Thursday, 1 March 2012

Why I like eTwinning. Whatever.

I feel this is going to be quite an emotional post. So, if you don’t like the genre, just skip to the next one.

It has to do with how I see myself, as a person and as a teacher. With the ideas I believe in: Europe, cooperation, solidarity, lifelong learning. With the people I love: friends, family, kids. And the people I could love if I knew them. Sorry, I’m not yet to the point where I love ‘people’ in general (beatification has to wait).

I think the whole thing started at school - am I too late for suing my teachers? For they put this idea into my head that I was the citizen of the future, and that I’d have to change the world. And I believed them. I think we all did. So now, when you feel depressed, just think how powerful teachers’ words can be.

Next thing that I know, I was a teenager, and the Cold War was in its final phase. I remember how excited I got at President Michail Gorbačëv and his гла́сность – I hope that’s the right spelling: I actually was so thrilled that I decided to study Russian at University… but my Russian is almost lost by now (while my excitement isn’t at all).

Then, all of a sudden, the 9th of November 1989 and the fall of the Berlin wall: and I thought it was official, I was witness to the beginning of the new world. I’ve sometimes been talking about this with my best friends and we all felt the same. Well, we didn’t actually change the world, let’s say the world had been changed for us. Which was fine. Now, we just had to go on from that point.

At the same time, we were following the European steps towards the EU. At the Maastricht Treaty we were in our 20es and we dreamt of traveling/studying/working/living all around Europe feeling Europeans. We discovered Erasmus and that was another huge thrill.

What now? Obviously, the world has changed. Despite my teachers’ prediction, I’ve not changed it – which is good, as I can say “not my fault”.

What’s happening to Europe? Why haven’t we gone where we were supposed to go?
Are we doomed to national selfishness? Is it an improved model of selfishness?
And money, is ultimately the answer? Always?

I used to feel a sense of failure for not doing my part. Then – here we come to the title of this crazy post – I realized I’m giving my tiny contribution to push Europe the direction I believe in. I’m doing it through eTwinning. Of course I have to use the tools I have, and as a teacher I chose eTwinning to help my pupils realize Europe really exists, it’s made of real people, and it’s worth their time and efforts.

So, I like eTwinning for
  • allowing me and my pupils to meet those people, and feel them as ‘real’
  • preventing my pupils from being disappointed (as I was) at not changing the world: for they will, starting by now with writing to their unknown e-pal
  • gathering together teachers who still believe in the EU
  • showing me how to perform better in my profession through collaboration
  • engaging me and my pupils in a learning adventure that can be a lifelong adventure.

Ok, it could be better. There are issues: no money, no official recognition, European and national strategies clashing... they'll have to work on this (whoever this "they" could be).

Meanwhile, I’ve been rethinking the whole “changing the world” thing. “World” has a vague meaning, just like “people” in general. Changing things has more to do with interacting and working together with real people you care for.

Ultimately, I like eTwinning for the people I’ve met through it, and for those I will.
And yes, that's my contribution to Europe.


  1. You know I could have written this post myself :-) Ultimately I believe that often the big picture doesn't matter because it is made up of a series of little pictures, ordinary people who have a dream and work hard at their level to make that dream come true.

    For me that is what eTwinning is, the opportunity for people to dream a little and work with other dreamers.. only in this way can the world be changed, can greed be overcome, can vision be pursued.

    I believe, that one of the great needs if you want to make a change is belief; belief that the things you do and say have an effect ( often unseen and maybe unknown to yourself) on the people that surround you. Remember this effect can be for both good and bad, so be cautious.

    If you have this belief in what you are trying to do then what happens around you is irrelevant, because you are making a difference in small ways to the lives of your pupils, the way they learn to see the world, judge people; to the lives of your colleagues; and above all to your own life. As long as we in Europe can find the means to share, laugh and work together then that in itself is a reward

    Anne Gillerad

    1. Thank you for your comment Anne!
      Two points impressed me most:
      - when you say eTwinning is "the opportunity for people to dream a little and work with other dreamers". I loved this. It's like having people dreaming your same dream
      - when you say "share, laugh and work together then that in itself is a reward". That's what I'd like to teach my pupils - how to share their lives with those of others, learning & having fun in the process.

      I forgot to write this in the post, but another reason why I like eTwinning is what you said once "eTwinning is the place where you're allowed to fail". Anyone should be.

      Thank you (for dreaming on)


  2. Yes, I could have written this post TOO!!!
    We all believe your warm words and we work
    in etwinning because we wait for something better
    tomorrow or after tomorrow!!!
    I absolutely agree with you Ladies!!!
    I want a better Future for our us
    and for our children!!!

    1. Dear Laura,
      reading your post I "relived" some of my memories. I remember, how enthusiastic were people in Hungary because of a new kind of liberty.

      I remember, I was 13 years old, and all school, teachers and pupils together we watched TV at gym, because of the birth of new Republic of Hungary. It really seemed, everything is possible...

      And we "learned", maybe not everything it could be changed, but there are opportunities and great things what we can live together and share.
      One of this great experiences for me is eTwinning.

      I like it as a teacher, because as you said, our pupils and we feel, we are not alone.

      Because our pupils (and we, teachers too)feel, what does the collaboration mean.

