying to feel that they were in a break, as the heavy rain had prevented them from going out. That rainy morning the first complete meeting happened.
While going down the slippery stairs of the school, we managed to discern six unknown heads waiting on a corner. And then, the English teacher run to ask us to meet the Spanish kids who had just arrived.
Tired eyes, anxious hearts, tending smiles… All of us were trying to make them feel comfortable while we were showing the place and explaining basic information. It was fairly difficult, notwithstanding… Every student was staring at them, trying to get accustomed to meeting kids from other countries; it could be utterly embarrassing. But, we could understand them, as we had already been in their position, when we were at the school of Marseille.
We finally had the chance to put them with the Romanian students somewhere that quiet… They had the chance to be present in my class, during some particular lessons, such as Ancient Greek. Even then, every classmate was staring at them! How odd… Our guests couldn’t understand if for us they were still human beings…!
Their absence for the rest of the day, after they left to return to their hotel, was something that really contributed to our school’s usual routine for sure. But the girls of the programme were lucky… We recommended that it would be wonderful to accompany them at their walk, in the afternoon and-good for us- the teachers gave their consent. We promised them that we would have a great time!
Antonia: God! My tiredness and anxiety about going to find them, as I was late, was something awful for me. The other girls had the chance to be with our guests and explain or talk with them, about the place, for about 1 hour more than me; shame! But, I’m sure they didn’t notice it as all the others had managed to help them enjoy the afternoon.
Maria: Ok my dear friend! As you mentioned, I was MUCH luckier than you and I have to correct you as I wasn’t only one hour earlier… I had 30 minutes extra and I have to say that it was fantastic; we could have a walk, feel the Christmas atmosphere of Heraklion and discuss a little; relaxed as we were away from the school environment we appreciated the company.
We walked in Heraklion, wandering and watching Greek people smiling and having fun in the crowded streets and we didn’t realize what time it was. Thanks God, our English teacher had already made a reservation in a tavern, called ΛίγοΚρασί, Λίγοθάλασσαgiving in this way the opportunity to smell the beautiful smell of the sea and taste delicious sea food.
We returned to our homes at eleven o’clock! “Where have you been?” said our mothers when we entered our homes. What could we do? After the dinner, we went for a walk near the port and then we desperately wanted to watch the Christmas tree when they were about to give it light! Then, we stayed to listen to modern Greek music provided by famous music groups and then we went to eat ice- cream and then say good-bye and…! It was a completely memorable afternoon!
Antonia: Ok, I think it is manifest that everyone was exhausted the next day, on Wednesday, don’t you think Maria? Even if we returned at eleven o’clock, we couldn’t sleep; we were uptight! Nevertheless, everyone was present at the lesson, as our guests (the Romanian and Spanish students ) would be there again.
Maria: I couldn’t agree more with you! I couldn’t sleep either and it was the first time that everybody was interested or at least seemed to be interested in the lesson the next day.
Then, something crazy happened: Ready to take our guests and go to class, we were informed that that day we wouldn’t take them with us as they had to visit our attractions. To put it mildly, Knossos Palace, the Aquarium and the Archeological Museum were waiting for them… That’s not fair! We were waiting for them, too (again!). All right, I have to admit that we were lucky in the end as we were allowed- as members of the European Programme- to escort them- AGAIN!
Oh, everything was so beautiful! We began, of course, with the Minoan Palace, where a really good guide helped us understand the Minoan Civilization through the English language. Ok, wait a minute! The Aquarium was next!
And again, we were right… Everyone adored the playful fish that were swimming in the water and were staring at everybody. They surely considered it to be breathtaking, especially when they sat on the seats and relaxed, after a tiring but amusing tour. What fascinated us mostly was the fact that it was more breathtaking for the Romanian teacher, Gratiela, who wanted desperately to go to the sea. It was so beautiful for her to watch the waves on the rocks, smelling the smell of the water and feeling it on her hands, mostly when she took some small stones in her bag, so as to remember the amazing Mediterranean.
Antonia: And I felt so… lucky- mostly by her words- that I live in this town, in this island, in this country. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance, but also the courage, to accompany them to the Archeological Museum.
Maria: We were in the bus playing the “Game with the words”, meaning that everyone had to repeat the word the other said and add one more… It was difficult as the Spanish accent was hard for us (there were words in Spanish, too!) Our minds were tired… And we had to meet them in the evening, too. Of course we wanted, but we couldn’t feel our feet!
