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Intercultural Learning in an Alternative School
Start date: Sep 5, 2016, End date: Jul 4, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Freiraumschule Kritzendorf is an alternative school initiated and financed by parents and based on the concepts developed byRebeca and Mauricio Wild and the pedagogy of Maria Montessori. It takes the legal form of an association (nonprofit) and has publicstatus. The school is situated on the edge of the forest, near the Danube and not far from Austria's capital Vienny (15 min per train).At present, 50 children aged from 6 to 15 years attend the school. Prepared environment, Montessori materials and intensivesupport by six teachers allow for open and self-determined learning processes in multi-age classrooms. The curriculum includesintercultural learning and the learning of foreign languages. With opening hours from 8 am to 4 pm the school also offers day carefor the children. Leisure activities are in line with the philosophy of the school. For some activities the children are separated inprimary and secondary but most of the time they learn or work together.With the EVS project we intend to expand the activities of our school and day care by a European dimension through intercultural learning. The main motivation to host international volunteers is to promote the tolerance between different cultures and traditions, to encourage young people to learn about cultural distinctions, to develop the understanding to be European and to deal criticallywith nationalism. All parties involved benefit from the EVS project; volunteers as well as pupils are involved in this learning process. Teachers and school parents participate in the daily experiences with the project.Since 2001 our school has hosted volunteers (one each year) from different countries like France, Belguim, Spain, Hungary, Turkey and Italy. Concerning age and gender of the volunteer we don't have any preferences.The volunteer should bring interest and competencies in working with children so that they will be treated with respect and as self-reliant personalities. The volunteer should be prepared to react to the curiosity and creativity of the children rather that confront them with a ready-made programme. Knowledge of and experience with alternative educational concepts may be of advantage but are not a must. The volunteer should be interested in sharing his or her cultural knowledge and mother tongue (teaching experience is not required). The knowledge of German is not required, on the contrary, we ask the volunteer to talk to the children in his or her mother tongue even if the children understand very little in the beginning. For such an approach selfconfidence and communicative sensitivity are important. In general, Freiraumschule Kritzendorf is looking for volunteers who love to spend time with children and teenagers, who support them in their activities and and who have something to offer to them from their own culture. This can be in the area of music, dance, theatre, poetry, sports, cooking, handicrafts, photography, painting, astronomy, film, or any other area he or she thinks is appropriate.The volunteer should try to arouse interest in his or her language and culture in the children. This happens when the volunteer is present and available for the children. The volunteer communicates with the children in his or her mother tongue and phrases and dialogues of everyday life repeat which strongly supports the learning process. In this way the children have the chance to get a playful and at the same time lasting access to a foreign language. In the morning the volunteer supports either the children in their activities (learning with learning material) or the teachers who offer activities regarding their own culture. After an induction phase the volunteer has the chance to offer his or her own activities or projects according to his or her own interests and skills. The volunteer can also participate in the weekly school trips (museum, theatre, cultural events, sports, hiking, climbing etc.).We envisage to promote the principle of tolerance towards other cultures, raise the awareness on respectful social interaction and respectful treatment of the environment and contribute to the distribution of alternative approaches in the education sector.

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