OSW Bochum is one of the partners of the Grundtvig Learning Partnership H.E.L.P. – How to Educate Learners through Peer-Mentoring. This project runs from 2012 to 2014 and is funded by the European Community. The project aims to promote the use of peer-mentoring in adult education. With partners from France, Greece, Ireland, Spain and UK we exchange ideas and meet regularly.
In May 2014 the last meeting of the partnership was held in Portlaoise, Ireland, and we (as former mentors) had the possibility to go there with our two teachers Ms. Beyer and Ms. Hein.
On Sunday the 11th May 2014 we arrived at the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel. After getting to know our rooms and our hotel (especially the spa) we had our first meeting with the other project partners at the hotel reception in the evening. For some it was a meeting with familiar faces who hugged each other happy to be reunited. The others also enjoyed the warm welcome while some had to repeat their names several times until the others somehow managed the pronunciation (e.g. Roman was surprisingly hard for some ) After the delicious meal at the local Italian restaurant we (the Germans) entered downtown Portlaoise in order to explore the local pub-culture. The recommendation of our Irish project coordinator Sandra took us to the Kavanagh`s, a very nice pub in the city where we enjoyed our first genuine Irish Guinness.
In the morning of the second day we had breakfast at the hotel where some had the courage to try some typically Irish black-pudding (don´t mistake this for a delicious chocolate pudding, NO!! it is what we call “Blutwurst” thickly cut). Afterwards we went to the Portlaoise Adult Education Centre, our Irish partner, where every country presented their project to the others. A visit to the town council followed where we not only had the chance to join a council meeting but also met with famous Rotimi Adebari, the star of our English book (Context 21 Starter, p. 66). In the afternoon the teachers worked on their final project report while the students had a numeracy workshop. Later in the afternoon we went to Emo Court, a historic mansion in county Laois.
The next day we spent in Dublin at Leinster House where the Irish parliament resides. We had a guided tour and even met the Minister of Children and Youth Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, and were invited to the “members only” parliament restaurant. The tour was a bit of a quest because we had to fill in a questionnaire with some tricky questions on Irish politics. Sadly Germany only made second place.
Our last day was again a very intense working day. First dissemination strategies of our project were shared and discussed. Afterwards the group split again into students and teachers. The students did a digital media workshop while the teachers started with their reflection and evaluation of the project. For the final review of the project the groups rejoined. In the afternoon we departed for Kilkenny to see the famous castle and explore the medieval city. At the end of the day we had our farewell-dinner and celebrated Maureen´s birthday who again claimed, “It´s not my birthday today!” like every time when the group met because they had turned it into a running gag to surprise her with spontaneous singing and cake.
It is needless to say that every night we continued with the exploration of the local pub culture and concluding it can be said that 23.30 is definitely too early for the last drink´s order
Jamila Sidikou (K2b), Diane Merz (K5a), Roman Sauter & Olaf Haberecht (K3b)