THIRD PLACE MEETING WITH OUR FRENCH PARTNERSCHOOL
The third place encounter between the Europaschule Erkelenz and its French partner school, the Collège Marcel Pagnol in Bonnières-sur-Seine, took place in Kehl from the 6th to the 10th of February 2023. The city was chosen because of its geographical location, just one bridge away from Strasbourg. The theme of the project was "Fake News: simply news or danger for democracy?" and was chosen because of its explosive topicality.
The Third Place Encounters are a new programme of the Franco-German Youth Office (DFJW), which aims above all to increase pupils' motivation to learn German or French. During a project week, the pupils can not only deepen their language and cultural knowledge far from their families and school, but they also learn to work together on various current topics.
The programme for the week was very extensive. During the week, students from both countries took part in a simulation game called "What the fake?! The EU's approach to hate speech and disinformation", in which they put themselves in the shoes of representatives of EU countries to find out what legislative measures would be appropriate to tackle this problem. The simulation game, led by two facilitators from Planpolitik, a Berlin-based institution specialising in political education, allowed the students not only to mobilise the knowledge they had acquired about the topic in the preparatory phase, but also to realise how difficult it is to reach a common legislative decision, as opinions on this issue can differ widely. In a second step, passers-by on the streets of Kehl and Strasbourg were interviewed on this topic using an online form developed in class. Once the questionnaires have been evaluated, the next step in the German part of the project will be to present the results of the survey to the MEP of the Heinsberg district, Mrs Verheyen, on the 24 of February. The students will discuss with her - now that the pupils are familiar with the problem of a European legislation from 27 countries - the policy of the European Union not only against "fake news" but also against hate speech. To conclude the project with a final moment of Franco-German cooperation, the German pupils will report on the discussion to their French partners.
During the week, the pupils also took part in a guided tour of the European Union Parliament and visited the historical centres of the two cities. The
visit to the Parliament not only gave the pupils an insight into how the Parliament works, but will also help them gain a better understanding of it later when Mrs Verheyen reports on her work as a parliamentarian. During the tour of the two cities, the pupils were able to discover, among other things, that the stork is the heraldic animal of Strasbourg and that, in Kehl, more French is spoken than German in the supermarkets and on the streets. Of course, there were also moments of playing games together. The game of the hour was a card game played in both countries: "Uno". To thank the pupils for their commitment to this project, the Franco-German team of teachers organised an Olympiad with various games in which there were prizes to be won. The pupils took part in German-French teams of four. During the week, the pupils were also given the opportunity to work for the school. In joint study sessions, the pupils were able to prepare for homework and exams in the coming weeks and months. In conclusion, this programme showed the pupils that the European Union is not only a school subject, but that it also starts with them; it consists of their questions and answers, of all the impressions and laughter shared during the different exchange activities, but also of the fears of the first lessons when they did not know each other yet, or the fears of approaching people in the street to ask their opinion when doing micro-trottoir. Summarised here are the memories that these students surely share and that will remain unforgettable for many. Now it only remains for us to thank the DFJW for allowing us to participate in this project. We hope to continue to work with our partner schools in the years to come and to develop the experience we have gained in this first project.