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At the end of our latest Vocational Educational Training (VET) project we asked our local sending partners what impact those Climb Higher opportunities had on their students.

Here is what they have to say:

York College

Patrick Wilson

Our students at York College completed an outdoor activity project in Catania, Sicily. The project with Everything is Possible involved climbing Mount Etna, but also allowed the students to Kayak, Mountain Bike, Zip Line, Canyon and explore the city.

The two-week project enabled our students to develop skills for life. Cooking and cleaning became daily habits. Communicating with locals and learning about the culture continuously developed. Not only this, but students were also able to problem solve and overcome adversity during activities they hadn’t completed before. These skills will help our students for life. They will be able to transition into university seamlessly and utilise these skills for whichever careers they choose to pursue.

Before the project, Everything is Possible came into college. During this time students completed team building activities. This allowed them to improve their relationships with each other before flying out to Catania. After completing the project, Everything is Possible came back into college for students to evaluate their project, give feedback and support students who were interested in the opportunity to complete additional projects in the future.

Bradford College

Nicolas Sykes, Music Programme Leader (Further Education)

This was a collaborative project between Media and Music students at Bradford College. The concept was to create a poetic documentary film with an accompanying soundtrack to capture the essence of life Italy (specifically Pesaro) and the students perception of life in Italy. The students worked in collaboration with ‘Feel Sound Music’ studio to record and produce their soundtrack and film. The main contacts in Italy, Guiliano and Fabio, were communicative, friendly and extremely helpful.

In order to plan and develop this project, the students were asked to research and analyse several famous Italian songs and poetic documentary films. The project was directly linked to the vocational study areas, allowing them to explore alternative ideas and techniques. Additionally, Everything is Possible, led pre-departure training, to ensure the students were fully prepared to be self-sufficient throughout the project.

However, for this group of students it was much more than completing the project. For many students it was their first time in a different country, the first time on a beach, the first time riding a bike and the first time cooking and living without parental supervision. The students were fully immersed in Italian culture, recording and producing visual and audio recordings of a local jazz band, visiting local art exhibitions and concerts, trips to sites of historical interest, learning to cook Italian cuisine and beginning to communicate in a new language. Travel was largely undertaken by bicycle due to the large number of cycle routes in Pesaro, incorporating exercise into the project everyday. This was an excellent way to experience a large coverage of the local area.

This project was also an opportunity to learn about British culture as well as Italian culture. Half of the student group was Muslim and Ramadan took place during the project. This meant trips to find Halal food and also observing fast. All students and staff observed the first day of fast together with several non-Muslim students deciding to continue the fast in support of the other students.

The students have been able to demonstrate large scale project management, collaboration and organisation. The students have displayed imaginative and flexible processes, skills and knowledge in order to complete their project. They have displayed a decisive demonstration of initiative in effectively solving problems. They have shown detailed and coherent self-directed planning and negotiation. They have also been able to confidently select, organise and communicate idea.

During the project there were several interactions with local shops, restaurants, museums and member of the public. There were often queries into what we were doing and what was the purpose of our project – particularly due to us filming and recording a lot of the time. The local population also featured in much of the film and exchanges were made to share further information via email. We also featured in the local press during the project, alongside Everything is Possible, promoting the fantastic project and opportunity.

Many of the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and this project has given them the belief and confidence to pursue further funding opportunities and travel abroad in the future. It has developed their sense of self and allowed them to experience a new culture whilst also learning to live independently. The impact of this project will transform the students’ lives and it will be an experience they will never forget.

York College

Simon Smith

Provisionally titled ‘Born in the Fumes’, the project was independently run, collaborating with the Artisa Art Gallery, Fundacion Museo Arubano (FMA), Refineria di Aruba (RDA) and the National Archived of Aruba. The aim was to document the changing nature of San Nicolas on the southern tip of the island: exploring the impact of the oil industry on the town and the emerging art scene at the heart of the town’s regeneration.

The students worked on original footage and primary interviews with key characters in the town and its arts movement, as well as using archive material from the National Archives and RDA. We were given excellent access to archive material and local experts were very generous with their time.

Prior to leaving the UK we had several weekly meetings to plan the documentary and organise contacts and material. Students were also required to plan and organise equipment for the project and to plan menus and food shopping lists. A key part of the pre-departure planning was orientation meetings with Everything is Possible, with meetings with Clair, Mel and Godfrey. These were invaluable in terms of support around the actual project, but also in familiarising students with the culture of Aruba, expectations and practicalities.

The project fitted exceptionally well with the course, with direct links to the students’ Factual Unit, which requires them to make a factually based media product (documentary, feature article, etc.). The actual project provided material for this, but other students have been inspired to create documentaries about Aruban wildlife and conservation. This would not have been possible without the project. Footage was reviewed at the end of each day, with amendments and new opportunities being incorporated into the pre-production work. The opportunity to interview experts and artists proved particularly challenging for the students who are not used to this level of professional work, especially in a different culture and it was good to see how they rose to the challenge, with all of them showing real development throughout the project.

