Feedback from participants

Feedback about Lithuanian Mobility by Turkish teacher SEZGİN SÖZEN

We experienced a wonderful 5 – weekday during our stay in Lithuania. The program started with Lithuanian national folk dance at 9.00 o’clock on Monday in the conference hall in Mazeikiai Merkelis Rackauskas Gymnasium. By watching this performance, we could have a brief understanding of how Lithuanian lived and what kind of clothes they wore in the past. They looked like modest, cheerful and self-confident people as we could understand from their dances. Then our coordinator, Irena Urboniene, made a welcoming and opening speech for us. Later, the school manager, Asta Zukauskiene welcomed all the guests. Then, the vice mayor made a speech and she mentioned about the dance and added that people originally wore wooden shoes during this dance. After that, we listened to a folk song sung in a choir, which impressed us a lot. It was like a divine chant. Although the students were singing different parts of the lyrics at the same time, they were in perfect harmony. Moreover, while they were singing, they were moving in different directions and it made the song more attractive and glamorous. Later, we watched a modern dance and listened to a modern song sung by a music band that was consisted of three male students. The performers were awesome. Thanks to their performances, we could understand the modern life and the life in the past in Lithuania better. Then, our coordinator invited all the participants and we introduced themselves in short and gave our presents to our coordinator. Later, our coordinator country also gave presents to us. There was a handmade lace bookmark. It was precious and valuable for us.

We had a tour in the school. We went on the first floor. There was a billboard. On the billboard there were students’ photos. They were the winners of the school contests which were based on skills. On the walls, there were current teachers’ photos in black and white with their philosophy of life, that is, with their mottos. It was so creative. It provided a learning atmosphere in the school by just looking at the walls. It was peripheral learning. In this way, learning occurred in students’ minds by just looking at their environment without conscious attention. We visited some classes and saw the staffroom. The teachers’ room had 2 parts; one was allocated to working and one was to resting. It was quite appropriate. Each teacher had his or her own classroom. In the classrooms, there were projectors and projection screens. The number of the students was approximately 15.

We attended a Lithuanian course. The teacher talked in Lithuanian and two students translated her speech into English. The speech was also reflected on the projection screen. We learned the basic expressions in Lithuanian.  Some of them are hello (laba diena), good morning (labas rytas), I am fine ( as gerai).

At the end of the Lithuanian lesson, the teacher used the KAHOOT application just in order to test the listeners’ understanding and so as to get some immediate feedback about their learning. It was a perfect method to increase the listeners’ motivation towards the lessons. We appreciated it. We attended in Geography and history lessons about Lithuania. In terms of geographical features, we have learned some facts about Lithuania. For example, Lithuania is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is abundant in meadows. It is flat, except for small hills no higher than 10 meters. The land is marked by numerous small lakes and swamps like the information we learned while we were reading the book, Whitehorn’s Windmill. It covers an area of about 65 km2. It has 5 regions and each has its own dialects. The speaker expressed that sometimes, people from different regions can’t understand each other because of these dialects. As to the weather, it has a humid continental climate and it is famous for its amber.

In terms of history, we learned some other facts. For instance, they invaded by Poland, German and Soviet Union. Lithuania was captured by Russia in July 1944, becoming a country under communist rule. In September 1991 Lithuania finally became independent and joined the United Nations, but there were still many Russian soldiers in Lithuania until 1993. After these informative lessons, we also had a test to check our comprehension. We answered some questions on Lithuanian geography and history. Technology and the lessons were interwoven jointly in a positive way to strengthen the impact of learning. It was so impressive.

At break times as I observed, students were using their mobile phones consciously. At break, they just looked at their mobile phones to see if there were new calls or not. During the lessons, if the teachers directed them to use a website, a portal, or go to an assessment link, they just went to that page, did their activities and put their mobile phones aside. They didn’t seem that they were mobile phone addicts or they were keen on social media. They didn’t have any tendency to play video games on their mobile phones at break. The negative effects of technology were transformed into a positive one. They only used the technology so as to do some research as I noticed.

