How our school tries to encourage European-mindedness

Let me start to point out that our school, the Franken-Gymnasium Zülpich, has a long tradition of European-mindedness. We started an exchange with our French twin town Blaye 40 years ago , so it is now the second generation of pupils visiting Blaye and hosting their partners. Rather close to Belgium and the Netherlands, Zülpich and its inhabitants have always had close links to these countries as well, especially to our second twin town Elst in the Netherlands. The Rhineland has traditionally welcomed people from all over Europe, as traders since Roman times, as workers (many people from Poland already immigrated when industrialization started) and also as tourists, of course, who – like the English – considered the Rhine valley one of the most romantic parts of Europe.

You see, European-mindedness is almost part of our heritage. Still, we do know that we have to foster it, improve it and make as many people get involved as possible.

Thus, we have a strong emphasis on foreign languages as they are door openers to the countries we want to get acquainted with. All our students start with English as their first foreign language, followed by French and Spanish. We offer bilingual classes in Biology, History and Geography to provide further linguistic and European competence through the English language.

Our curricula put a strong emphasis on European topics and we have established a course with the title “Our Region in Europe”, where aspects of history, geography and social studies are taught in years 8 and 9. Moreover, we have started a new project of advanced studies on European immigration; this year with special emphasis on Turkish immigrants of the second and third generation in Germany. In this context we are in contact with a school in Istanbul, which we got to know through ESN.

ESN has proved to be a great opportunity for our pupils and our teachers to go to different countries, individually or in a group. Through taking part in a social project (like in Hungary) or in a science project (like in Turkey) or just attending classes in another country all participants enjoyed both studying the “minds” of other people and understanding our common European ways.

But there have been many more projects to promote European-mindedness. Together with schools in Italy, Greece, Malta and Finland, we worked on a Comenius project on European customs and traditions (2009-2011); each year we attend Europe Day in Milan, where we take part in competitions on the European motto of the respective year (like writing a fairy tale on poverty and exclusion); we help our pupils to get work experience abroad (mainly in English schools) and support teachers who plan school trips to other European countries.

From European-mindedness we try to move a further step towards International-mindedness, namely by offering a regular exchange programme with our partner school in Buffalo.

The above mentioned projects provide face-to-face experience, which pupils are encouraged to describe and evaluate in a documentation, which – together with their linguistic and bilingual competence – enables them to receive the Excellence Label CertiLingua.

All in all, it is our wish to provide solid information and opportunities, so that each of our pupils can go his or her individual way toward European-mindedness.