Cultural Dialogue von Empowering Young People: 6. Reflection

4. Reflection

1.Pupils' view:

In the students' opinion, there should have been more contact between the meetings. We tried to stimulate the feedback on our videos but it was quite hard to achieve this goal. We never had thechance to have all classes online at the same time, otherwise we would have done a video conference or something like that. Facebook alone wasn't enough to have detailed conversations.

The idea of meeting new people  was of great importance for the students and considered to be a lot of fun. One pupil said: “It was great because I met new people.” During the whole project the students seemed to have  fun and enjoy being part of it. “It was a great experience to use English not only in school and to communicate with people from other countries.”

Some of the students had the feeling that the film only showed what everybody really wanted to show, but sometimes didn't show the real life in each country.

The young people were really happy to have a visible result. They were able to present their films and compare them with the others.
They enjoyed the necessity to speak English and to improve their language skills, as well as getting to know other cultures and cooperate, which included teamwork and its significance to achieve set goals. “The project was a huge and beautiful experience. I'm glad that I met many people and I'll remember them all my life. All the workshops were interesting and I learned a lot! Especially, I'll remember my friends from Cluster B, because we had a great time together!!” They also recognised the help of external partners. They learned how important it was to have specialists giving them information and insight into a topic, even if they thought they already knew everything.

It was important for them to develop their mutual communication and improve their public presentation skills.

This was one of our main targets; they had to deal with different ways of working and thinking. It was a huge effort for them to respect every idea and to find a good compromise. Presentations were one method practised and demanded during the whole project.
The students were so motivated that they had too many ideas and it was hard for them to select the right ones. Sometimes the time seemed to be too short, but they always managed to create a complete and good product. This was a good way to teach time management and delegate tasks.

“Very inspiring project for those who want to continue learning English at colleges. Thanks to everyone who made this project so memorable!”

The students  not only learned to work together on a project and communicate between cultures, they also developed in other areas, e.g. IT knowledge (making and cutting videos), appreciation of their own culture and its wealth. Patience was one skill they needed to get to the higher level. This is a positive side effect we hadn't thought about before, but one that is very important for them in order to strengthen their personality and local bonding.

Being allowed to use social media was seen as an important advantage for implementation. This was one significant point in our planning; we wanted to have a platform that was easy to access and close to the students’ daily life.

Travelling to foreign countries was an extra bonus for the students, although not all of them were able to go; most of them seemed to be fine with it.

Having a huge responsibility was seen as positive. As mentioned in the beginning, this was one of our goals; we wanted the students to be a big, trailbreaking part of the project.

This shows the pupils at their last meeting: how they finalised their impression in a picture

And how they sent their feelings down the Danube to other potential groups.


2.Teachers' view:

Besides the comments we already added to the students' view, we were astonished by the lessons learned. The students had to deal with some problems and they always managed to find a good solution.

Issues we had were the motivation and the fair assignment of tasks. It was hard to keep the young people motivated for such a long project. In between there were some phases in which there was no conversation between the schools. Therefore we learned that this most meaningful part of the project should have been enforced more often. This would have kept up the motivation, but it was amazing to see that the young people always managed to activate their strengths and create these outstanding results.

Fair assignments weren't always possible; students who put more effort into the project were rewarded by being a part of the final event in Vienna. It would have been better if the role assignment had been done more precisely in the beginning, so that no student felt redundant or had the chance to lean back and watch the others working.

Teachers' opinion: “The whole project was great and all the students were so hard-working and enthusiastic and represented their schools as best they could. We are so proud of them!”



3.Possible changes to the project:


  • More participants within the real meetings


We weren't really confident that it was a good idea for only a few students to have the chance to go to the real meetings. It was hard to keep the students motivated, and being at the meetings brought a huge gain in cultural awareness and language. We think it is important to provide this chance for everybody.



  • Tighter timetable


The working and waiting periods between the different meetings seemed to be too long for the students. A shorter time between the meetings would lead to continuous and more stimulating work. With a tighter timetable it will be even more important to keep within the time limits.



  • Setting objectives


The objectives should be set at the very beginning of the project. We did it too late; the students and teachers weren't sure what was expected from them. It would have been easier for all of us if the overall conditions had been established earlier; this would have provided more time on the actual project.



  • Follow and demand deadlines


In future projects we think it would be important to stick to the project deadlines. Since so many schools and students work together, this would make it easier to coordinate mutual activities and no school would have periods without activities. The project goals could be achieved in each country at the same time and on different levels.



  •  Enforce communication

As a result of not finishing each step simultaneously, it was hard to implement a feedback culture; some students gave comments on the videos while others were still working on the videos and missed that part; faster schools had already started the next step. Therefore, a real dialogue between the cultures didn't really happen, although it was one of our main aims. It is of great significance to enforce this, giving comments and having the chance to discuss it in advance.