These professional interviewing skills have been a central plank of the students’ development, however they also learnt real vocational skills in terms of working with primary research in the Archives and museums, as well as audio recording, A and B roll filming, archiving and editing. Doing all this on location meant working without the usual support structures, being organised, resilient and proactive in decision-making. We have no doubt these would not have been possible in their usual domestic setting, or indeed on a UK based residential project. The archive material and interviews contributed directly to the current decolonisation of the curriculum and the project opened up lots of debates around international politics, colonialism (old and new), global economics and so on, all with real examples and contexts.

Every student made significant personal development. At a really simple level it involved managing emotions far from home and in a group they were thrown into. Keeping on top of household chores and navigating the demands of living independently were also developmental processes for many students (as was washing their own clothes!). In many ways it is these social and emotional skills that will have a lasting effect on the students and even at this stage we can see the positive impact the project has had on them as people as well as students.

The main thrust of the project was within a local arts community, but the students also worked with the young dancers from the Popcorn Dance Club. The completed documentary will cover the work of local artists and will raise awareness of the social issues that have affected San Nicolas with the decline of the oil industry and the void it left in its wake.

Finally, media professionals need to be able to work in a wide range of circumstances, often independently or in small groups away from the office. They need to respond to changing circumstances on the ground while keeping a film eye on their working brief. This project provided excellent opportunities for these skills to be developed and the students have gained experience of working conditions that many new recruits to the industry do not have. This will prove to be invaluable as they progress in their media and creative industry careers.

There have been tears, tantrums, sulks, but also laughter, amazement, gratitude and not a little amount of disbelief that they have had such an opportunity. It’s all been worth it, but I’ll be glad to get home to my bed and family!

York College

Charlie Barnes

I was invited to support the York College students in their Media Project; capturing Aruba’s shift in industry and move toward current cultural artistic celebration. Straightway I thought this was a great project and opportunity and I was keen to be involved. Before leaving the U.K I met with the students and with them we began to understand the opportunity and challenges that we would face in this project.

As Simon and I chaperoned the 8 students from the U.K along the 5000+ miles to Aruba, we initially became in loco parentis. Guiding and supporting them to embark on creating their documentary far away from home, with new people, in a different climate. As the days progressed their independence and confidence bloomed; their professionalism and maturity began to lead the way. The accommodation provided by Everything is Possible has enabled created a shared living experience, in which they have navigated the richness and challenges of living together. They have partnered to cook, clean, wash and laugh along the way.

This experience has provided learners with skills that will benefit them in their future’s in both their personal and professional lives. They have planned, organised and communicated with a range of local professionals to conduct real research that has allowed them to test and practise their media skills and develop interpersonal skills. With support from an Everything is Possible volunteer (Danielle), they explored local broadcaster TeleArubia and saw behind the scenes of media production. They have interviewed, historians, artists, locals, curators and more to create a sensitive portrayal. Many of these collaborators have asked for the footage and the final cut, giving a real-life context and use for their work. In turn this has added value to their production, and they have all recognised their responsibility in making sure this is a success. This special opportunity furnishes these students with experiences and portfolio work that will make them distinctive, aiding their progression to Higher Education and employment.

As an Art and Design teacher this project has allowed me to explore and research future opportunities, so that I am able to bring Art students to Aruba to collaborate with local artist and art projects to contribute to the local culture and economy. I have forged connections and garnered information that will be invaluable to this future project. In particular the support given by the Everything is Possible partner’s Artisa has opened many doors and has also contributed significantly to the Media student’s current project.

Kirklees College

Semsudin Kalabic

During our two weeks in Aruba students were involved in variety of Sporting and cultural activities including delivering coaching sessions across range of different sports including football, basketball, athletics, multi sports. Students also participate in Papiamento lessons and found this very engaging, interesting, useful and completely enjoyed the experience. Students also took part in observing and participating in dance sessions. Students worked with different organisations including local football clubs, schools and community clubs/settings. Students participated in Aruba Volunteering Project where they spent full day helping transform local football facility.

Our Aruba 2022 project started with planning and preparation phase where Everything is Possible played a key part in planning, organising and preparation regarding the paperwork involved, coming to college to meet out students and provide a detailed insight regarding the project and answered variety of questions posed by interested students. Everything is Possible were instrumental in arranging and delivering a compulsory pre-departure training preparing the students for the project in terms of expectations of project, students’ main roles and responsibilities and students had opportunity to ask any questions about the project. Everything is Possible staff were always available, very supportive and helpful regarding preparation stage of project. Students were also prepared at college with relevant staff conducting practical assessment to determine students coaching and leadership ability and competence.

