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let's keep in touch with our friends in Athlone
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

It is now six years since we submitted our first application for a Leonardo project. Two years later, we received authorization to open the European option in English for our Vocational High School for approximately thirty two students from our two sections put together : 1st year baccalaureate (Customer Relations and Services) and GA (Administration and Management). Students who choose this option (about 15) and show some motivation are prioritized for spending a period of one month in Athlone, the Irish city twinned with Chateaubriant. Candidates must feel that this opportunity is given to them as a result of their hard work. We have set the following objectives: • Improving young people’s knowledge and culture and giving them the chance to travel outside their own environment. • Give everyone a chance to discover a new country, a new culture, to experience being a foreigner, to get to know other people. • Make the connection between the different areas of the European Union where a regional language persists and where the Celtic culture is to be found. • Improving the professional skills of students and their CV. • Increasing the student’s level of interest and knowledge in English. • Develop the student’s professional approach and behavior. • Promote Châteaubriant, a town of 12,000 inhabitants, and its surrounding area and partners. •Spread open-mindedness towards Europe in the Châteaubriant area. Students in Year 11 (first year of the course) are still too young and students in Year 13 ( third year of the course) are too busy with their final examinations . For this reason we stick to Year 12 students (second year of course). Until now the six European grants provided from the twelve requested have allowed nine or ten students to have a period of work experience in Ireland in June. We stick to just this destination for the moment because we do not want to increase the travel for the accompanying staff and as a result the money saved on the organiser’s ‘post’ is used to finance additional travel. Ireland particularly interests us because of our common currency, the euro, this facilitates the keeping of accounts for ourselves and for our students and it avoids exchange rate costs. In addition, our relationship with the twinning committee guarantees us safety in our dealings with our various Irish partners and this also shows the young people from Chateaubriant that it can be worthwhile to support local associations. . Our candidates are made aware of this travel project when they sign up for the first year of ( Customer Relations and Services) and also during the European option offered by an English teacher, Mrs Walton (native speaker) and the teacher of non linguistic English communication , Ms. Miles . These students begin primarily oral focused work (filmed play roles, work on films, presentations, work related situations particularly after their previous work placements). Ms Jamet works along with these two teachers doing the English teaching of both the Customer Relations and Services and the Administration and Management groups. We will continue the Gaelic football sessions with the Year 12 (second year) vocational course students. We aim to highlight the Celtic culture and the importance of the place of regional languages : Gaelic in Ireland, Breton in Brittany ... this is why we chose to introduce courses in Gaelic and also a step dancing session at Shannon Academy during the first days in Athlone. We have a contact, a secretary of the twinning committee in Athlone, who gives these classes in an association. It is these informal contacts that also provide the opportunity to discuss the reasons for the young people being in Athlone; it’s a great way to talk about the project outside the work experience environment. It is by increasing our contacts in the area that we will get ourselves better known. Dancing and singing can also be ways of discussing a culture while relaxing. We use the most modern means of communication to share our experiences: the school website our blog, the local press and in the near future Pulseo, the local TV station where one of our former pupils uses his skills as presenter. We also organize an educational visit to Brussels for all Year 12 vocational baccalaureate students, Including Erasmus + candidates, with the aim of letting them better understand the role and workings of the European institutions. Teachers in history and geography, applied arts and French are also involved in this trip. For us, this educational visit which we fund ourselves is part of the preparation for the trip. The long-term aim of our project is to strengthen the relations between Athlone and Chateaubriant and to make the young people more mobile, self- reliant and open-minded. We also think about a new destination in Belgium for our students feeling unconfortable in a foreign language but willing to add the mention "mobility" on their diploma.

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