Sunday, February 13, 2011

Belgium Exchange

After months of preparation, the Belgiums finally arrived on Saturday Feb 5th.  Ida and I have been planning for months on the activities to do and trying to make sure they would have the best experience.  In many European schools kids get to participate in exchanges to foreign countries.  The students in the French section usually go to France, etc and our Czech students are participating in a Belgium exchange.  30 students from Belgium were matched up with 30 of our Czech students.  Ida had many many meetings with the students and parents that would be participating to make sure everything would go smoothly.  The Belgium students would be staying at the homes of our Czech students during the week and when we go to Belgium, our Czech students would be staying at their homes.
       On Saturday we all met the Belgiums at the train station and sent the kids home with our Czechs so they could get to know each other.  Ida and I took the three Belgium teachers out for dinner and gave them a mini tour of Tabor.  On Sunday we had lunch at Ida's and then met the students for an evening of bowling.  The Belgiums speak three languages, French, Dutch, and English and our Czech speak multiple languages as well.  Even though all kids speak multiple languages they have to speak to each other in English since it is their only common language.  It is a wonderful opportunity to use and practice their English language.
     On Monday we took the kids to an art studio and the Czech students were creating plaster masks of the Belgium student's faces.  I have absolutely loved loved loved getting to know a new culture but it was a little disappointing to see how lazy some of the Belgium students were at this activity.  Some of the Belgium students were complaining that they were "allergic" to plaster and didn't want to participate.  Some of the girls were complaining that they "didn't want to mess up their makeup". be a teenager.  After the art activity we took the students to the underground tunnels and then to the museum.   Again, some of the Belgium students were pushing each other and acting so rude in the museum.  I had to play "mean teacher" again to keep the students in line.  I really hate being "mean teacher" but I could not believe how disrespectful some of the Beligum boys and girls were being.  They are young (15-16) but I am sure that you don't push each other into glass showcases in museums in Belgium either.  Although there were some disrespectful students, there were some absolutely fabulous Belgium students as well.  It definitely reminded me of my classroom back home...after the long time at the museum we went back to school and then we took them to MP7 for some music and social time.
     On Tuesday a small group of Czech students (we have working groups of Czech students so the 30 participating don't miss school everyday) and Ida took the Belgiums to Pisek.  I didn't go along so I don't what the experience was like.  When they got back, we took the teachers out for dinner and hung out.  I thought the Belgium teachers were great and very friendly.
     On Wednesday, Zuzka took the Belgiums to Cesky Krumlov for the day.  I had to stay at school to teach so again I don't know what the day was like.  Zuzka said the day went great.  Again, Ida and took the Belgium teachers out to dinner.
     On Thursday, Ida and I took the students to Prague. We went to the Castle, Church, Old Town Square, Clock and to Wencelas Square.  Again I am reallllly trying to focus on the positives but some of the Belgium boys were throwing rocks at the birds and not paying attention to our Czech speakers.  Instead of being frustrated I kept appreciating how wonderful our Czech students are.  I just appreciate the maturity of our Czech students.  We made it back to Tabor around 5:30 and the Czech students met us at the bus station to take their Belgium partners home.  Us teachers went out to dinner.

     On Friday the Belgium students got to spend some time in our Czech classes.  After the classes we had a sports day for them.  The Czech students worked very hard to create some stations and most of the Belgiums had a great time.  Unfortunately, there was a group of boys again that just couldn't help being disrespectful.  I was glad when the sports day was over.  At 4pm we had our farewell party.  Each Belgium and their Czech partners performed some type of skit from reading a poem, to re creating a fairy tale.  I was VERY impressed with all their effort and collaboration.
 The "Judges" at our Farewell Party.  Iva and Raf, and Bert (Two of the Belgium teachers on right)
The entire group of Czechs and Belgiums
 Medieval Dinner.  I am participating in a Medieval dance
I make Medieval Fashion look great :)
 Ida and I performed the last dance from Chicago.  She and practiced for about a month to learn the steps. It was a surprise to everyone and Ida and I were sooo nervous.  I think we remembered all our is all a blur at the moment.
 We had a wonderful last night dinner.  Zuzka (in front left) then clockwise, Bert, Guy, Raf, Romana, and Iva
Ida (on left), Bert, Raf, Me, and Guy


  1. hi emily,

    in case you're wondering who this is, i work as a substitute at lssd. yesterday my husband and i had katerina and michael over for cuban food and they will soon have us over goulash and dumplings which we are really looking forward to. it was real nice getting to know them and i'm sure we will get together several times during the rest of their stay here. she told us all about their experiences here and a bit about your travels there. you are so fortunate to be able to have such an experience. i read this post and took a quick look through your older posts and after seeing all those beautiful pictures, i am determined that we will visit the czech republic someday. when i have more time, i will read your other posts.

    take care and enjoy the rest of your time there.

    teresa freeburn

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