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Showing posts from April, 2012

Het Withstraat Dagboek: We Lopen Naar de Kop van Zuid

There is no mistaking the distinct feel that this a European city as you brace yourself against the exfoliating coldness of the wintry Rotterdam air. The people look similar to me, but the buildings, roads and atmosphere all feel very different.
It is the afternoon of Thursday 9th February and we are heading for the Kop van Zuid (Southbank) area of Rotterdam. Our ultimate destination is the Nederlands Fotomuseum – the Dutch national photography museum.
After prising the students away from MacDonald’s, having been on a voyage of discovery to the Dutch version of Co-op with an Italian student who didn’t like the sound of a Big Mac for lunch, we have regrouped, looking like the tourists we are, on the corner of Westblaak and Coolsingel.
We are quite an incongruous looking group: a couple of white male teachers and a female Asian teacher (who has an unnatural obsession with handbags), with students, male and female, who are British, Iraqi, Somali, Bengali, Arab, Pakistani, white, black, …

Het Withstraat Dagboek: Welkom

The day has started early and my eyes are letting me know this. Even so, waking up at around 4.30am in order to catch the X26 bus to Heathrow from a cold, deserted Teddington High Street has done little to dampen my excitement for the four days ahead. 
It is Thursday 9th February and I am bound for Rotterdam, Netherlands – along with twenty students and a couple of other teachers. Our purpose for travelling is mainly to visit our partner school, The Einstein Lyceum. Having managed two of their visits to my workplace in the UK for the last couple of years, it seems only right that we should return the favour and descend upon their city. 
The group of students accompanying us is a truly representative group of West London 16-19 year olds – a cross-sections of races, nationalities and religions. In fact, as I arrive, last of everyone, at Heathrow Terminal 5, seeing all of their groggy little faces, I realise once again that it is this rich cultural mix that keeps me passionate about th…