I have 1,000 things to write about in regards to my trip to the Netherlands (I’ve been here for one week), and tonight I’m going to write about the first two days I had visiting schools and meeting students.
On Monday I went to Summa College with Noëmi to see her college campus, get a sense of what her work day looked like, and meet her excellent students.
First, let’s talk about the teachers’ lounge at Summa College Zorg & Welzijn (healthcare and wellness), where Noëmi teaches. This is what it looks like.There are two coffee machines that make espresso, cappuccino, and regular coffee; they also have hot water and a variety of tea, and cold filtered water. And it’s all free for teachers. And I have been using it a lot this week. I’ve upped my daily caffeine intake by 80%, and I’m pretty happy about that.
Next, let’s talk about Noëmi’s students, who are great. All of the students I’ve met so far have been great, and I’ll get to that a lot more later. Here’s one of Noëmi’s classes:I told her students why I was visiting and a little bit about the type of college I teach at, and my students, and they had great questions. They also, through giggles, asked me if high school in the U.S. was like high school in the movies: specifically, are there cheerleaders?
Yes, students. Yes, there are. And they look something like this:Between Noëmi’s classes, we hung out in the teacher team’s office, and I saw a book near her desk. It looked like fun, so I picked it up. And it was so much more fun than I could have ever imagined. So. Much. More. Fun. And then…I found this:
I’ll just leave that there for you to enjoy.
Noëmi drove me over to another school, School 23, where I met up with the three other American visitors and their hosts. There is a visitor from Morton College in Cicero, IL; a visitor from Casper College in Casper, Wyoming; and a visitor from Fresno City College in Fresno, California. As you might imagine, I think they’re all great and I can’t wait to tell you more about them.
Now, the school itself, while also great, kind of blew my mind. School 23 is a school for Dutch language learners to become acclimated to the Netherlands, to learn Dutch, and to learn skills that will allow them to not only function in Dutch society, but to thrive. But many of the students at School 23 are refugees who have fled from countries like Somalia, Syria, and Eritrea. These students have been traumatized; many have lost family members; some are now living in a foreign country all by themselves; and while some have excellent educational backgrounds (Syria had a robust school system until the war, and reported a 95% literacy rate), some of the students at School 23 are illiterate. These students brought an entirely new context to my understanding of “at risk” students.
Not only is School 23 serving this important population, they seem to be doing a wonderful job. The students we saw during our tour of the school were friendly and happy; they practiced their English with us (adorably and nervously), and showed tremendous pride in the work we saw them doing.We saw students working on art projects, students learning about evolution (um, yeah, a group of smarties from Syria were learning about evolution and I was really jealous and wanted to hang out with their class), and students hanging out in the reading nook (reading nook!). And everywhere in between they were just being happy teenagers, and that made me so proud of them and so thankful for the work that School 23 does.
We left School 23 happy and feeling great, and we went into our Tuesday with high expectations for the next school we were visiting: the Summa College school for hospitality training at the Eindhoven Aiport. And guess what? Our high expectations were met. We were so excited to go to a new airport — it’s always fun to go to the airport when you don’t have the stress of dragging bags around and worrying about catching your flight.
We met up with the rest of the visitors and their hosts, and were greeted by some of the students in the lobby. They brought us up to their school facilities, located on the second floor of the actual airport. The students are required to wear flight attendant-like uniforms each day to classes, and they looked official and wonderful and made me envious of their teacher for getting to teach them (their teacher is a lovely woman named Rose — hello, Rose!).
The students had prepared presentations for us about their school and their training, and we had time to ask them questions before they took us on a tour through the facilities (and guess what? they also asked us about high school cheerleaders).
Two students gave a tour to me, Noëmi, and Charles, the visitor from Wyoming. Because they were in their uniforms, they frequently got asked for help by actual patrons of the airport, and Nadia here had to help a couple of guys who were on their way to the Canary Islands load their surfboards and kayaks into the oversized luggage belt.
We hated to leave because it was all so cool and the students kept asking us excellent questions, but we needed to get back to Noëmi’s school for lunch. So we took a quick group picture… …and then we headed back to this: So, if you don’t know me that well then you might not know that I love sandwiches. Like, I love sandwiches. I’ve written about them before. And I will likely write about them again.
We ate sandwiches and soup (perfect combination, obviously) and then Noëmi took us all on a tour of her school. I’d seen her office, her classroom, the teachers’ lounge, and the restroom, but that’s about it. So I loved getting to see all of the nooks and crannies. And one of the most important nooks is this nook:And this was a pretty amazing cranny: When the tour was over and the visitors and their hosts left, Noëmi took me to her team meeting (I understood one word: Noëmi) and then I hung out in her office while she did some work. We were both tired from an excellent first couple of days at work, but looking forward to Wednesday, which was our day out at Efteling Theme Park.
I have many things to say about Efteling Theme Park, and they are all good things. But you’re going to have to wait until my next post for that. So for now, I’ll leave you with this: