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

Here is what they have to say:

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Newton Rigg

Newton Rigg College – The VET project in Aruba by Chloe Walker

In February 2018, a group of six students and two accompanying members of staff from Newton Rigg College embarked on the Moving feet Opening Mind project in Aruba.

This project involved volunteering at the Donkey Sanctuary as well as the local veterinary practice and dog groomers.

The students worked alongside staff at the placements experiencing all aspects of the jobs and being able to be “hands-on” throughout.

In the lead up to the project, Everything is Possible supported the students. This started with an informative discussion on the available projects and what they entailed and what the students would get out of the projects. They then completed pre-departure training with the students discussing any worries, finding solutions, and giving advice and guidance so that the students could gain the most from their experience on the project. Everything is Possible supported throughout the project ensuring that every detail was dealt with appropriately to ensure smooth running. On return from the project, the evaluation day was valuable because students produced their own project of their experiences, in this case in the form of an Instagram blog. They presented this to other groups explaining what they had gained from the experience.

The students developed their personal and professional skills throughout the project. Their confidence levels improved dramatically which in turn allowed other skills to develop including communication, presenting and team work.

Working within the local community, the students got to explain to a local school what their life and education is like in the UK. They did this by completing a photographic presentation to local children and their teachers. The students also volunteered to complete a beach clean to help with local conservation. This was welcomed by the local community and the students received a letter of thanks from the local turtle conservation group for their efforts.

This project has enabled these students to experience different cultures, travelling extensively, work with different currencies, live and work together as a team, problem solve and work on own initiative i.e. getting out of their comfort zones!

All of the students are now coming to the end of their college course and are actively seeking employment or progressing onto higher education courses.  This opportunity has enabled their CV’s and applications to stand out from the crowd and has increased the young person’s confidence to enable them to GO for these opportunities.  Thank you.

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Askham

Askham Bryan college – The VET project in Malta by Simon Jepson

The project itself was at the tomasina cat sanctuary which is based within M-cast agricultural institute in Malta. The sanctuary is run primarily by Jane and Carmel with a few additional staff many of which are local volunteers. The cat sanctuary houses around 300+ cats at any one time and also provides a boarding facility to people from around the local area. Carmel was our main point of contact while over in Malta, however we also worked very closely with Jane  – both of whom supported, guided, recommended things to see/do and assisted us during our stay.

During the free-time from working the learners immersed themselves within a range of activities including visiting museums, cathedrals, Comino/Gozo, Mdina, Valetta, the mediteranneo, aquarium, horse riding at golden bay and many others. As they participated within a range of activities they managed to see the culture, religion, history and fun things to do while in Malta.

To get the learners ready for the project there were a number of training sessions put together by Everything Is Possible which included ice breaking activities to ensure the learners were comfortable together and able to work as a team. They also organised preparation sessions covering things such as what is expected of the learners in terms of behaviour and the duties they will perform at the sanctuary as well as what they may need to bring, what support is available to them while on the project and a range of other training to get them ready for the project. From a college point of view we made sure all learners met a number of times before going out on the projects to discuss activities they might like to do, what food they would like to eat, cleaning/cooking rotas, what working at the cat sanctuary would entail and what was expected/ what they would like to get from the project.

While on the project I believe the students gained a lot of experience from a professional environment such as time keeping and an in depth look at how an animal sanctuary works from a business viewpoint. Some of the learners had never left the country before the project commenced so it gave them a valuable opportunity they had never had before. While in Malta they had to get used to a strict time schedule, using the public transport system, dealing with members of the public and workers at the cats sanctuary, working within a different environment (temperature, people and culture), cooking for the group, shopping, cleaning and navigating themselves around the island.

As the cat sanctuary is mostly reliant on volunteers to assist them with the great work they do the learners had a significant impact on the team there and were hugely appreciative of their help. News travels quickly through the local community from word of mouth so the good reviews the owners and volunteers at the cat sanctuary gave our learners and vice versa would hopefully help to raise more awareness of the need for assistance there and how valuable projects like this can be for both parties. The learners have also expressed their desire to continue their volunteer work in areas such as animal rescues, environment agencies and beach clean-ups, both in the UK and abroad.

The learners on this project had a range of experiences from working at the cat sanctuary to exploring all that Malta has to offer and as they are all studying some form of animal course this project has been invaluable to them. As some of them even stated in their exhibition, this experience has helped them further their knowledge in a subject area in which they plan to pursue as a career in future. The learners all have huge potential to become well established within whichever path they choose in the animal industry and through this experience they are now considering a range of choices from volunteering to fundraising for smaller animal organisations.

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Kirklees

Kirklees College – The VET project in Martinique by Shem Kalabic

I have enjoyed a long career as a professional educator/sports lecturer and I have taken students on international projects or projects abroad, however, when the timing and opportunity presented itself to work with Moving Feet Opening Mind we couldn’t turn it down and I am glad we didn’t .
On student’s behalf and on behalf of Kirklees College Sports department we would like to say a huge THANK YOU to Moving Feet Opening Mind project for positively changing students’ lives and for making them better individual as a result of this project.  

Our project started with planning and preparation phase, and once again Everything is Possible played a huge part in planning, preparation and ongoing support.  Part of our planning phase involved students spending time with 2 members of host organisation, learning the language, learning about the culture, food, music, festivals and how to best utilise their time during students stay in Martinique.  Students found the language learning sessions challenging but at the same time it was fun and enjoyable, they were fascinated by the culture and couldn’t not wait to visit Martinique. Everything is Possible also arranged ongoing support session/presentation to make learners aware of the expectations, their rights and responsibilities and what to expect from the project – Godfrey, thank you for all your hard work, advice, support and guidance, you were brilliant.

Final part of planning and preparation phase was for learners to attend compulsory training organised and delivered by everything is Possible where they participated in 3 workshops looking at culture, tradition, values, rights responsibilities and they also had opportunity to ask questions if they had any issues or concerns.

Now on to the project itself, during our 2 weeks stay in Martinique we worked with Youth in the Town organisation, delivering and coaching variety of sport session.  These sessions involved coaching young kid’s skills and techniques in variety of sports including, football, basketball, gymnastics, athletics and rugby.  We would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the Youth in Town organisation on their professionalism, hard work, support and making this project and unforgettable experience for our students. It has had an unrecognisable impact on our students as they can’t stop talking about how good this project was.  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 by the Youth in Town organisation
● Initiative & Interpersonal Skills – organised different team activities with own team and Youth in Town to develop team morale, cohesion, to learn about local culture, tradition, food and highlight of this was Intercultural Evening
● Motivation, Communication & Leadership Skills – highly prepared, enthusiastic and motivated for each and every coaching session that they had to deliver, overcame language barrier and challenges by communicating using basic French phrases and excellent body language and delivering fun, effective, safe and inspiring coaching sessions across different sports.

Because students were flexible, open minded and wanting to contribute to amazing project I feel they have had a really positive impact in the local community, especially with young kids and coaches that they have worked with, giving them different experiences, teaching and learning about different cultures and languages, sharing common ideas, values and beliefs.

Based on students’ evaluation and feedback I feel that this project and experience will have a long lasting impact on their lives and later on in their careers, it will make them all around better individuals, it will make them good citizens of society that are aware of peoples different values, beliefs and traditions, it will make them strong campaigners for better and healthier life through similar project and I am certain it will make them more employable because they have learned so much form this project.

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Wigan

Wigan Warriors – The VET project in Martinique (1st – 14th March 2018) by Kevin Perry

In March 2018 I lead a group of 10 students and 2 staff to the Caribbean Island of Martinique for a two-week cultural enrichment and work experience project.  Our students are all focused on becoming qualified in the sports coaching and personal fitness training industries.  This type of once in a lifetime project was an unbelievable opportunity for our young people to experience a new part of the world, immerse themselves in a different culture and learn new skills and strategies to take on into their future lives.

Prior to departure we/our group received an exceptional level of support and guidance from our partners ‘Everything is Possible’.  Guidance on preparing our students for their venture with multiple sessions on cultural do’s & don’t’s, essentials skills and even classroom based French language lessons delivered by native islanders.  The support from ‘Everything is Possible’ continued throughout our project whilst resident in Martinique.  Constant communication to check all was going to plan and liaison with our partners on the island ‘Youth in the Town Association’.  Right through to an evaluation day to consolidate all outcomes and pull together a greater understanding between all learners.

A real positive aspect of the project was that we were able to work together with our partners to construct a working two-week timetable to ensure all activities matched up with the skills our students were needing to develop.  For example, work activities in rugby and football coaching to young players.  Links directly to their qualification requirements.  Cultural and history visits around the island, along with the requirement of independent living, financial budgeting and time management etc, all important life skills young people need to develop.

