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SAUMUROIS AUJOURD'HUI, EUROPEENS DEMAIN
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Situation and Aim Here in Saumur, the professionals regularly notice that young trainees do not have enough linguistic and cultural knowledge to be able to be compatible with the local job market. That is why Les Ardilliers vocational school has wished to offer the pupils in last year of vocational studies to go and have both a professional and cultural one-month placement in Ireland. The 7 trainees for our first project were all volunteers and had trained for 2 years at school before leaving. Participants This one-month training period from April 18th to May 13th 2016 in Dublin, Ireland aimed at making our students more open to the Irish culture, at strengthening their language-learning skills and at analysing different working methods and ways of lives in order to find work more easily. Four students were preparing for a B-Tech in sales, two students for a B-Tech in administration and one student for a B-Tech in trade. Activities During their work placement, our students could do varied professional tasks (receipt of goods, stock management, customer greeting – both Irish and international costumers - , put on display, administrative tasks …). What stroke them most were the relax relationships within the companies in comparison with the strictness of the rules. They could also enjoy cultural discoveries in Dublin (the City Centre, the bay and Malahide Castle …) and a new life style in families (new schedules, new customs, life in pubs, spicy cooking …). We wanted them to be the only French native speakers in families so that they could improve their English for one month. Dublin welcomes international students so our pupils could exchange with them too. In shops, our trainees could give pieces of advice to Irish customers as well as to international ones, following the Irish way of greeting customers. Thus they had the opportunity to compare the different customers’ approaches. This project was divided into several steps: an intensive preparation step which lasted two years, an achievement step which included not only professional activities but also cultural discoveries throughout the city and in families for one month and an assessment step for which educational teaching grids were used (the European mobility grid, the school professional assessment, the CEI’s grid and finally the Europass Mobility grid). As soon as they arrived in France, each student had to fill in his self-assessment Europass Language Passport. One year before the team had tried to put the professionals in relation with the elected representatives by making a film « Happy Saumur », which was presenting the Saumur economic and cultural communities. Some students have filmed their stay in Dublin in order to immortalize their experience. This film will be shown next November during the meeting gathering our sponsors (local firms, the Saumur city council). Our partners will be glad to meet our young ambassadors again. Results and Impact These young people left to Ireland apprehensively but with preparation and good will, they have won their bets. They have succeeded in acquiring better linguistic knowledge (the marks obtained in the continuing self-assessment in English have proved it in terms of vocabulary as well as in their fluency), in acquiring a wider open-mindedness. The teaching team has noticed that the pupils had gained maturity, self-confidence and had acquired a certain presence during their oral entrance tests in order to follow their studies on a regional level. They got used to their new lives and confessed to have appreciated working with an Irish team that they did not know anything about before - which was an unthinkable element before their departure. This experience could show that Ireland is the ideal country to welcome young people and to hand down kindness. Our students now feel more and more European, more concerned when meeting English speaking people. Indeed, they can feel a certain pride in sharing their Irish experience. As a conclusion, we can assert that this project has answered our starting issues : it has made it possible to improve the welcoming of foreign people at a local level, the pupils have increased their cultural and linguistic knowledge. In brief, it has developed a certain European unity. Our youngsters even shared the Irish history. For instance, they wore the uniforms and carried the guns for the commemoration of Easter Rising (1916-2016). They really integrated the Irish way of life within their host families. Waiting for the last year of B-Tech National to leave was certainly a good decision in terms of self-confidence, maturity, autonomy... The pupils really had the feeling that all the partners had confidence in them, particularly when they were left by themselves for a fortnight.

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