Veliki Bukovec Primary School team visiting Italy: Marta Bačani, Marija Kuzmić, Elena Kovaček, Rudolf Leon Filip, teachers: Sanja Ivačić and Štefanija Šarec
This school year has been yet another very fruitful year filled with project activities. The fifth and the final meeting of the two-year Comenius project „Be Smart, Be Safe“ has just been successfully realized. Schools from Croatia, France, Italy, Sweden and Cyprus are partners in this project; nearly 1500 students, their teachers, parents and local communities. This project is funded with support from the European Commission.
Primary goals of this project are raising the students' awareness about both the positive as well as the negative effects of Internet use, and developing their skills needed to use the Internet in more appropriate, responsible and safer way; implementing teaching about Internet safety across the school curriculum; developing children's skills for participating in international projects and giving them the opportunity to get to know, communicate and cooperate with their foreign peers from various European countries.
In October 2012 Croatia was the first country to host it's visiting partner schools' representatives; Sweden in March 2013, Cyprus in may 2013 and in October 2013, France. From April 7 until April 13 2014 the fifth meeting was hosted in Italy's picturesque town of Trani.
Trani is a seaport on the south-east of the Apennine Peninsula, in the Apulla region, lying on the Adriatic coast 45 kilometres north-east of Bari. It is the centre of the surrounding agricultural area, famous for it's Muscat (Moscato) wines and marble stone quarries, with it's economy resting on fishing and tourism.
JOURNEY TO TRANI
In the early morning hours of Monday, April 7, the Veliki Bukovec team set out for Zagreb Airport in the local fire brigade minivan. It was a very exciting moment for the most of the team members, since it would be the first flight for us. That did not put us off, quite the opposite, we enjoyed the flight and the view of out wonderful homeland. We briefly got off the plane in Split Airport to go through Customs, and then continued our flight towards Rome Airport. There we had a couple of hours to spare before the day's final flight to Bari. It proved to be the most impressing one because it was a night flight, but the not-so-impressing part was when, upon arrival, we realized that the half of our checked-in luggage was missing. So we were a bit delayed registering at the Lost and Found Office, but our Trani hosts were kind enough to wait and greet us in the most friendly manner, even though it was very late when we finally arrived. Immediately it was clear to us that we'd arrived to a country of outgoing and attentive people. They were eager to provide what was necessary to those whose luggage was missing.
The next morning, all the participants gathered at the assembly hall in our hosting school Scuola Secondaria di Primo „Bovio – Palumbo“. We were a little bit sceptic regarding getting to know each other and communicating, but when we saw familiar friendly faces of our dear colleagues we came to know before, everything was much easier and jollier. At the beginning of the show we were greeted by Trani Mayor and the school principal.
introducing our school
Our team was the first to present our school and we chose to tell the legend about the origin of the tie. We based our presentation on a story by Božidar Prosenjak, and we also included a song about the wonderful Bukovec area to accompany it. The remaining schools' presentations were interesting, but the hosting school managed to impress us with their students' performing skills, which included acting, singing and dancing.
GETTING TO KNOW TRANI'S SIGHTS WHILE LEARNING ABOUT IT'S HISTORY AS WELL
The afternoon of the first day was quite amazing and interesting – we went on a treasure hunt! Both the students and the visiting teachers were organized into four groups, each consisting of pupils of all nationalities. Each group was given an envelope with a clue that was to get them to a designated location by a historic sight using a QR reader. A teacher and a small group of hosting children were there, waiting to tell us something about it and to give as another clue which would then guide us to the next location. The most prominent one proved to be the Cathedral of St Nicolas the Pilgrim with it's three levels, one of which lies under ground. We finished our tour with a visit to Trani castle where we heard an interesting story about queen Helen and brave warriors who bravely defended the city in the past.
