22 Years of Internationalism
with the International Science Seminar (ISS)
“I remember somebody telling me that I wouldn’t understand the opportunity this trip provides until I had actually been on the trip myself, and it’s true!” (comment made by student on this trip - all subsequent quotes are taken directly from pupils on this trip).
As a member of Round Square, AKS prides itself on aligning its own values with the values of Round Square ; internationalism is one of the key IDEALS of Round Square. To understand why internationalism is so valuable, we only need to look at our 22-year, tri-nation, science partnership with the Siebold Gymnasium in Würzburg, Germany and the Gymnázium Boženy Nĕmcové in Hradec Králové, in The Czech Republic. This year, the British and Czechs were hosted by the Siebold Gymnasium and upon meeting them at the train station, we were made to feel at home straight away. As well as the science aspect of the trip, this was also an excellent opportunity for our pupils to integrate themselves into a German family and practise their German.
“The second I arrived, I was greeted with a hug and made to feel instantly more welcome than I had anticipated”
“The host families were all so welcoming and kind, and made us feel at home”
We spent the first three days of the trip at school, where we experienced the daily routines of German pupils, as well as working with our German and Czech counterparts on the science seminar. This year the seminar focused on Robotics, which challenged the pupils to develop their skills in basic programming of robots, beginning with simple movements and advancing to using light and touch sensors to trigger far more complex operations. The pupils had to use their creativity and understanding of forces to create ‘sumo’ robots, capable of fighting other robots, whilst being able to keep their own robots within the ‘sumo’ ring.
“The theme of the trip was robotics, which is something I enjoyed, because I really liked the programming and building of the robots”
Our host teachers, Herr Mantel and Herr Völker, had also planned social activities each day so that the pupils could get to know each other even better - for example, we went bouldering, had a sports afternoon and took part in tree top climbing. In addition, as with the ‘overriding reasons for doing this trip’, some of the activities also pushed pupils out of their comfort zones.
“I have learnt more German than in 3 months of German lessons, sorry miss”
“My favourite parts of the trip were when we went bouldering and to the Kletterwald, as I have a fear of heights - this really helped to boost my self-confidence and conquer my fears.”
Amongst the long list of amazing experiences, were a guided tour of Würzburg. Herr Mais, a history and English teacher at the Siebold Gymnasium, eloquently spoke of the way that Germans, through their monuments, had recognised and changed their perception of conflict over the centuries. Lukas, a German ISS student also spoke about the history of religion in Germany. Many of our pupils also visited the beautiful and impressive Würzburger Residenz and the imposing Marienberg Fortress of Würzburg. The Residenz includes interiors considered masterworks of Baroque/Rococo style and some wonderful Neoclassical architecture.
On Saturday we visited the German city of Gießen, which is renowned for its maths museum the Mathematikum. Although, this may not sound particularly riveting, all of our pupils agreed that this was an excellent trip with many aspects of mathematics explained in a simple, fun ‘hands-on’ manner. After lunch, the pupils had the opportunity to take on the ‘Stadtrallye’ challenge, learning a little about Gießen, whilst competing in their trinational teams against each other.
In our final presentations, the pupils discussed their opinions and impressions about the seminar. This was also a wonderful opportunity to recognise those who had organised the week. We presented a commemorative plate to Norbert Mantel from Julian Wilde, the founder of our partnership, recognising Norbert’s 10-year contribution to the seminar.
The science activities and the excursions represent only part of the benefits of taking part in this trip, as the home-hosting experience is positively life-changing. The best way to summarise the reasons for taking part is to read the student feedback...
“It may seem nerve-wracking at first, going abroad, staying in someone’s house, and speaking a language, which isn’t your own, but I know I will always remember it, no matter what age I get to.”
“This trip pushes you out of your comfort zone, but it is easy to make friends and by the end of the week you don’t want to leave.”
“From the trip, I have made firm friends for life, all completely different. It’s interesting to learn about different cultures, but it’s even better to know how similar we all really are.”
“I found speaking to different people an experience I was lucky to have.”
“This trip pushed me to do things I would otherwise refuse to do, and surprisingly, I enjoyed them. Learning things outside of my usual interests can actually be beneficial and fun and was something I definitely needed.”
“It was so interesting learning about the differences in our cultures and I have come back with a broadened view of Europe and would highly recommend this trip to other pupils.”
“I couldn’t recommend this trip enough because of the amazing time I had.”