This INTERREG-project has its origin at the Radboud University in Nijmegen (NL) and at the University Duisburg-Essen (DE) where the staff members organize exchanges between high schools in the border region of the Netherlands and Germany. The project is an initiative to raise awareness of the border region in general and the neighboring languages German and Dutch. Both languages are important to each other, because the cooperation between the countries (in regard to especially trade) is very close. Through more cooperation between the two countries this can be improved, and therefore it is important to raise awareness under pupils at high schools, because these children are the future of our countries.
We, Celine and Hanneke, two Dutch volunteers, find this project very interesting and we want to contribute to this opportunity to gather more attention for this efficient project. Although we’ve only been volunteering at the project for a few weeks, we already had our first exchange experience. This exchange was in Kranenburg (DE), just a few kilometers across the German border, and was together with a school from Nijmegen (NL). As we had little to no experience with guiding these young pupils during their exchange, it was a challenge to make sure the Dutch and German pupils got to know each other and make contact with each other. Furthermore, the pupils were very kind and sweet, and we had a fun day! We learned a lot, also from the professional teachers and guides, but still we were taken very seriously by the professionals, even though we both are only 21 years old.
The pupils got different tasks throughout the day: A smuggling game, two games about how to indicate your own limits and how to trust each other. The last assignment for the pupils in binational groups was to make a small movie about their experience of the day. Here we saw that the groups were very committed to this assignment and tried to communicate with each other in the binational groups. When they couldn’t communicate in either Dutch or German, they tried to make a mixed language or they switched to English. Overall, it was an outstanding event for us, and we are looking forward to the next exchanges in which we are going to participate again. In the meantime we are busy with our own projects, making workshops and surveys to support the INTERREG-project “Nachbarsprache & buurcultuur”.