I believe and witnessed during the two weeks, our young people learning how to plan and implement sessions, cope with challenges situations with regards to the language barrier, finding ways to communicate their points, strategizing to level to achieve their outcomes.  Self confidence has grown in many, eyes have been opened to a world and life outside of Wigan, England.

I hope and feel that our learners have left a positive impression on the people, young people of Martinique.  They had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside people young and old.  Overall an incredible experience for the group and one that will live with them for the rest of their lives and no doubt enrich their futures in whatever industry they pursue, home or abroad.

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Wigan

Wigan Warriors – The VET project in Martinique by Shane Eccles

In march 2018 we visited the island of Martinique in the Caribbean. This was a project for 10 of our sports students, who are studying to work in the sports and fitness industry. This was a fantastic opportunity for the students to visit a different country and experience a different culture alongside this the students had opportunities to practice the skills they have been learning in college. We worked with an organisation called Youth in the Town who were excellent to work with. The staff were very welcoming and hospitable. Youth in the Town were able to plan various activities for the students over our time on the placement. The students were involved in various sports coaching sessions across the island where they had to use the skills they have been learning in their college studies. The students were also given opportunities to learn about the Martinique culture through meetings with young people from the island and engaging in culture days where they discussed language and also foods and hobbies.

Before heading off to Martinique we had a number of sessions in preparation for this project. As part of the students vocational studies they had lots of sports coaching practice where they were coaching different groups to work on their coaching skills. Alongside their vocational studies we also had a week-long visit from two sports coaches from Martinique.  The students spent time with the two coaches and did a lot of work on the French language and learning terms they would need to use within their coaching sessions. This was very helpful as it gave the students an insight and preparation of the language and what to expect when they arrived and started coaching in Martinique.

The students did a lot of sports coaching whilst in Martinique on rugby which is a sports they are very familiar with but also delivered sports coaching in other sports (Football, Gymnastics & Water Sports). This helped the students gain valuable experience of coaching in various settings and also had a difficulty in the language barrier especially when working with younger children who weren’t able to speak a lot of English. The students were observed on their final practical coaching session whilst delivering in Martinique which put a lot of pressure on them to deliver a good coaching session working with children of a different language and culture.

From this project the students have gained a lot of valuable skills, I feel the students have gained skills in two areas, they have gained life skills and also professional skills. The students had responsibilities in the accommodation of cooking and cleaning. Over the two weeks the students devised a plan and ensured the tasks were split evenly between each of them. The students had to make sure these tasks were done and this is something that some of them are not used to doing at home. The students demonstrated a lot of development in this area and I believe learned skills that will help them prepare for life after college. The students also developed their professional skills, they were able to use the skills they have bene learning in college and apply them in practical situations. The students had to plan and deliver sports coaching sessions to a variety of groups and also work on trying to incorporate French language into these sessions. It was a pleasure to see the students being able to plan and deliver sessions and also develop their knowledge of language and build good relationships with the young people they were working with.

I feel our students worked very well with the local rugby club as this is a passion of the students who participated in this project. I feel the students worked with the club and were able to pass on advice and coaching ideas to the local coaches. The students also delivered individual presentations on their likes and foods they had brought from home. They were able to spread the culture of the United Kingdom and specifically the north of England giving an insight to the young people of Martinique what life is like in the U.K

This was a fantastic opportunity for our students and is something that they wont forget. They were able to take part in professional development by delivering coaching sessions in a completely new and unknown environment to participants who speak a different language. This experience on its own will help them towards achieving their future career aspirations as they are able to draw on that experience and demonstrate confidence in their coaching and also competence from delivering coaching sessions in these difficult circumstances. The students were also given the opportunity to try new things which they would never have the opportunity to do at home, the students were involved in Yole Boat Sailing, which is a traditional form of sailing in Martinique and isn’t practiced anywhere else in the world. The students also benefitted from free time by taking part in activities such as swimming with wild turtles. Overall this has been a fantastic opportunity for our students and they have been able to benefit from various activities from delivering coaching sessions to local French speaking students, working with local young people on cultural exchanges and enjoying free time in the Caribbean climate and culture.

I would definitely advise anybody who was offered this opportunity to grasp it with both hands as it is a fantastic professional and social development opportunity for students and staff to be involved in.

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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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