Secondary school students from Coláiste Éamann Rís in Ballyphehane, Cork city, are having the time of their lives in Cyprus this week, enjoying an exchange with a school from the Mediterranean country.
Principal Aaron Wolfe told The Echo from Cyprus that five Cork students are staying with host families involved in the Erasmus exchange involving students from Cyprus, Turkey, Germany, and Italy.
The group jetted out to Cyprus via Heathrow last Saturday, and are due to return next Friday. “Our students are going to school and doing activities in Cyprus, and they’re coming to Ireland on November 14. We’re going to Germany for Christmas, and Turkey in March, and Italy in May,” said Mr Wolfe.
For one of the girls from Cork, it was her first time on an aeroplane. “They’re having the time of their lives. They’re living with host families. You can see they are thriving. They’re given a level of independence they have never been given before. One girl here – it was her first time abroad.”
One of the fun events was a Treasure Hunt around a Cypriot town with their fellow European students.
The Irish students are aged about 16. The theme of the project is called ‘welcoming refugees’ examining how different countries welcome refugee and immigrant students into their education system.
Erasmus has been bringing people together across Europe since 1987, and in Ireland, the programme is overseen by Léargas.
“It’s a fantastic fund. Back in Ireland, we’ve had teachers come to us from the Netherlands, purely just to work shadow,” adds Mr Wolfe. The Dutch teachers learn skills from their Irish counterparts and vice versa.
“One set of teachers is coming on Tuesday, and another set is coming on Thursday. It’s the more global view of education now, and how we learn from other countries.”