Monday, 5 December 2016

Creative Writing: Erasmus Plus in Paris by Savita Kalhan

I was invited to the Lycee Maurice Genevoix, in Montrouge in Paris, at the end of November to run a few writing workshops based on my short story, The Death of Princess. It was going to be a two-day event - fifty French students from the school for a two hour workshop on the first day, and over sixty international students and twenty teachers, from the Erasmus Plus programme, for four hours the next day.

The school is part of the Erasmus Plus programme. Erasmus Plus is funded by the European Commission to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. It has a budget of €14.7 billion to provide opportunities for over four million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad, and for co-operation in innovation and exchange of good practices in education and teaching.

The aim of the Erasmus Plus meet that I was part of at the Lycee Maurice Genevoix was to foster intercultural awareness and improve creativity and English Language skills amongst the participants. 

To that end, the kids were very well prepared by their teachers before arriving in Paris for their week of workshops, which included a host of activities, talks, workshops on urban farming and taking part in my writing workshop. The week of programmes was organised by an English teacher in the school - Sarah el Bouh, who co-ordinated all the international speakers invited for the week, the international pupils and teachers, and she did it amazingly well, enthusiastically supported by the staff from the school. 

For my international event, pupils and teachers from eight countries were involved: France, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Lithuania, Turkey, Latvia, and Italy. Their proficiency in English varied, but the pupils were engaged and lively when it came to discussing the short story, asking and answering questions and producing written work.

All the countries involved in my workshop had translated my story into their own language. One pupil from Lithuania even wrote out a passage from the story, illustrated it, and framed it before presenting it to me.

Carla Barbi, from the Italian team, presented me with a stunning book on her region of Italy - San Giorgio, Mantova.

The Turkish team came with beautiful drawings depicting different scenes from my story. I was presented with one that I could take home.

The French students from both days had prepared illustrations based on scenes in the short story that had impacted them most. Here's a collection of their work -

 And some more illustrations from the French students -

The kids broke up into smaller groups for discussion and the writing exercises. Each group was mixed in terms of English language ability, but also mixed in terms of nationality. The kids worked with each other, got an insight into each other's cultures and view points, and helped and supported each other in understanding the themes of the story, which was great to see.

Considering the mixed range of English ability amongst the 60 kids, I can honestly say that their level of interest and engagement far exceeded my expectations. It was fulfilling and rewarding, and from the feedback I've had from the teachers, the kids felt the same way too.


So, would I do something like this again? 

Yes, in a heartbeat!

A big thank you to Miriam Halahmy for putting me in touch with this project!

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Miriam Halahmy said...

What a brilliant experience. I love all the drawings and paintings and it is clear that the students benefited hugely from your input. I KNEW they'd love you!!!

Miriam Halahmy said...

What a brilliant experience. I love all the drawings and paintings and it is clear that the students benefited hugely from your input. I KNEW they'd love you!!!

Savita Kalhan said...

Thank you, Miriam. It really was an amazing time! The drawings and paintings were so unexpected - and brilliant. The kids really thought about the story and it seemed to have had a big impact on them.

Sue Purkiss said...

Sounds wonderful! I think the Erasmus scheme is great - sigh...

Savita Kalhan said...

It really is, Sue. Such a shame...

irene Dantas said...

It was a great experience for the students and teachers. Hope to have your books in portuguese soon.

Savita Kalhan said...

Thank you, Irene! I hope so too!

Barbi Carla said...

It was an unforgettable esperience for for the Young Italian Students. We hope to meet Savita again but in Italy at Festivaletteratura in Mantova.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Wow Savita! Sounds fascinating. How wonderful to have been part of this.

Patsy said...

We're encouraged to think the 'youth of today' are lazy and stupid. Clearly that's not true of them all!

Obat Vitalitas Pria said...

paris is god

Sarah El Bouh said...

It was an amazing experience for the students!
They were very excited to meet you !
We loved having the workshop which was run wonderfully! Thank You Savita and Thank You my dear Miriam as you made this possible!
Looking forward to meeting you in London and in Paris.

Anonymous said...

Dear Savita , I also loved this meeting , it was an enriching experience and made our job so much more meaningful ! can't wait to renew the experience !Elodie Cherittwizer