We have all now arrived safely at Ballens Strandcamping. It was pretty exciting for the students to be on the bus (most students sat of course in the back of the bus). Our organizers for this trip – Emma and Ebba – gave the students a brochure about sustainability, with focus of energy production. After a short while to cram all the info in, a lively quiz was held. The students studied hard and did great during the quiz. There were healthy snacks distributed as prizes. We had some time in Kallunborg before the ferry, so three adults took most of the kids to a small shopping area, because some needed to get to a bank machine and get some money out. As well, some students just wanted to buy things that only should be eaten during the weekends… One of us guarded the bags back at the ferry terminal.
The trip on the ferry where nice and comfortable, with a beautiful view and some first attempts at reading and speaking Danish for many. Some students felt hungry and ordered pizza! Others played cards or took photos on the top deck. Of course, a few young actors jumped on a chance to sing the lead song from Titanic and pose at the front of the ferry near the ’Selfie Spot.’ It was very fun to watch the show.
Once we reached Samsö, we were welcomed by our guide and his wife. After a quick greeting, he said he looked forward to seeing us tomorrow. Directly afterwards in the harbour, we picked up our bicycles. After going over and clarifying the rules, we all got on our own bikes and hit the road to start taking in the beautiful landscape of Samsö. Ms. Englund got so happy and inspired that she was singing loudly in the back of the caravan of bicycles. Not everybody was happy about the singing. Maybe Ms. Englund will get another chance to have a bicycling concert for those of the kids riding in the back tomorrow morning? Ms. Sundin heard one student saying that he would want to buy a house on this gorgeous island. No kidding! He was advised to start saving and to follow this dream. At the beachside campground, everyone seems happy. We have had a lasagna dinner, and we had to remind some to clean up after themselves. We four adults sat and watched the students run and run and run and explore all the cabins where we are lined up in a cosy row. Even with taking seconds and thirds and being non-stop active, there still seemed to be leftover lasagna, salad, and nice Danish bread. Full tummies, beach breezes and free-range happy students. What a dream for teachers to see students outside, mostly screen-free, and chirping away like the birds all around us! Emma and Ebba have brought tonnes of healthy snacks with them and really good natural juices to keep everyone energized. They are very thoughtful organizers.
Now, some students are petting the camping rabbits and feeding the crowd-pleasing goats with the leftover salad. To the goats, to the beach, around the playground and from cabin to cabin, most of the students are sprinting around like they never been in the nature before. The ocean waters are beautiful shades of blue and we are just 50 m from the lapping waves and sea breezes. Ahhh, what freedom they feel and they have told us many times already. Of course, some just take the opportunity to chill and talk to each other. Our camp manager walked by us teachers and winked and said that on the first night, students always run around similarly so non-stop as they get acquainted with their new digs. At 10 p.m., the campground rules are that everyone should be in their own cabins and at 11 p.m. campground rules are that it should be completely quiet
Tomorrow, we have an early start with breakfast at 07.30. We need to be on our bikes at 08.30. Wednesday’s adventures start with a visit to the Energiakademiet. They will teach us a lot of wind power and help us to create our own mobile chargers! Ms Sundin is especially pumped for now as she is borrowing a phone charger from a very well-organized and well-packed student, who might have discovered his entrepreneurial side and might start renting it out tomorrow.
We hope that we will have a nice and quiet night ahead of us. With all the fresh air and good food the students have had on their new island abode, no doubt there will be some good sleep on the agenda tonight. One student just offered us an Earl Grey teabag so we are now going to make us some nice tea.
After a nice breakfast at the camping we took our bikes to Energiakademiet, which lies about 1,5 kilometer from the camping site.This is the first day of two where we are going to work hard with trying to understand Danish and to be the best ambassadors for IES Lund. Unfortunately, some students were very tired due to late night activities which they needed to call and tell their guardians about later in the afternoon.
Over at Energiakademiet, we had a creative and interesting day building solar cell phone chargers and race cars á lá Solracet in Malmö that some of our students participated in last year. They had the edge in yesterday’s competition). The small centre attracts a lot of guests from all over the world and our students were welcomed with many other international guests yesterday. We don’t know how they’ll cope not being VIP when they get back to Skåne. As expected, our students did really well. The University students that were tutoring our students had to have 4 hours to build their mobile charger, our first group didi it in 2 hours and broke fewer of the delicate solar cells in the process. They always seem to come with their game and ready to play. It was fun to watch that alongside other educators from South Africa, the US, and other parts of Denmark who we all met in a really fun warm welcome in a giant circle.
We also had a small glimpse the diplomatic world and some protocols when the Israeli ambassador in Denmark came by to visit the centre and learn more about their work with sustainable energy.. He was accompanied by two security guards and Samsö’s only policeman! Take a look at their website if you are interested about their work.
In the evening, we had a fully catered BBQ ready for us by all of our hosts. Even the American professor, her family, and all her students joined in. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. One thing that was so fascinating to watch was the meeting between our students and two classes from Samsö that came to the camping for an evening barbecue. Do you remember what is was like in that age to meet other students from another country? When they first arrived and everyone grouped with their own classmates, we looked upon a group of youngsters who looked a bit like deer caught in the headlights. Picture yourself how it feels to feel embarrassed, curious and awkward at the same time. (Of course, our students will probably not agree with us after how well they bonded by the end of the night). Our Danish host, Jerker, was really good in his dealings with young people and introducing international cooperation by mixing the Danes (who were his wife’s German modern language students) and the Swedes at the dinner table. After our barbecue dinner, the conversation was loud and animated and we saw again and again that our students threw themselves into conversations with the Danish students, in ”swedanlish”. Wonderful to see and hear and interesting to note that by the end of the night there was a lot of English being spoken in the two groups. A trilingual adventure in Ballen!
Tomorrow morning we are heading to Brundby-Ballen fjernvarme and we are going to visit a farm with cows and learn more about wind power and sustainability. With all the fresh air, lush vegetables and food, sea breezes and intense hands-on learning, we may have to drag our students back on to the ferry at 17:30. Right now, it’s 7:35 a.m. and the cottages are completely silent. The sun is out, breakfast is served at 8 and we need to pack and clean up before then.
Reporting live from Samsö: Ms. Englund and Ms. Sundin (who can’t get enough of the strawberries here. One perk of the job, in addition to meeting amazing pedagogs, is definitely having an outdoor classroom with access to the amazing fruit and veg bounty of Samsö. We may not get on the ferry.
Good night from the beautiful island of Samsö!
Ms. Englund & Ms. Sundin, along with Emma and Ebba