At noon, we had our lunch. Our coordinator country showed sensitivity to our Islamic affiliations. They were so respectful. They didn’t serve any pork or any ham during our stay in Lithuania. We were delighted in it. The meals were delicious and tasty. We ate fish, salad, rice, pasta, potatoes, fruit and so on. In the afternoon, we went to the museum. The school bus took us there. In the museum, we saw old washing machines, lawn mowers, and meat grinders. There was also a part where dolls were exhibited. They were made of lime and plaster. They were painted and dressed up in a decorative way. They were very elaborate. In another room, we had a workshop. There was a mentor. She taught us how to make book marks or bracelets by using some leather pieces and some leather corps. We had some handcraft and had a product at the end of the day as a gift. We went to school then went to our hotel. In the evening, altogether we had dinner with our coordinator. We chatted and knew each other better; we talked about the teachers’ standards and rights in all countries. At this time, our students had a welcoming party in the school building with their new friends and with some monitoring teachers.

On the second day, we met in the school hall as teachers and students. First of all, we watched the film, “Devil’s Bride” which was adapted from the book, “Whitehorn’s Windmill”. It was a musical. We understood the events more vividly after watching it. It really helped us visualize the events better. Contrary to the ending in the book, it had a happy ending. We decided that since Soviet Union tried to manipulate people and wanted them to believe that everything was perfect in their period, they shot such a film. That is, they ended the film happily. Later, we watched a presentation about the historical background of the period when it was written and we got some information about the author. After that, students started writing a letter to the author expressing their ideas about the book and their emotions and feeling towards it. Meanwhile, we, teachers went to another room to discuss about the program and mobility in Spain. We had a lunch later. We visited a pre-gymnasium and a kindergarten. After our visit, we learned that Erasmus projects are prevalent in Lithuanian schools, so most of them are experienced and they gain international reputations thanks to these studies. The more they do Erasmus projects, the more international reputations, they gain. When I visited the kindergarten, I was bewildered. It was a state nursery school but it had all kinds of facilities inside such as swimming pool, sand chamber and meditation rooms. The families pay only 70 Euro per month. It is quite cheap. Later, we went back to the school. All the schools made presentations about their own schools, cities and their countries.

On Wednesday, very early in the morning, we set off and went to the capital city, Vilnius. On the way, we did our studies about the book, “Vilnius, Wilno, Vilna”. We had a tour guide. We visited the Old Town of Vilnius, we went up the stairs and visited Gediminas Castle, we saw a cathedral, we discovered Martynas Mazvydas National Library of Lithuania. We visited the archive part. We learned how they repaired the old books to maintain them as new as they could.

On Thursday, we met in the conference hall. Students wrote comics and acted out in groups. After the lunch, all of us went to Plateliai. We visited the Cold War Museum. We saw the former underground missile base. Later, we visited Telsiai. We attended cheese tasting workshop in Cheese “Dziugas” House. We learned the legend behind this tasty cheese. Once upon a time, there used to be a giant here. It was called as Dziugas. It was a good hearted man. He used to help people all the time. One day he fell in love with a farmer’s house. He married her. According to the customs, a newly married couple tried to make the hardest cheese in order to lead a happy life after marriage. They did this cheese. Later, the giant’s wife became ill and she died. He was so unhappy. He cried a lot and a lake was formed there. When the giant also died, they buried him near his wife. It was like a hill over there. The story behind this delicious cheese was this.

On Friday, all homogenous groups with their teachers chose a book reflecting a part of their history and showing the struggle the characters gave in order to handle with these situations. They created the first page of a newspaper related to the book they read. All the participants took their certificates with a ceremony. All of us attended a workshop called as “A Path of Bread on our Tables”. We made bread and baked it. Meanwhile, we danced with the live band. We played games. It was so enjoyable and unforgettable for all of us.

