Strasbourg's multiculturalism, multilingualism, tumultuous history and rich culture were reasons why the EU, in its infancy stages, decided to make Strasbourg one of their three parliamentary locations (the others are in Luxembourg and of course in Brussels). Strasbourg is also home to the EU Court of Human Rights.
The bus ride from the Chateau to the EU location was a mere 12 minutes including one bus change, and the admission was free. How could I not try to get the group in even though technically we were well into the two-week cut off time? It can't hurt to ask, can it? Sure enough, I immediately got an email back from someone who opened up the online registration platform just for us, and I was able to register all students for a visit five days later!
The students got a great presentation by one of the employees about the EU itself, its political affiliations, what it means as a governmental body and its jurisdictions.
We even had great fortune that parliament was in session and so we were able to sit in the press gallery high above while listening to the action. We were given headphones so that we could follow simultaneous translations into English, as each politician spoke in their native tongue.
What was more interesting even was the fact that it was the day Romania took over the one-year presidency of the EU and a question period was scheduled where other members of parliament could bring forth questions and concerns. Well, let's just say those politicians did not mince words to the great surprise of the students. Romania is known for its history of human rights abuses, and there were some very vocal opponents of Romania guiding the EU for the next year. The questions were very strong, very critical and to the point. It was a huge eye-opener for the students and definitely not boring!
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I think making a connection with local youth in the same boat is eye opening, and so I was looking for an opportunity to have my students enjoy that same privilege.
I reached out to Omnis, a local tourism school that operated similar programs to those at Humber College, and whose interns were in fact working at the Chateau.
I was met with great enthusiasm from the teachers there and within a few days we had agreed on a date and time for our students to visit and do their assignment presentation on Sustainable Tourism topics in front of their students!!
Bus line #15 brought us door to door from the Chateau to the Omnis Business School.
The interest from the local students was tremendous, and their understanding of the English language made the endeavour a seamless operation.
They even baked cakes and served refreshments!