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Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union 

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

International mobility for Oliver Twist School children: a chance to grow, challenge and gain awareness.

Those who return from a journey are always a little older than when they left. That’s also the case for the 26 fourth-year students from Cometa’s Oliver Twist School, the protagonists of IGT-supported international mobilities contributing to the European project “GIVE – Governance for Inclusive Vocational Excellence,” funded by the EU Erasmus+ Program under the Centers of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) initiative.

 At the end of April, they reached Spain, Malta and Finland, accompanied by a mentor, for a two-week internship abroad. It was a new experience that provided a stimulating opportunity to get involved, learn new things and enrich their cultural background, returning with a backpack full of experience and insights to treasure.

“A highly stimulating experience for them,” says school principal Giovanni Figini, “useful for entering the world of work and experimenting with the foreign language and their own autonomy. 

Two intense weeks, work-wise and culturally. The students were enthusiastic, because they saw how the skills they have gained over the years at the professional level are also expendable abroad.

This has opened up for them the knowledge that they can think bigger, with broader horizons.”

The students in the bar and catering course of study travelled to Bilbao, where they got to work in two hotels and three local restaurants, notice the differences from Italy and relate to customers and colleagues in a language other than their own. “The students proved to be very prepared,” said their textile tutor Vaghi, “We arrived three days before they started working, so they got to know the Spanish tutors, the places where they would be working, the way to get there. It was interesting to see them pick up on the differences in preparation, for example between a “cappuccino” and a “café con leche”, but especially to put their communicative resources to work to overcome language difficulties. Several surprised me with their flexibility, curiosity and adaptability. Valuable, then, were the dinners together, where they organized themselves to make food, and the moments of conviviality.”

Also happy were the boys, who returned with new skills and awareness: “It was a unique experience in which we learned many things. In Spain they have different approaches and different ways of working than here, but this helped us open our horizons. We realized that we were able to work abroad as well, something difficult to think about before these two weeks. It was tiring but satisfying. We now have more confidence in ourselves.”

The wood students, on the other hand, reached Finland, in a country not far from Helsinki. Unlike the others, they did not do their internship in a company, but were welcomed by Omnia, a vocational school for kids like them, with huge workshops and machinery different from what they are used to in Italy. The proposed project consisted of making a small chair, which could be disassembled into all its parts and, therefore, easily transported in their luggage on their return to Italy. The young people from the Oliver Twist school were able to distinguish themselves by their familiarity and learning ability. “The Finnish work manager was impressed by their skill and speed, so much so that he had to come up with something else to offer them as an activity,” says wood sector tutor Carlo Gorgoglione. “It was undoubtedly an important experience, in which the young people understood that they were capable, from a professional and human point of view, of working outside Italy as well. They realized that Cometa taught them to learn and that this can open any door. Even among themselves, they spoke in English and, after some initial awkwardness, they began to interact with the Finnish boys at the school as well. Everyone has shown flexibility and willingness to adapt and go beyond their limits.”

These are the words of some of the boys, who got to try their hand at new tools: “We feel improved from a human point of view: neater, more responsible in managing money and schedules, more confident in ourselves. It was good to meet new people, but also the relationship with fellow students came out stronger, we supported each other. We saw a lot of machinery that we don’t have in Italy and learned how to work on the lathe. The biggest obstacle was the language, but with time you learn to communicate.”

Malta and Valletta, on the other hand, hosted textile students, who interned in three stores of various clothing brands. For some it was a totally new work experience, while others, who had already done similar internships, were able to compare different ways of selling and arranging items. It was an activity that relied mostly on customer relations rather than back-office activities. “It was a blender of stimuli and relationships, which provided everyone with important transversal skills,” explains tutor Mario Saetti, who accompanied them. “They were required to quickly understand the rules of the game, the different culture and what was being asked of them. They were very responsive and helpful, adept at solving any problems. And seeing them happy in the evening gave an idea of how positive this experience was.”

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