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International Exchange to Hamm, Germany

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At 7:30 am on Sunday 4th March 2018 a group of thirteen students and four staff from the Pathfinder Vocational Centre and Key Stage 4 met at a rather snowy Southfield site.  Not letting the Beast from the East and school closures dampen their spirits they departed for Manchester Airport amid an atmosphere filled with excitement and relief.   For some it was their first time flying and in a busy airport environment but the high-spirited group showed no real sign of nerves and handled security checks and passport control in a very admirable way, it must be added that the staff at Manchester Airport were very accommodating and made this as hassle free as possible.  

Arriving in Germany we felt all was well and were greeted with some sunshine and temperatures of a balmy 15 degrees. All was well, that was until the luggage hatch popped open during the journey to the Hostel, leaving Mr Gilbody to run down the Autobahn to retrieve a case, much to the amusement of the students on the coach! 

When we arrived at the hostel in Hamm (Bradford's German twin city), where we were greeted by our colleagues from Alfred-Delp-Schule and treated to some much needed coffee and cake, the first item of a very busy itinerary.  The main project undertaken on the visit was in the form of a theatre project, collaborating with students from Alfred-Delp-Schule and a local theatre company.  This told the chilling story of Lucy, a girl who disappeared from the Sylverberg Hostel where we were staying 100 years ago.  It used stage performance, audio & visual recordings and shadow theatre to create a fantastic end product which was performed to staff and students of Alfred-Delp-Schule.

There was also chance in the week to visit the school site at Alfred-Delp-Schule and participate in vocational lessons such as woodwork, sewing, trips to the supermarket and navigation around the local area. The evening activities were also fantastic with visits to a trampoline park in Dortmund, a local restaurant and the incredible Maximare swimming complex with slides, wave pool and outdoor heated salt pool. 

All in all the students and staff had an amazing trip and were fantastic ambassadors for the school.  It was great to see students overcoming language barriers to form friendships and work together. The hospitality from our German colleagues was second to none as we really wanted for nothing.  Returning to school safely and happily, the students went home very tired but with many memories that will stay with them forever.

Opportunities like this are fantastic for our students and it was amazing to see them grow more confident, resilient and independent with every day that passed on the trip. Thanks to all parents, students and staff who supported this residential.  We look forward to continuing our relationship with our partners at the Alfred Dep Schule.  

Written by Tom Gilbody, trip lead teacher.