Pupil Exchange Programs
We strive for a regular, project-related pupil exchange with partner schools in European countries. This takes place through various communication levels such as
- pen pals,
- E-mail contacts,
- Internet discussions/chats, and
- Personal contacts, including - after appropriate preparation - exchange programs.
Not only the significance of the respective foreign language is taken into consideration as an exchange aspect. Certainly, foreign languages, which are taught at the respective school, are important through the encounter between the language pupil and the country where that language is spoken. But then exchanges in Europe would probably only take place between schools mostly in Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany and perhaps Italy. The lingua franca "English" is seen as a gateway to communicate. It offers the opportunity for symmetry to emerge between the pupils in exchanges, since English must be seen as a foreign language for virtually all dialogue participants.
We make sure to organize a project-oriented pupil exchange with our partner schools. Partnerships do not consist only of attendance in the classroom; the substance develops through mutual work and activities. The "Montessori Concept" of learning with the head, heart, and hand must find a place in the exchange. Accordingly, various projects have been set up in cooperation with the partners, such as
Gymnasium (Grammar School ) Prague and Bornheim in Art:
"Baroque in Prague - Expressionism and the Rhine". The pupils became familiar with works from artists and architects in Prague, analyzed the art theory, as well as the philosophic and historical approach of the Baroque Age, and copied or described Baroque paintings and sculptures. In Bornheim, the project involved studying Expressionist artists, visiting museums, and looking at the life of Painter Max Ernst, who was born in the neighboring city of Brühl. In this context, the pupils copied also one of his sculptures. The works of the pupils from Prague and Bornheim were displayed in two exhibitions (in Prague and Bornheim). Additionally, the ambassadors of both countries appeared at private viewing and a catalogue of the pupils´ work was published.
A project between Bruges (Belgium) and Bornheim in Education:
A comparison between the Begian and German school systems was attempted during this meeting of our schools. Academic goals were discussed, educational institutions in the respective cities were visited, and a pamphlet with essays from the pupils was published.
Volgograd (Russia) and Bornheim in the subject of History:
This project entailed a survey of witnesses to the battle of Stalingrad. Audio interviews and video films were recorded with veterans in Volgograd, Bornheim, Bonn, and Cologne, resulting in an impressive documentary in German and Russian.
Natural Science project between Strasbourg (France) and Bornheim:
Both cities are located on the Rhine, about 450 kilometers apart. What changes take place in the Rhine and its landscape or the water quality and what causes this? In this long-term project, pupils took ground and water samples, analyzed them, found differences and similarities, and worked scientifically together.
Madrid (Spain) and Bornheim in Environmental Protection:
As a final example, this project brought pupils and teachers from the Europe School Bornheim and our partner school in Madrid together with the goal of making a practical contribution to the area of renewable energy. Thus they planned the construction of a windmill and solar energy panel. In order to communicate in a common linguistic context, the pupils produced a glossary of specialized terminology in Spanish, German, French, and English.
During an exchange visit, pupils do not take part in the regular classes, rather are excused for the duration of the visit to the partner school and work together on the particular topic. Years of experience have shown that gaps resulting from missing regular classes are compensated quickly by the pupils, since they acquire various secondary skills: they improve or even complete their foreign language or lingua franca and develop significant self-motivation, all of which promote academic achievement. Moreover, one must consider that during a school period, a pupil participates about one to two times in this type of project; the one week of missing regular classes does not present a large burden. As past projects indicate, pupils often maintain contacts for years because they collaborated on an intensive project and reached a common goal. The results of projects with the Europe School Bornheim have been presented through expositions, publications, Internet articles, etc., and were of considerable interest to our partners.