Cultural Exchange Trip with Sweden: Days 3 & 4

Six 8th grade students from Inly Middle School are abroad on a cultural exchange trip with Alvkullen Montessori School in Kungalv, Sweden. Inly’s Assistant Head of School, Julie Kelly-Detwiler, is chaperoning the trip and sends this update:

5/4/2011

Good Morning All,
We had a cold, wet, long, but very successful visit to Stockholm yesterday.  We saw Parliament, the royal castle, a royal museum, a ship museum and SNOW IN MAY.  Our Stockholm visiting day always starts early (4:30 am alarm) and ends late (home by 9:30 pm), and is packed with sights and experiences.  We walk a great deal, and even though the weather did not cooperate, our day gave us a good feel for the beautiful, antiquated, cosmopolitan port city of Stockholm.

We have completed the planes, trains, and automobile portion of our exchange and stayed close to home today with a full day in Kungalv – the beautiful cobble stoned city where our exchange school, Alvkullen, is housed.  We spent the morning with the Alvkullen 6th years who took us on a guided tour of their old village, complete with some time spent in the beautiful terraced garden park that lines a main street, a stop at one of the oldest churches in Sweden, and a history lesson of the struggles between Sweden, Norway and Denmark which was given to us outside a castle built in the 1100s.   For the 6th years, this was a great accomplishment as they conducted and delivered all of their research in English.

The morning ended with our students doing some research of their own, interviewing students and teachers to add to the work they have been doing on Sweden that will culminate in their Swedish presentations.  Our students had a traditional Swedish lunch (salmon and potatoes, with meat for those fish averse among us) and an outdoor recess before returning inside to spend time in the Children’s House and Lower Elementary Classrooms.

Melissa and I had a chance to spend some time in reflection with our students and are impressed with what they have absorbed in their time here, and the connections they are making.  They can quickly point out the similarities and the differences, and they are extending themselves to approach this as an exchange and not a vacation.  The ancient history of this area is inescapable and reminds American visitors of our relative youth. The ecological habits that are so common and universal have made an impression, as has the beauty and cleanliness of the area.  Everyone feels welcomed and comfortable with their host families, and all of our host families have remarked on how much they are enjoying our students.

After school today, students are all joining together for a traditional Swedish field game and then will transition to one of the host family’s homes for dinner and a movie.  This is the time our students seem to most enjoy—teenagers being teenagers while learning about a different culture from the inside out.

We return to, as Jan would point out, our transportation rich visit, with bus and ferry trips to a coastal island, Marstrand, where we will take a tour of a very old and relatively intact castle.  More on that later….

I don’t have pictures with me to send, but will send those along when the opportunity allows.

Hope that all is going well on the home front!

Julie and Melissa

Read Cultural Exchange Trip with Sweden: Days 1& 2.

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