In November 2019, two colleagues from the Belgian PCVO Het Perspectief (center for adult education) went to Larnaca (Cyprus) as part of the European KA1 project 'Glans met tweede kans'. The purpose of this visit was to carry out a job shadowing / teaching assignment at a school that only provides second-chance education in order to develop and shape the center's second-chance education.
Christos, Willem De Meyer, director Mikella Psara of our guest school Esperino Gymnasio Kai Lykei and Anja Dobbelaere.
It is strange to go to Cyprus with a thick coat and to feel much too hot in the evening and to be able to walk around in the sun for a week without a coat. The seasons in Europe are clearly very different. Cyprus is a peculiar island. It is strategically located. Therefore several major powers occupy this island and some still have tens of thousands of soldiers there. The island has 330 days of sunshine and also in the "winter" it is very often 20 degrees or more. During summer, many Cypriots go north because even they find 40 or 50 degrees too hot. The drought problem in Flanders is small beer compared to the problem on this island where it rains very seldom. Just about every house has a water tank on the roof to store water for the dry periods and for the moments when no water comes out of the tap. It is a strange sight to see a water tank with a supply of drinking water on every roof and a smaller tank for hot water next to it. People also need a cat to catch the small black snakes. That is why you see bowls almost for cat food everywhere in the city.
The first evening of our arrival we had a working dinner with a colleague who had to leave his school recently. In Cyprus a teacher is obliged to change schools after a maximum of eight years to another school in the city or even another school somewhere else in the country. It is not such a nice prospect as a teacher to know that you have to start all over every eight years.
The Cypriot partner school welcomed us very warmly and there was an immediate good relationship with the teachers. The fact that we also gave some computer science and Dutch lessons was a good ice breaker and made sure that we were greeted by several students in Dutch in the following days. A strange feeling this was, being 3,000 km from home.
Teaching in a school in Cyprus. A very special experience.
The lessons only last forty minutes in Cyprus, but the students take five lessons a day, five days a week and this often after a full working day. Hats off!
Christos was our colleague / driver / guide and above all, our friend. A successful mobility starts with good local contacts. We felt welcome from the very first moment and not only in the school but also at home with the Cypriots. The funniest thing was that people in Cypus were considering copying the Belgian state structure in order to get out of the impasse with the occupied zone in the north of Cyprus. Really crazy to hear that our many governments were seen as a possible solution to a problem that has been dragging on for nearly fifty years. Deportation, no-man's-land, a real border, ... These are concepts that get a completely different meaning when you are in the midst of it. Going to another European country often makes you realize how good we are at home. Even though it often rains in Belgium for days, the other extreme of 330 consecutive days of sunshine sometimes even causes bigger problems.
Less than a month later now, we are still in contact with our partners in Cyprus and they already asked us to receive their Erasmus + mobility team in Belgium.
In Belgium we made it with our vlogs in a very famous early-evening television program. This is also nice for the partner school to see that we talk about them at home and share the results.
Willem in the television programme 'Iedereen beroemd' about the snakes in Cyprus. (Willem can be seen at minute 1).
This first mobility within the framework of our GLAMET-project was very successful. On to our next Erasmus+ mobility.