For all our students this was once in a lifetime opportunity that had a very positive impact regarding their development and also played positive part in terms of their next career progression. As a result of this project, all learners have developed and improved as individuals, they have developed, gained and improved professional and personal skills including: Time Management, Teamwork and Organisational skills – by working in small teams to plan, organise and deliver sports coaching session to young children sticking to a schedule provided Initiative & Interpersonal Skills – organised different team activities to develop team morale, cohesion, to learn about local culture, tradition, food and highlight of this was Papiamento lessons and Art/Painting lesson. Motivation, Communication & Coaching/Leadership Skills – highly prepared, enthusiastic and motivated for each and every coaching session that they had to deliver, Delivered good, fun and engaging sessions to players with different needs and abilities. Learnt from local coaches regarding coaching techniques and methodologies that can be used when coaching range of sports.

I think students had a very positive and in case of Aruba Volunteering Day – quite a lasting impact as they all contributed as volunteers for a full day helping transform local football facility by painting/decorating club house and changing facilities, cleaned all areas around the ground/pitch by cutting grass/trees and painting the stand. I think they have had significant impact in terms of introducing new ideas and coaching styles that can be used by local coaches.

This project has helped all students in variety of ways, all students have made references to Aruba project on their UCAS application and I believe it has had a positive impact regarding making relevant and appropriate decisions about next steps in their education/career progression. For some students it has led to employment and voluntary work with local coaching companies. This will help them in future career as they have developed and improved interpersonal and employability skills that are transferable and can be used in variety of jobs especially in sports industry.

Bradford College

Kay Rigby

I went to Sicily with 6 students . It was fantastic to see the students all get on well together and encourage each other. There were certain students within the team that were not as confident as others but the team worked so well they encouraged each other to continue with certain tasks that they were not so confident about .

Lorenzo was great and full of knowledge about the volcanoes and the local area. The activities included Walking / camping . Gorge walking , a museum visit, Electric biking.

I think the skills that the students have learnt it budgeting . Helping to go shopping and buy foods for the days ahead and social skills

York College

Lynn Aikman

As a member of the teaching staff, it was a pleasure to take Uniformed Protective Services and Sports and Exercise Science students on the Sicily Project in April 2022.  Part of the project was to promote; independent living, teamwork, and to stretch and challenge both physically and mentally.  Staying in an independent hostel in the city centre enabled students to not only explore the culture but to sample local foods and cook for everyone on a daily rota.  Within the two-week project students took part in a variety of activities that included kayaking, mountain biking, high wire zip lining, canyoning and the ultimate challenge of climbing Mount Etna, each activity promoted both individual and team challenges that were met with enthusiasm and determination.

Prior to departure EIP held meetings with all potential students, the application process was easy to navigate, and training provided, this is mirrored after returning from the project where a debrief is held for all students and feedback supplied.  Etna Finder were our hosts during our project in Sicily, they were organised, supportive and adaptive of all the needs of the students and made the time out in Sicily enjoyable. Taking part in the project has enabled students to not only acquire new skills, build on previous ones but also stretched and challenged them on a personal level that will no doubt stand them in good stead on their career pathway.

Askham Bryan College

Jo Richards

In 2022, we were fortunate to take 2 groups of students to Caprifolen in Sweden. During this time the students were able to take part in a range of activities including horse care, supporting activities, maintenance and exercising horses. Caprifolen is a wonderful organisation for our students to be involved in, giving the them the opportunity to develop new practical skills as well as have a positive impact on the community they support. Caprifolen is a truly inclusive environment that allows the students to understand others’ needs and challenges them to find ways to overcome barriers and appreciate the journey as well as the goal. Being able take on the project of helping organise a hobby horse competition allowed them to develop their communication, teamwork and problem solving skills as well as learn new skills including woodwork and sewing! They got immense satisfaction from seeing the young people enjoying the output from their effort.

Alongside the main work that the club undertake the students developed other skills with cooking, cleaning and working together to achieve goals and be independent. They had to plan meals, budget and tackle the exchange rate and google translate to successfully complete grocery shopping. Students undertook regular care and exercising of the horses as well as work on tasks around the farm such as painting and tidying. They worked incredibly hard over the 2 weeks and were able to see what they had achieved in real-time. They were also fortunate enough to be involved in the vaulting classes and all developed some skills in this exciting sport.