Feedback from participants

A feedback by Meda and Delfina, Lithuania

Erasmus + is an exchange project. During this project we’ve got a lot of new experience. We had guests from Spain, Turkey and Latvia. First day was little bit awkward, because we didin’t knew each other, it was akward to communicate with new friends but after few hours it became better. We had a few trips. The first trip was to the capital of Lithuania. In Vilnius we have visited the castle of Gediminas, the old town and then we had some free time. The second trip – to Telšiai. There we had visited museum called “Alka of Samogitian History” and went to “Džiugas” cheese house, in wich we were tasting a lot of different types of cheese. The third trip was to Plateliai, we visited “The cold war” museum. The fourth trip was to Urvikiai, we had a theatralised and entertaining workshop called “A Path of Bread on your tables”. Of course we had a lot if activities in school. We spent a great time during this exchange with guests from Spain, Turkey and Latvia. It was unforgettable, new experience. Also we had developed our English language skills so much, it helped to be brave and we aren’t afraid to talk with in foreign language anymore. But in another hand we got little bit tired during that week because we had to be in school from 9 a.m to 3-4 p.m or we had all day trips. But the new experience gave us more benefits and it was worth to work hard that week. We really enjoyed this project.

Thoughts about the project week in Lithuania by Rugile and Aiste.

As hosts, we had an important work to do during the week. Not only to feed, care, give all the needs, make sure that our guests from Spain are having a good time in Lithuania, but also to know how countries can be different using the help from books. At first, it wasn’t easy to do it. There were some struggles related with English fluency and culture difference. But that’s okay, remember that we are from different countries! We and guests from Spain, Latvia, Turkey analyzed a Lithuanian book – Whitehorn’s Windmill and with that we got to know what values are given by Lithuanian books like love, religion, family, truth and justice. Our problems were solved with communication when we started working together and making conversations with students from other countries for example we loved excursions to Vilnius, Plateliai, Urvikiai, because that were awesome opportunities not only to know about Lithuania, but get closer. So in conclusion this project gave us priceless experience. We learned to communicate with other nationality people and how to deal with different religion. Also we and our Lithuanian families improved English skills. And last but not least we are happy to have new friends and connections around the world.

A feedback by Gabriele, Lithuania

Erasmus+ project “reawakening the values” Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport. It runs for seven years, from 2014 to 2020, with organisations invited to apply for funding each year for life-changing activities. Its’ aims is to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe. It is open to education, training, youth and sport organisations across all sectors of lifelong learning, including school education, further and higher education, adult education and the youth sector. In 2020 year in Mažeikiai Merkelis Račkauskas gimnazium we had erasmus+ project. Our accomplices was Latvia, Turkey and Spain. All the activieties started in 20th January. In that day we spent a lot of time at our gimnazium, so we spent lots of time with our guests. As I ecpected our whole company was so friendly and easy going so at the evening “ice-braking” party was not that awkward. On the21st January we started with mornin cycle, we shared the experience of the previous day. After that we watched a film named “the Devil’s briden” based on Kazys Boruta book“whitehorn windmill”. Next we visited “Bitutė” kindergarten and Venta primary school. When we came back to Mažeikiai Merkelis Račkauskas gimnazium all of the countrys, including Lithuania, were presenting theyr own country, curriculum and traditions. After all activities we had free time, so guests from Latvia and some of lithuanians went to virtual reality classes and spent brilliant time together. On wednesday we all traveled to Vilnius. We walked through Vilnius old town, visited Gediminas castle and Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania. That day I liked the most, because I haven’t been in these places before. Friday was the last day with our friends. We went to “the path of bread” in Ukrinai. There we danced samogitian dances, sang songs, played games and even baked bread. After all activities in Ukrinai we came back to gimnazium and accompanied out guest to their way home. That week with guests was really fun, active, interesting and it was easy to comunicate with everyone. Projects like this includes us in new bonds between stundent from other countries, it also gives us a lot of information about other countries, their traditions, literature, culture and other values.

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