Tuesday, 15 May 2012

My European luggage

Since the beginning of my career as a teacher, I am taking part in a fantastic journey. Where will I go? I don’t know the answer, but it is so exciting!

I started in a small village, called Bordány, in the south of Hungary. It wasn’t a long stay, only one school year. Even if it was a really short time, I was happy because of my pupils, and because of the feeling: yes, my childhood dream came true, I am a teacher! A young and motivated teacher, just moving the very first steps - with some insecurities and doubts but, at the same time, trying to do my best for my pupils.

My journey went on, in one of the school of my town, Szeged, where I am still working. I came here more than ten years ago. I worked in the afternoon school, I was responsible for the organization of cultural events, and during the years I got to know about new European initiatives, like the eTwinning and Comenius Programme. I was really curious and wanted to know more about them. And – since traveling with friends is much more exciting – I looked for new European partners. New friends for my pupils, and for me.

I met my friend, Laura, and we started together a new and great adventure: a travel to Europe, with a lot of challenges. A travel to the „land of projects”, sharing ideas, having fun with our pupils, and, yes, with a lot of new competences. I put in my luggage a dictionary with new expressions – a new world for me.
Lifelong Learning, ICT, project, dissemination, monitoring… how many new words to learn, to use and try out in the practice during the travel!
Even if at the beginning it was a virtual journey, at school we felt we had new friends from another country who were with us in the classroom, and even if they lived in Italy, we could meet them by having fun and learning together, and they were parts of our everyday life at school.
After the virtual journey, going on with our projects we had the first meetings in Italy and in Hungary. In 2008 we organized together the Italian week of Culture in our town. What a great experience!! Pupil choir, pupil actors, teacher presentations, exhibitions, sharing our experiences and meeting with the local authorities… a real European celebration. And in this magical year our school had the possibility to start two Comenius projects. I worked on the projects as a coordinator teacher. It was a new beginning for me, my pupils and my colleagues as well. We learned a lot about the culture of other countries, about tolerance, understanding and different education systems. Our small old school worked together with schools from 13 other European countries!! And Italy, our friends’ land, was always there.
I visited lots of countries, from Turkey to Portugal, and I had the opportunity to visit many schools as well. I think this was one of the most motivating part of the Lifelong Learning Programme. Whenever I could visit one of our partner schools, I always felt I knew more about real life in that country. As a teacher I learned new strategies, I shared ideas with other colleagues, and I felt that as teachers in Europe we have similar experiences in the classroom, even if sometimes we are in a really different environment, and we have different opportunities.
I met children in the desert, near to the Sirian border, in Turkey, who live in a very disadvantaged area. I know the real meaning of the word: poverty. I was so sad because I couldn’t help them. I visited there another school of the region. There were 5000 pupils in the school! I had never seen so many pupils in a school. I respect a lot my colleagues who try to do their best to teach so many children. I learned a new meaning of the word : diversity. In the same country, I visited another partner school in Dalaman. I took a lesson in a class with only 7 pupils.
In traveling around Europe I found systems and schools I liked a lot, and I compared my school to the others. It was a miracle for me to see the richness of materials that our colleagues in France had at school. Colored papers, pens, pencils, books, a room only to play… in a school in England there was a theatre just for performances and for pupils’ shows, another room for meditation and so on.. I actually think that even if we in our school don’t have all this things, we try to use more of our creativity. And it is possible to do a lot of nice things together with our pupils this way as well. Together with good people, partners, colleagues, pupils, friends we can do it.
At the beginning of May I had a special travel. I went to Brussels because of our eTwinning/Comenius project, Bridges of Water, a project we run with our Italian, Slovakian, Spanish, Turkish partners. It was an interesting conference about school teams with new information and ideas. And I could visit Parlamentarium, a centre where it is possible to know the history of EU. It was incredible, I could be really there. I was moved. And I felt I would like to share this moment with my friend and partner, Laura, who is always with me in my European adventures, with my colleagues in the partner schools, with my colleagues who help me in my own school. And, with my pupils.. I would like to tell them that sometimes we think our dreams will never come true, they seem too far from us… but, fortunately, our dreams can come true.
Now, I have so many things in my European luggage: children’s smiles, friends, challenges, sharing, memories, ideas and hopes. I hope I’ll go on with my great European travel. The travel that helps and helped me a lot in being the teacher I am.


  1. Thank you Monika for this lovely article about your life as a teacher. I'm happy I share some of your journey :)
    I think we are among those teachers (luckily, more and more in time) who are growing in an European dimension together with their students.
    And that's a beautiful and exciting adventure.


  2. Dear Laura,
    thank you for your words.)
    It's always nice to have together with you and with our pupils our adventures.
    And hope, many teachers will meet their partner in Europe and they can share as well their experiences.
    I am lucky,I met my twin :), and I hope we will have many great adventures together during our European journey for a long time).

  3. I like your posts a lot Monika, it's so nice to read your story.It's also beautiful to see how you and Laura managed to make friends through European projects.
    Yes, Comenius, eTwinning etc can be a great place to meet new colleagues and hopefully friends !
    Thank you for your articles,

  4. Thank you for being with us, Teresa!! We don't know each other personally, but I am happy to know and meet you here. And..really thank you for sharing your experiences and ideas,