Students were able to take part in pre-departure training and consider their goals and expectations, this was useful to allow them to evaluate their progress when they returned. They all grew in confidence in their time away and it gave them belief that they can overcome unknown challenges and they are now much more likely to venture out of their comfort zone for future opportunities. They have an unusual experience that will set them apart from their peers and demonstrates their ability to stretch themselves. It is a unique opportunity that benefits both sides of the relationship

Everton Football College

David James

I have personally been involved in two projects in Valencia hosted by Spanish Pro Football. The first project was delivered to 20 female students aged between 16 to 18 and the second group of males aged between 16 to 17 years of age.

All of the students were enrolled on either a Level 2 or 3 BTEC in sport which was delivered by Everton Football College. They are all keen footballers and are actively involved in either playing or delivering coaching sessions which is also part of their education programme.

Prior to the projects taking place all students were vetted prior to their selection. This involved the students having to apply to go on the project by means of an application and then take part in a practical coaching session. This allowed the College to ensure that the students were able to deliver suitable sessions based on the potential player and ability. It also allowed us to understand what the individual was looking to gain out of the project.

Spanish Pro Football hosted the project and ensured that the project enabled the students to gain both cultural opportunities and increase their confidence. Spanish Pro Football engaged well with the students and staff and clearly understood what the aims of the project were.

The opportunities they gained through these projects helped to both make positive choices for their futures, whether it be within the sports industry or allowing them to gain more confidence when engaged in similar situations in their day to day lives.

Kirklees College

Chantelle McDade

To prepare students for the project in Aruba, they had various meetings with college staff and Everything is Possible.

The meetings which was hosted by Everything is Possible included presentations from staff providing information to prepare the students for the project, this involved group discussions and task to complete to show what was expected of them and what they will experience. Information is printed out and can be accessed on the website for students to show Parents/guardians to help with making decisions.

Students were shown testimonies of successful completed projects, along with discussing the benefits it can provide students during and after projects. Contact details are given to students to use for further support they may need. Travel arrangements were arranged by Everything is Possible along with all the information we needed for when we got to Aruba.

Once in Aruba, students were provided accommodation that was located in an area which wasn’t busy with tourist, this meant we had the chance to live amongst the local people and embrace a different culture. We had a timetable which was listed with a mixture of different activities to do, our main activities were working at the Donkey Sanctuary and Vets.

The Donkey Sanctuary included volunteers which were from different places in Europe, this meant we got the chance to learn about various different cultures. The Donkey Sanctuary was owned by a lady that provided us all with help and support needed during our stay. Task included maintaining the grounds, providing fresh water, fresh hay, pellets, medication and daily husbandry task for the chickens and Peacocks. Customers would visit the sanctuary in large tourist buses, the students would show the tourist around and introduce them to the donkeys, for some students this is a daunting task, but most students embrace this and feel more confident in themselves once complete.

The vets gave the students the chance to help prepare animals for operations, observe live surgery and consultations with customers that speak a different language which meant students had to try learn to understand and many more activities. This experience gave the potential vet nurse students a different one to compared to one gained in UK; The temperature is much hotter which can make health checking a challenge, culture around animal care is much different to the UK with many stray animals living on the streets, these animals are sometimes brought into the vets by the public. Students were able to share ideas to prevent stray animals being left on the streets, whilst the locals explained the reason for the increase in stray animals.

Students were giving the chance to research and find places to visit whilst on the island which we added to a shared timetable for all to see, we kept notes to make sure no student missed an activity for example some students planned to apply for vet nursing when back in England, we prioritised them for the vet nursing experience days whilst also making sure, all students had at least a chance to visit vets.

We got an opportunity to work at a goat sanctuary which was an added extra we wanted to participate in after working hours on an evening, we were able to be useful due to our knowledge in livestock keeping and really enjoyed sharing knowledge as well as students learning about the comparisons of keeping livestock in different countries and environment.

Skills learned from this project are;

  • Communication- We had the challenge of many different languages to understand (Papiamento, Dutch, Spanish) We also had many different accents due to most tourist being from different parts if America. Working with tourist and providing tours forced communication to happen, which was effective.
  • Time management- Due to having many activities on the timetable we had to use time wisely, we had to work out the timings of journeys to be on time for the next activity whilst also providing down-time.
  • Confidence and customer service- Some students would refuse to speak with customers due to not having the confidence to do so, but by the end of the project students were speaking with customers confidently and making new friends, which was a great skill to build on.
  • Building relationships- Students worked amongst volunteers from all over Europe which helped them build on new relationships they would never do without this opportunity.
  • CV- Students are now able to put this experience on their CV to stand out from other potential job seekers or University applications. Staff are able to update their CV’s, showing the responsibility and effort put in to provide students with a successful learning experience.

Thanks to Everything is Possible who organised the project, we had a successful project which will stay in our memories forever. Overall, this project provided all involved with a great experience professionally and personally, it is an experience not many people get to do and therefore is greatly appreciated.

Project part of Climb Higher, organised by Everything is Possible.
Project co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union – The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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