      I think, it is very nice,we help them make friendships.
      Children can change messages, and -as an Italian language teacher- I like a lot, the words, what we learn during the lessons, are important, because help children to communicate each other.
      It happened, one of my pupil decided to learn Italian at the University in the future because of her Twin (Thank you, Martina!!!).

      I like it because of all our adventures what we lived together with our pupils and friends.

      And yes, I like to be a LifelongLearningTeacher.

      Thank you, really, for your post, Laura.

    2. Hi Laura, I also share your thoughts and experiences.. evan,as I' m a bit older, I could aslo experience the life " on the other part of iron curtain". I studied Russian in Moscow for a long anc cold winter in 1984 and there I could meet some extraordinary people from all the world all with same hope: changing the world.There I firts could hear Gorbacev name, quoted by Czech students as a " different" member of Politburo. Some years later I could even meet him and Raissa in Rome and shake their hand, too!
      I'm not sure that what we are actually doing with cooperation in education is just a little thing. I think that we are practising daily a new form of Europe, that is another thing of " bank" Europe, that is something real, the basis for future cooperatione and integration. When my 7 years old pupils watch the Tv and the day after come to school and ask me: - We know that our friends in Athens are having big trouble. Can we help them? If they leave Europe does it mean we can't go on on writing letters?- Ok, this means they understiid better than Eurobank what is Europe nowadays.

    3. Dear Marika,
      I know you could have written my same words, because since we got to know each other we've always been on the same wavelenght - how we feel about our job, our students, our countries... Even if we've never met off-line, I know we've so much in common. That's the best thing of eTwinning, meeting people like you. But I'd tell a lie if I said I'm not dying to meet you in person!!!!!! Who knows? sooner or later, at some eTwinning event?...
      A big hug, thanks for being here, and for being a friend

    4. Monika, we should meet once and put together all the pieces of the European jigsaw puzzle that come from our lives. We're the same age, but we've very different life experiences. That's another great asset of eTwinning: putting you in contact with people who have so much in common with you, but could come from another galaxy for the different reality they lived.
      And then, how many chances did we have to eventually meet without eTwinning? almost zero I think.
      So, here's another reason why I like eTwinning: meeting you.

    5. Dear Laura,
      I like your idea with European jigsaw puzzle. It could be really interesting to put together our puzzle memories.

      It's true, eTwinning helps meet people.

      And I am happy to tell it:eTwinning helped me to meet you and find my Twin.

  3. Hi Paola,
    I envy you! I've never been to Russia and I'm dreaming of St Peterburg and Moscow... and you've actually got to live there, and know one of the men I admire most. I think living in Russia in 1984 should have been like living in a different planet. I can understand the huge amount of hopes, dreams and belief in the future. And I'm wondering: did they get lost?
    This makes me pessimistic.

    But the bright side of it is that we're here talking about dreams, Europe and ideas. And we're speaking to each other, and to our pupils.
    It's true what you say: children caring about their Greek friends are the biggest success for us as teachers and for the European "dream".

    I hope in my career I'll meet lots of Italian teachers like you. So thank you again eTwinning. and thank you Paola!

  4. Irene Pateraki3 March 2012 at 00:33

    Hello Laura,
    I have to say that I agree with all the above comments. eTwinning is an opportunity for you and your students to dream. I will never forget, 4 years ago I was in a kindergarten school that was hosted in the music class of a primary school, as there were lot of kids and no building to host them. The first two months we had only 30 crayons and some A4 papers for 24 children. Nothing I thought: let's do an eTwinning project..and our whole everyday routine at class changed! A year later one of the kids called me to wish me Merry Chirstmas and he told me: "Our new teacher hasn't organized any eTwinning project, I miss my friends from the other countries!" He was only 6 and he had understood the "real" Europe!
    As for me, I have to say that it's such a great feeling to say that I have friends all over Europe! It's wonderful when I have the opportunity to meet my eTwinning friends in person and share so strong feelings. I met you in Genova, Laura, and I felt like meeting a friend that I just haven't seen in person for some years!
    Now, that my country faces so difficulties it's so touching to have people around Europe sending me their sympathy and saying a good word for the Greeks!
    I could write so many things, when I start talking about eTwinning I cannot stop. I just want to finish with a video we had created for the 5 years of eTwinning with my partnera that I believe explains exactly what eTwinning is: (I suppose you will understand english version best ;-) )


    1. Hi Irene,
      I already knew we had lots of ideas and experiences in common. Well, now I know we have one more: pupils coming back to us, after a couple of years (or even just months), saying "I miss my European friends. We don't do anything of that kind at the new school!". That's pretty frustrating. I think we should disseminate our experiences and the eTwinning practice so as to avoid things like these happening again.
      I also share your feelings when we talk about partners from different countries showing us their support for our difficult situation (despite what they say, Italy and Greece are very much the same).
      Not to mention how much I loved all of my European friends supporting me in my personal "difficult situation" (sounds familiar to you???? :-D ).
      I love your video and I knew it, I think I'll ask you for the embed code. We could put it in a post together with some others of Monika's students and mine. So as to show our pupils' vision of Europe.
      What do you think?

    2. Irene Pateraki9 March 2012 at 03:03

      Hello Laura,
      it's a great idea, I will send you the embed code in FB because it doesnt accept it here.
      As for the friends I have in eTwinning, they always remind me the friends I had when I was young and I was corresponding with my pen-pals but now it's much more exciting!!!