An Erasmusplus project entitled ‘Multicultural aspects in our schools’ is currently in its second year, and after visiting Italy, Turkey and Germany, it was the time for the participants to visit Greece. The Maltese participants –two teachers and two students from the Alternative Learning Programme (ALP), Paola – travelled to the Greek island of Lesvos, off the coast of Turkey.
Lesvos has an area of 1,633 square kilometres and about 86,000 inhabitants and is famous for the cultivation of olive trees and its delicious oil. Some 11 million olive trees are grown here. It is also famous for its anise-flavoured liqueur Ouzo.
All the teachers of the participating countries – Germany, Italy, Romania, Turkey and Malta – were accommodated in a hotel in the city, while parents of local students hosted the visiting students. The school that hosted the participants was in another village called Papados, some 40 minutes’ drive from the hotel. This is a small vocational school with only about 100 students.
The theme of the mobility visit was art, and several workshops were organised in which students from all the participating countries took part; these included painting a mural and constructing cardboard-shaped animals. They also attended talks about art and dance.
Educational excursions were also organised. On the first day, the participants visited an old oil-producing factory not far from the school. They were given an interesting explanation of how the oil was produced, and were shown the old equipment that was used. At the end of the visit, the participants had a tasting session with oil, herbs and local bread.
Afterwards the participants went on a walking tour of the Mytilene, and later visited a refugee camp called Cara Tepe’. There, the person in charge called the commander who showed the participants around and explained how it is run. There are several hundred refugees staying in the camp. The refugees are treated with dignity and they live there as one big family. At the end of the visit, the participants were treated to a show performed by the refugees themselves.
On the second day, while the students were actively showing their painting capabilities, the teachers met to discuss the next meeting, which will take place in Malta.
On day three, the participants visited Sigri, a small fishing village at the western tip of the island. This place is famous for its petrified forest, which happened about 10 million years ago. The place has been designated as a protected natural monument; the forest is considered as one of the most beautiful monuments of global geological heritage. Once there, the students took part in some activities, such as shading leaves and cleaning petrified wood for conservation.
The following day, the participants visited Petra, the former municipality of the island of Lesvos. There they climbed some 110 steps to see a small beautiful Christian church. It was well worth the climb. Later they toured the picturesque village of Molyvos. There they had some free time, went to a local bar and had an informal chat while sipping an ice cold drink in the hot, sunny midday sun. Afterwards it was time for a family photo.
The last day was dedicated for some evaluation of the mobility and a certificate giving ceremony.
Since Lesbos is an island, fish is the most common food and the participants enjoyed some very delicious fish dishes. The island is full of stupendous beaches, breathtaking mountain scenery and above all, friendly people.
Apart from being of an educational nature, the visit served to strengthen relationships and start new friendships by working and living together as one family. Although the participants come from six different countries with different cultures, different traditions, different religions, different opinions, the visit showed that they can still live together in harmony, which is the main aim of the project.