“You take this, I’ll take this one!” “Be careful with the dish! It’s heavy!” “No, do not put it there!” “Don’t be nervous! Everything is going to be fine!”
God, we were lunatics that night of Wednesday! Dinner at school and we had to bring our own dishes so as as to provide traditional Cretan food for our guests. Firstly, everything began with music, where four students of our school, Antonia Troullaki (violin), George Houstoulakis (lyre) and Nikitas Ramoutsakis with Kostas Stefanakis (Lute) amused them with Cretan traditional music. Our headmaster then, Mr. Stavros Kaloudakis, gave a speech to our guests saying that he is very happy to host them in our school. After that, he offered to each one of the teachers and the students presents, containing oil, raisins, raki, honey, wine and a book with the attractions of Heraklion- that are inextricably interwoven with our island, Crete. Then, everyone started eating the food we had made for them: Gyros, potatoes cooked in a traditional Cretan way with meatballs, yogurt with honey and home-made sweets and fruit. Furthermore, halva, traditional Cretan cheese, graviera, cheese pies and a great variety of Cretan desserts. Moreover, we offered excellent red wine from our vineyards. In the end, they said the best comments; we hope that they really enjoyed themselves.
But nothing was over… We returned late to our homes due to the fact that we were dancing constantly! We began dancing traditional Cretan dances and we even tried to teach our guests- apart from some who were taking photos!- and then our Spanish friends showed their traditional dances. They had great fun; it’s all about the traditions a country has! In the end, we, as teenagers, started putting modern music on the internet so as to dance with the others…
Antonia: It was awesome! Of course, we were AGAIN tired and…
Maria: …AGAIN we didn’t sleep when we went back home!
Antonia:Maria, do you want a tissue?
Maria:No thanks… I’ve got plenty of them, my Romanian friends gave me some; they knew that I would be crying…
Antonia: Maria, saying goodbye is always hard, you know.
Maria: saying goodbye to people you might never meet again, is much harder, Antonia, especially when you have spent an entire week and have gained great experiences!
Antonia: I recommend that we remember this day so as to understand the reason you cry… So, we began again that morning to go to school and to take our partners in our class, still exhausted from the previous night. Do you want to go on?
Maria: I will try to… we first went to the library where we had one more meeting and worked on the project all together like every day of the week Then the students were separated in two groups and some of them attended one class. We stayed with the Romanians and chatted with them as we didn’t have any lesson that hour.
Antonia: Then, I entered the class to tell the Spanish to meet me at the Comenius corner… Anyway, go on!
Maria: After, we had a math class where all the students of the program followed us. The most fascinating part of the hour was when the teacher asked us to solve an exercise based on the theory we had just been taught, one of the Romanian boys, with whom I had been sitting all week, stood up on the board and solved one part of it. Then everyone started clapping for him. After that we continued to solve the rest of the exercise together and we were checking our results. Exciting!!!
Antonia: Let me continue as I can discern the tear on your cheek… So, an hour later, our partners were taken to watch some videos with their teachers, we assume about the city, and then, we got the permission to stay with them during the last hour, out of the class. We took them to a quiet place because kids were still staring at them, 5 DAYS LATER!
Maria: …And then the crying began…
Antonia: Maria, do not remember that now… Ok, so, then, we were informed to go to the library in order to exchange presents…
Maria: …For the final goodbye…
Antonia: Yes Maria! So, the headmaster gave to them again more gifts and the Spanish offered us a board game they had made for which they had won a competition. We needed much time to exchange hugs and help, especially YOU, to stop crying…
Maria: I don’t think I was the only who was CRYING!! I was just the one who expressed my feelings!
Antonia: Anyway! Then, we took photos, altogether and then more photos at the Comenius corner and then more hugs and then more tears…
Maria: And then... we left…we couldn’t stay more …we left with tears in the eyes …but with the hope to meet them again… That's the magic of Comenius... Making friends you may never see again... Obtain memories that will follow you for the rest of your life and will keep you company when you feel lonely...WE HOPE TO MEET YOU SOON OUR FRIENDS… WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU …!
Created by Antonia Troullaki – Maria Spyridaki, students of the 3rd Gymnasio Irakliou Kritis, one of the partner schools of the European Comenius Programme:
“Let's go to school in Europe!”