A group of 15 students, accompanied by three teachers from Sir Michelangelo Refalo Sixth Form, Victoria, in December visited Villach in Austria and spent a week undertaking various educational and cultural activities as part of the Erasmusplus project ‘UnityTies: Bridging Cultures Through Traditions’.
The group was reciprocating a visit to Malta last November by an Austrian group from BG BRG St Martin School in Villach. The project’s main aim was to give the participants a deeper understanding of the culture of the respective countries.
On the first day, the Maltese group was greeted at the Austrian school with a warm welcome and a reception. Following a brief introduction and overview of the programme of the visit, the Maltese students were guided by their Austrian counterparts through their school.
The latter provided insights into their educational system, spanning students of various ages, and shared details about music and art lessons, as well as extracurricular activities available. They visited the various facilities such as music rooms, science laboratories, the library and the hall. A chemistry teacher also gave the students a chemistry experiment demonstration that left them in awe.
The Austrian students subsequently led a short guided tour through Villach’s city centre, showcasing its historical and cultural landmarks. Afterwards, the Maltese students took part in a scavenger hunt, answering questions about the city and capturing images of various sights. The day culminated with an ice-skating excursion at the city’s ice rink.
On the second day, the focus shifted to the exploration of the Maltese and Austrian students’ respective cultural backgrounds and traditions. Both groups took turns sharing various aspects of their cultural heritage, such as their typical food, clothing and music.
The students subsequently ventured into the city centre, asking people from different cultures about their unique traditions. Later that day, the two groups of students visited the Kärnten Therme Warmbad thermal baths, indulging in a relaxing and joyful experience.
On the third day, the students showcased and demonstrated arts and crafts representative of their respective cultures. They also shared a variety of traditional foods, discussed different cultural games, and delved into conversations about events they celebrate in their respective countries, including the Austrians’ infamous ‘Krampus’. The students also engaged in hands-on experiences, attempting to prepare traditional dishes from their diverse backgrounds.
On the fourth and final day at the school, the agenda comprised team discussions reflecting on the previous days’ experiences and the presentation of certificates.
The Austrian school presented the Maltese group with local treats as a token of thanks and as parting gifts. In the evening, the Maltese students attended a talent show put up by the Austrian students and had the pleasure of seeing them sing, dance and play instruments. After just two days of preparation, the Maltese group also took part in the show, performing the iconic Maltese song Inti Djamant.
On the students’ last day in Villach, they visited Villacher Alpe Rostratte, immersing themselves in what felt like a winter wonderland. The Austrian students also made a surprise appearance, this time with their sleds.
The learning opportunities were abundant, and the collective moments made the trip unforgettable
During the trip, the students also experienced various other sights and attractions, including the Alps, museums, castles, lakes, bridges, and much more. In addition to sightseeing, they tasted different cuisines and delved into local traditions. During their free time, the students also briefly visited a city in neighbouring Slovenia.
For the participants in this project, these experiences were not just about places; they also forged new friendships. The learning opportunities were abundant, and the collective moments made the trip unforgettable, creating memories that will definitely remain etched in their hearts forever.