On March 4th, 8 Project Rousseau students travelled to Copenhagen for our annual exchange with Rysensteen Gymnasium. This year, our students spent over a week in Europe, combining their visit to Copenhagen with a short trip to Berlin. Our program of activities aimed to broaden our students' cultural horizons, improve their college readiness and help them develop links with their Danish peers.
Despite taking the red-eye flight, our students were full of enthusiasm when they arrived in Copenhagen and were introduced to their Danish host families and peers. It was remarkableto see the meetings transform from shyness to laughter and free-flowing conversation after just a few hours. One student observed that her hosts were "so warm and friendly", instantly making her feel that she was in a "home away from home."
Across the next few days, our students spent time discovering Copenhagen and taking classes at Rysensteen Gymnasium. Whether visiting the Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park with their peers, enjoying an "around the world" potluck or discussing Danish society (from its fashion to its healthcare system) with their host families, our students enjoyed a whole host of new experiences. All the students felt that the experiences had transformed their perspective on the world around them and a few have even developed an interest in Danish politics!
The exchange with Rysensteen also served to complement Project Rousseau's college readiness program. Our students visited the University of Copenhagen and Humboldt University, Berlin. The tours took a holistic approach, moving beyond a purely academic focus and introducing our students to college life in Europe and the opportunities which studying abroad can offer. One mentee observed that meeting so many high-achieving students was truly inspirational, showing that "bigger dreams are always attainable."
This exchange would not have been possible were it not for the generosity and support of Rysensteen Gymnasium. We owe a huge debt of gratitude towards the staff, pupils and host families and to Anne McClymont, whose passion for education and equality of opportunity has driven this exchange forward.
In an increasing globalized world, exposure to other cultures and respect for difference are more important than ever before. Our exchange with Copenhagen offers a truly life-altering opportunity to some of our nation's most underserved students. As Mad's Blom, a Social Studies teacher at Rysensteen observed, this is a unique opportunity to break down cultural boundaries, foster mutual respect and help future generations come together around a shared understanding of what it means to be young.
Please do visit our Broadening Horizons page for more information!