ANOTHER ADVENTURE WITH ERASMUS+ – THE „BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE” PROJECT IN CROATIA
On Monday, April 24, the exchange in Croatia officially began. The first activity scheduled in the program was the welcoming of all the participants by the main coordinator of Erasmus+ projects, Mr. Krunoslav Vukelić. After his short speech, the individual groups had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the other participants. The hosts prepared a small gift for everyone, which was very nice of them. In addition, a surprise performance by the school choir was given. Thanks to this we had the opportunity to get acquainted with Croatian music. Contact with local culture is undoubtedly one of the best aspects of an exchange. After the official part was over, we went on a guided walking tour of the city. To our surprise, Valpovo, despite its small size and inclement weather, charmed us with its intimate atmosphere and tranquility. We ended our short tour in the park where we had lunch. Getting to know each other beforehand turned out to be important, because during the meal we talked freely with many of the exchange participants. The last item on Monday’s program was the presentations about the country we came from. Each team did its best to make its presentation interesting to the audience. Additional motivation was boosted by the quizzes prepared by the speakers to verify the knowledge gained.
On Tuesday we met at the school at 9:00 a.m. to start the next day of the exchange program. First we had the opportunity to learn some interesting and useful information about solar panels, such as their types, purposes, and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of panel. After the presentation we had free time to drink some tea or coffee and taste some traditional Croatian delicacies.
After this short break, the real adventure began. We spent the whole day in the natural reserve „Papuk”. We walked along the lake with beautiful turquoise water, and in the meantime the guide told us about the establishment of the park and the rare species of plants and animals found in the reserve. We also had the pleasure of seeing a magnificent waterfall, through which the hiking trail ran. Interestingly, this beautiful natural wonder changes its position as years go by. Thus, in 100 years it will be moved to another location. After the exhausting hike, we went for lunch at the restaurant in the reserve.
The last point that day was the Geoinfo Center where we had the opportunity to watch the movie in the 7D theater about the origin of the world and the developing life over the years. Also we walked around the museum section where we could see everything that was in the film with our own eyes.
We started our trip to the city of Osijek early in the morning. Our first destination was the waste treatment plant „Unikom”. The employee told us how waste is disposed of, but also introduced us to what recycling is all about. Then we went to the nature reserve „Kopački Rit”. There we had the opportunity to take a short trip on the charming train, and then went on a ferry cruise on the local reservoir, during which we admired the magnificent nature, almost untouched by the hand of man. During the cruise, the guide also introduced us to the history of the reserve and the species of plants and animals found there. The next point of our trip was the center of Osijek. After the meal break, we met our guide at the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, where he told us about its history and then we set off for a walk through the city, listening about its history. We reached the Drava River and, wandering along the boulevards, found ourselves in the vicinity of the fortress, where we happened to come across the movie set. There we said goodbye to the guide and our tour was over.
On the fourth day at 9:00 a.m., the practical classes in biology began. Under the watchful eye of the biology teacher, the students of the Valpovo school presented the principles of working with a microscope and the water samples we were to take from Poland. We were asked to examine the water from the river and from the tap and then create a poster showing the eight test tubes we had examined, with a note about where they had been taken from and what organisms we had detected. We worked in groups, so we divided the tasks so that everyone could try their hand at preparing the microscope slides and observing the organisms. We were surprised when it turned out that more microorganisms had been found by us in a sample of the tap water, not the river one.
After a 30-minute break for coffee or tea, which was another opportunity for some integration and interesting conversations, it was time for a small dose of competition – a math competition! 5 people from each country formed a team to navigate through the stations including the different departments of the queen of science. For the winner there was a mysterious box filled with the sweets, which we received, having a huge time advantage. After lunch it was time for the presentations of national dishes. The method of preparing Russian dumplings was presented by Bartek Flis, and the Romanian group from Vaslui additionally gifted everyone with the sweets and Kozunak, a sweet yeast cake baked by the grandmother of one of the participants. Another task required making a terrarium in mixed national groups. Through the fun and precision of the task, we were able to get to know each other better and integrate. The last item was working in a computer program on the poster that was to be about Earth Day. We then met a member of the local music band, Matko Varzic, with whom we spent time after school. We must admit that this acquaintance was really valuable. And in this way the penultimate day of our adventure ended at 7:00 pm.
Friday, April 28 was the last day of our classes. At 9 a.m. we began a two-hour workshop 'Making something out of nothing’ during which we created the items from the used packaging, bottles, jars and cardboard boxes. The Polish group was tasked with creating piggy banks out of the pig-shaped bottles. Working on this project was a very enjoyable task, during which we could demonstrate our creativity and ingenuity. After the workshop, we had a half-hour break, during which everyone could have a cup of coffee or tea and treat themselves to the pancake. After a short rest, it was time for the presentations of the projects we had prepared. We had to present our poster, microscope observations, terrariums in the jars and piggy banks. After finishing the presentations it was time to hand out the certificates and officially end the exchange. Each participant and coordinator received the certificate of participation in the project. After taking the photo there was time for a several-hour break, during which everyone returned home to eat dinner and pack, and at 5:30 p.m. we met again in Belišće for the Zumba Party. During this party, you could dance along with the zumba instructor who had prepared a surprise for each country – the choreography to the Polish, Turkish and Romanian song! After the zumba part, the participants gathered together to dance Croatian, Turkish and Romanian national dances. In the meantime, there were also refreshments prepared for us, and at the very end the delicious cake was served. Around 8 pm the last day of the 'Before It’s Too Late’ project came to an end.