INTERNET SAFETY WORKSHOPS
Once again students gathered at the school, but this time in order to participate in internet safety workshops. They were organized in two big groups. One of them worked on materials for an e-magazine they gathered during the school year, and the other was to test, evaluate and distinguish real websites from fake ones. In each of these groups students were organised in even smaller groups consisting of a representative from each country. So they were forced to communicate with each other in English (or in what ever way they could), and they managed to cooperate very well. They later presented their results to the remaining students. Another workshop that took place was the one involving creating interactive stories about internet safety, which was also quite interesting and successful.
Elena editing the digital magazine
The team of teachers was working on pedagogical and didactical model. After reviewing what had been done before and sharing some new ideas that came up since the last meeting, we discussed many issues, involving the form of the model, it's contents, use and the means of accomplishing and evaluating the goals. We also discussed our experiences in the curricular and practical field and compared the differences and the similarities of our work. Putting our heads together we managed to create a document we thought would embody everything we wanted.
From the very first visit to Bovio Palumbo School it was clear to us that the students, as well as the teachers, give much attention to art and are quite skilled. Huge mosaics made of small pieces of glass are hung on the walls of the school, depicting famous and interesting moments in Italian history. That is why the hosts had prepared a set of interesting workshops for us to get involved.
While one group of students got their hands dirty using clay to create little owl-shaped pendants, starfish and dwarfs, the other was testing their patience and stillness of hand decorating glass plates with decoupage.
Making famous Italian pasta “orecchiette” the traditional way
Teachers had the privilege to prove their culinary skills. After a detailed demonstration, courtesy of experienced Trani housewives, they engaged in what seemed to be an easy job, but proved to be quite the opposite. Nevertheless, we didn't return home empty-handed, our hosts kindly packed us some of their delicious home-made orecchiette.
All those participating in the “Be Smart Be Safe” project had the privilege to be greeted and welcomed by the mayor Luigi Nicola Riserbato in his office. Even though he had already greeted us upon our arrival the first day at school, it was a pleasure to be in his company again and listen to his words of praise and enthusiasm about our project activities.
The mayor, the school principal and professor Marilina Lonigro
Our hosts made an effort to organise a few excursions where we learnt about the historical, cultural and economical features of the Apulla region.
We visited a medieval citadel and castle called Castel del Monte not far from Trani, which has a shape of an octagon and is known as the most fascinating castle built by Fredrick II.
Andria, a city that we visited, is one of the largest in Apulla region. There we visited the Confetionery and Museum Mucci Giovanni and enjoyed the unparalleled taste of authentic, small masterpieces of the confectionery art.
Another city we visited got it's name after the first Italian queen, Margherita di Savoia. It lies by the salt flats where Europe's largest saltpan, dating from 2nd century BC, is even now situated. In the Historical Museum of Saltern we learnt about the history, processes and stages of salt water evaporation.
The last excursion was to a place which seemed to us as a true fairy tale setting – Alberobello, a small town about 45 kilometres from Bari, special for it's white houses with unique cone-shaped rooftops. On our way there we enjoyed the scenery of olive groves, vast vineyards and blossoming citrus orchards.
Project members group photo in Alberobello
TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
The last night in Trani all the children, teachers and parents gathered at Clarisse's Convent where we enjoyed local cuisine and each other's company, singing, dancing and laughing. These last moments were very emotional and we were all a little bit sad knowing that tomorrow we would have to part.
The next morning we met in front of the school, just like every day before, but many had tears in their eyes. Clouds covered the Trani sky that morning and the rain came down. New friends long said their farewells and could not let go of each other. We all felt grateful to lovely people who took us in their city, their homes and their hearts, and showed us true Italian hospitality.
Together with our friends from Sweden, France and Cyprus, we took the bus to Bari Airport and eventually we all separated to continue our ways back home.
Late in the evening we were at the doorsteps of our homes, which, even though we had a great time in Italy, we started to miss. We were tired from the journey but fulfilled and happy for the success of another meeting which had contributed to development of internet safety awareness.
The experience we all gained was immense and unforgettable. Through themed workshops we managed to see new places, meet people, experience their culture and the way of life. We gathered plenty new ideas and made valuable friendships that will certainly go on, but in a virtual world. And because we've learned, we will know how to keep them safe.