VIRTEX4ALL - FINAL MEETING IN ZARAGOZA (E)

 

SAM_3033The last Virtex4all partners' meeting took place in Zaragoza, from 9th to 12th September, 2010. Over the period of two years, the partners from the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey, worked hard to further refine and supplement the materials of the original award winning Virtex project and to clarify the levels using the Common European Framework for Reference (CEF).

The FASE organization, the host of the last meeting, was represented by Maria Martin. Since its creation, FASE has specialized in developing ICT solutions for training programs and has been a pioneer in the development of e-learning methodology for lifelong learning. FASE has participated in more than 40 European projects implementing the use of ICTs in educational and training fields.

While cold weather dominated most parts of Europe, Zaragoza welcomed us with a bright blue sky and high temperatures. Back in summer dresses, the partners met in Hotel Romareda for their first dinner together.

On Friday morning, Maria accompanied us to the University of Zaragoza, where the meeting took place. It was going to be a long day. Final adjustments to the competence tests had been made followed by 15 minutes presentations by each partner on how to use Virtex4all as an intercultural communication tool in preparing students for their placement abroad.

After lunch at the University cafeteria, the meeting continued with a lecture and workshop led by Carmen Boogaard from the University of Amsterdam on marketing strategies - an inevitable step in crossing the borders of the meeting rooms and spreading Virtex4all to the whole world. Marketing strategies were explained and each country partners were asked to fill in the format on how to approach the matter in their own country.

To lighten up  and to relax a little, Natalia Komanicka presented a movie on intercultural incidents, "The Tourist Trap", a British reality show from 1998, where four different nationalities (the British, the Americans, the Germans and the Japanese) find themselves exposed to identical incidents but does each nationality behave in an identical way? Obviously not.

P1030249We felt like we really needed a siesta. After a short rest we were eager to go to downtown Zaragoza, where we strolled along with the natives who were clearly enjoying pleasant weather and charming atmosphere of the main square, Plaza del Pilar.  A short peek into the famous Basilica del Pilar, one of the most visited churches in Spain, and we were off to the Las Palomas Restaurant to taste tapas in buffet style. Tapas, as explained by Maria, is a name given to a wide variety of appetizers and meals. It is not a particular type of food. Anything can be tapas -  paella, ham and cheese on toast, meat or vegetable dishes, as long as it is small. It was nearly midnight and we were sitting in a Café at the Plaza watching people who didn't seem to hurry anywhere.

P1030274Saturday morning meeting took place on the new premises of FASE. Financial tasks were finalized as well as all the tests were now ready to be posted on the website both in English and in German. The tasks were completed. Feeling satisfaction from well accomplished work and a little relief at the same time, we headed off for lunch to taste the original Spanish paella.

The afternoon was free with a lot of options - discovering old Zaragoza from a sightseeing bus, shopping or just sitting on shores of Ebro river and enjoying magnificent views. The final dinner in Club Nautico was an unforgettable experience. Top level cuisine with seven courses was a true pleasure for our taste buds.

It was almost midnight, time to say good-bye. Last cheers to the success of the project and to its future!

Please find enclosed the minutes of the fourth meeting of the Virtex4All project group, meeting held on Friday June 4th 2010, 08:30 – 17:00 and on Saturday June 5th, 10:00 – 13:00 at the Kuressaare Regional Training Centre, Estonia

 Report

 Next meeting will be organized in Zaragoza, Spain on September 9th – 12th , 2010.

Virtex4All is a ‘transfer of innovation’ programme intended to ensure that full use is made of the prize-winning materials devised as part of the original Virtex project coordinated by Elzemien Warnink of the Netherlands.
The materials are used for language learning – both in class and for independent learning - for students of the hospitality and tourism professions; the task of the Virtex4All team is to refine and supplement the materials, and above all to clarify the levels of the tasks in each of the six units using the Common European Framework of Reference (CEF). The AEHT has an important role to play in disseminating the project’s materials through its large network of member schools and in testing out the programme thanks to the large number of experienced language teachers working in our member schools in over 40 European countries. The project partners are from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey. Our second meeting was held in the Bornova Technical and Vocational High School, Izmir, Turkey.

Ataturk statue outside Bornova High School, with the Welcome to Virtex4all banner behind
Ataturk statue outside Bornova High School, with the Welcome to Virtex4all banner behind

We were met at the airport and whisked off to the sumptuous Anemon hotel in the Izmir suburb of Bornova; just time for a quick dip in the limpid azure swimming pool before the welcome dinner at the hotel, presided over by the Bornova school’s director Gönül Karaman, obviously pleased to welcome us to her charming city. We were waited on by students from her school currently on placement at the Anemon hotel, who were eager to try out their English by explaining the menu to us; and Gönül initiated us into the mysteries of Raki drinking – a must to accompany the first course of every Turkish dinner, she assured us. Raki is a more potent form of pastis, turning white (rather than yellow) when water is added; it always seems to be served in giant measures! At the dinner Gönül presented us all with an elegant embroidered cloth bag containing some gifts, which had been made by her students in the school’s sewing department which we visited the following day.
On Friday morning our Izmir colleagues Nazan Telli and Alime Zenger organised a motorcade of cars to ferry us the short distance to the Bornova Technical and Vocational High School: the school had pulled out all the stops to make us welcome, placing all their facilities at our entire disposal, and ensuring that staff were always on hand to help. We were impressed by the omnipresence of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic: his statue and extracts from his speeches adorn an external wall (shown here beneath a poster welcoming the Virtex4all team to Bornova school), with similar statues, quotations and portraits inside – he has clearly been a great inspiration to his country and is widely revered.

The Virtex4All project gets off to a good start in The Netherlands
The first meeting of the Virtex4All project took place in Amsterdam on January 22nd, 23rd and 24th 2009. The project aims to build on the success of the original Virtex project by rearranging and adding to the materials and classifying them according to the Common European Framework levels for languages, enabling our language teachers to incorporate Virtex into an overall approach to language learning.

Amsterdam
Amsterdam
The project is coordinated by the ROC van Amsterdam’s international office René van Paridon and by the Amsterdam-based Colorez agency, a partnership consisting of Corine Horstra and Elzemien Warnink - many of us know Elzemien through her contribution to the prize-winning Virtex I project, completed last year. The partners are from schools in Czechia (Poderbrady), Estonia (Kuressaare), Spain  (Zaragoza), Turkey (Ankara and Izmir)

On the first evening the delegates battled through the inclement Amsterdam weather for the welcome dinner at the Café Américain on the Leidseplein close to our lodgings at the Hôtel de Paris.

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