16 January 2013

Project week in Italy (25 - 30 Nov. 2012)

The diary of this project week is available at the page about the week in Sciacca.

Project Week #4: Sciacca, Italy - Photo Gallery

To give a general impression, here's the English translation of the newspaper article that was published about it in the "Amberger Zeitung":

S4T teams on sightseeing tour in Palermo

The idea of Europe in their hearts

The fourth project week in the Comenius project “Spotlights for Tolerance” took place at the Italian partner school, IISS “Don Michele Arena” in Sciacca, involving students and teachers from Poland, Romania, Turkey and Germany.

As far as size is concerned, this town on the southern coast of Sicily is just like Amberg - but there are also huge differences, both climatically and geographically. So, for example, everybody had to get out their summer clothes for the stroll along Sciacca sea front - in balmy 24° Celsius air (very unusual at this time of the year for the teams from Poland, Romania and Germany, but no surprise for the Turkish team).

But the mild climate was only a pleasant side effect - everybody gave their best for the common theatre project, directed by drama teacher and tour guide Liz Mitchell.
In this variation of the “tolerance” topic, there were two “restaurants” that had sharply contrasting atmospheres. One of the stage restaurants was intolerant, and customers who looked or behaved differently were treated very unkindly or even thrown out; the other restaurant was a tolerant one - with a completely different tone and behaviour towards unusual customers: friendly and welcoming. After playing out these differences in a variety of nuances, the players came to the middle of the stage, one by one, each giving the opposite number in the other restaurant a greeting of peace and reconciliation.

English teacher Rosaria Gallerano, the local coordinator, had put together an attractive sightseeing programme. It started with getting to know the charming town of Sciacca, whose harbour and medieval town centre were admired by the visitors. Other sights during the week were the Valley of the Temples, with the town of Agrigento next to it, the mountain village of Erice with its impressive castle, and the beautiful city of Palermo, where the project team visited the cathedral and its extraordinary mixture of architectural styles, and the Cappella Palatina with its marvellous mosaic interior from Norman times.

The Comenius project teams were given warm welcomes by the mayor of Sciacca, Fabrizio Di Paola, and by the head of the Carabinieri for Agrigento province, Colonnello Riccardo Sciuto. The reception at the Carabinieri headquarters was something unusual, but its link to the project became clear in Sciuto’s speech. He underlined the importance of a twofold look at the law: On the one hand, law enforcement (from top down) is vital, but on the other hand, the support of law through the community (from the roots) is indispensable; so citizens and the executive must keep together. This is the only way to fight organized crime, e.g. the Mafia, and to stop it. Tolerance is important, he said, but there must be no tolerance for illegality.

Great hospitality, great emotions and great gestures - this might be a fitting summary of this meeting of European partners. The celebration of welcome and farewell parties with national anthems and the European anthem, the performances of the partner countries, especially the songs, dances and presentations of the “Don Michele Arena” students, and the speeches of headmistress Gabriella Bruccoleri, who demonstrated a convincing and energetic enthusiasm for Europe, - all this made it clear to the students that this cooperation of partner schools across European borders is something really substantial. One of the main aims of the project, however, friendship between students from different countries, developed on its own - growing from acting together, cooperating on the stage, sharing curiosity and surprise about the beauties of Sicilian culture and landscape, and the joy about feeling welcome in the families that hosted their European guests and spoiled them with delicious food.

Full of gratitude, all the participants took leave at the end - looking forward together to the last project week, which is going to take place at Dr.-Johanna-Decker-Gymnasium in Amberg in the middle of March.