Erasmus+ is the European Union (EU) programme for education, training, youth and sport. SIS has been an enthusiastic participant for a number of years, seeing the programme as a natural fit with its Mission to cultivate an international mindset and a respectful and reflective attitude in our students, and encourage them to make a positive impact in the world.
Normally, part of the strength of Erasmus+ is the opportunity it offers for students to travel to other countries, experience other lifestyles, economic standards, and cultural norms. During the Covid-19 restrictions this has proved impossible, but now, a return to the previous way of operating is on the horizon.
For the recent Erasmus+ gathering at SIS though, things were once again virtual, but that didn’t stop productive and energetic sessions taking place around the theme of ‘Save the Earth’. Part of the goal of Erasmus+ is to encourage students to explore how they can change the world through their daily life, and this year’s theme provided plenty of topics for them to examine. Using the UN Sustainability Goals as a reference, students looked at issues such as clean energy, biodiversity, and threats to life on land and in our oceans.
Erasmus+ co-ordinators Anneli Thompson (MYP Drama) and Andrew Ioannou (MYP Design) met and worked with the students on project work despite not being able to travel. They organised digital Google calls to meet team Greece and Germany for example, to build relationships between the students. The students worked through the issues, exchanged ideas, formulated action plans, and documented their conclusions in posters and other materials.
Juliette Darrigade is a Grade 9 student who joined the Erasmus+ programme this year. What did she get out of it? ‘I found the topics really interesting, and I also really enjoyed talking with the students in other countries. I became aware of how we had to do some things differently. When I did my research, I was able to easily access the internet, but students in some of the other countries didn’t have the same facilities and had to use other research methods.’ Juliette was also inspired by some of the speakers: ‘It was good to learn about some of the practical things we can do – at our level – to make positive choices around sustainability in our everyday lives. For example, veganism and how the way our food chain is set up economically influences our choices and impacts the planet.’
Juliette is confident she will do Erasmus+ next year. ‘It’s a great opportunity to learn about our planet and other people. And with the possibility of travel and exchange visits I’m really looking forward to it.’
Six schools from six countries took part in the online sessions. SIS students often stand out among participating schools because of our international makeup. Erasmus+ co-ordinator Anneli Thompson (MYP Drama) explains: ‘SIS represents Sweden, but our students are usually drawn from a variety of nationalities, while other schools are usually of the same nationality in the country they are based. As a result, SIS students see a different perspective, and come to appreciate how schools and social institutions outside of Sweden do not all enjoy the same standard of living and educational support that we have here. For example, in some schools, not every student has their own laptop, and the group uses the teacher’s PC communally.’
Her fellow co-ordinator Andrew Ioannou (MYP Design) sees a an exciting future ahead for the programme: ‘The easing of travel restrictions will allow the Erasmus+ programme to once again offer the opportunity to physically visit partner schools, sharing the school space, living with host families, and experiencing the everyday rhythms of life in another country and culture. Trips to Greece and the Netherlands are on the horizon and they will offer stimulating opportunities to make new friendships and enrich students’ appreciation of the world and of life as global citizens.’
In the spring of 2023, SIS hopes to host the other teams as a closing mobility of the 2-year project here in Stockholm, and will be seeking host families to accommodate the students.
There’s more about Erasmus+ here. Look out for news of future trips here and in our other channels.