The final day together

Hello from (not so sunny) Norway! It was our final day at the school today and so it meant that the exhibition had finally reached us. After another early start we all got to school for 8:15, and those who had not yet finished set off retaking, choosing and/or editing photos, and finishing off descriptions to match. However, some of us had already finished and so set about finding things to keep us busy, such as table football, or ‘psych’; a game in which we could get to know each other more, and perhaps expose some deep hidden stories, that would make ya belly-laugh. The time soon came for a (questionably) well deserved lunch break, and so we set off to the shops to find some classic Norwegian snacks and drinks.

Soon enough, the exhibition had been set up, and it was time to view. And it was outstanding. So much thought and care had gone into each photo, each description, and the products really captured the passion of each individual. How each person thought, felt, and what they really loved. But what, for me, was most amazing was the fact that together we had accomplished something amazing. And all these voices and passions together infused to show this overwhelming sense of love, and pride, towards everything written. It truly captured the essence of these trips aims- that we can be so much more powerful together.

Soon after, we had to say goodbye to the Reunion team, as their flight left in the afternoon. Gillian, one of the leaders from Norway, said some words before they left, and then it was time for them to go. With both sadness at their departure but pride from what we’d created with them, we waved goodbye.

And just like that, it was free-time! While some chose to stay back at the school, or go home for a bit, me and a group of English and Norwegian friends set off for a protest against climate change in the town center! When we got there everyone was having fun- there was music, there were banners- people were making themselves heard, together. Although for us non-Norwegian speakers, it was a struggle to understand what was going on! So, while our Norwegian friends stayed to protest, we quickly snuck off to get some more food. By this point it was about 3:30, and so while those who lived too far away for there to be any point in going home went back to school, most of us went back to our hosts via bus (which still holds beautiful views despite the short journeys).

We didn’t have long at home though, for by 5/5:30 we were back at school! This time though, it was time to party. With a table-tennis table out, Mariokart and Fifa on the whiteboards and chess all set up, everyone quickly found something to do, and plenty of people to do it with, and set off to party in style. But, following the trend I seem to be creating on today’s blog, it was the food we were all waiting for. And together we had pulled it off. Made from all the hosts and teachers combined, we had a buffet-style feast on our hands. I focussed more on the cake aspect, and managed to work my way through a bit of every cake offered, but (this may come as a shock to those who know me), I did pull off some salad too! It all was amazing, and I don’t think we could have had a better farewell party to thank our hosts, our leaders, the school, and the other countries for joining us on this journey.

And so that was it. The time to say our farewells quickly came around, and a few from the Turkey and England groups stood up to close and say thank you. And then we said some teary goodbyes, as we said goodbye to particularly some of our Norwegian friends for perhaps the last time, who we had gotten close to on the English trip when we met them first.

Goodbyes are often sad. And when we know the chances of seeing them again are slim, they can be especially hard. But knowing what we achieved, and the memories that we’ll forever hold, made it that little bit easier. This beautiful place and these beautiful people will forever hold a place in our hearts, and I can’t wait to see how we’ll let it change more lives too.

But for now, we sleep. And with the first lie-in in a while, we sleep some more. And hopefully, tomorrow we swim (in the rain?!) and eat pizza with our hosts for one last time. And maybe shop. Who knows.

By Gemma

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There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!

Hallo all In the UK. Today is day 4 of this incredible journey into Norway. Much like every day, it begun the same; Getting up early. I’ve spent the last week waking up to a “pirate invasion” alarm. It’s a very interesting experience. Thanks Lewis! Some of us have been travelling to college by Bus this week which is new for all of us. Busses have seatbelts which is a little new but after realising everything is in Norwegian, We’ve taken time to learn the busses we need to take and confident on our route now.

This morning started with our photo workshop. Over the past few days, we have been participating in a portrait workshop with the other countries as part of our trip. We have all been pared with someone from another nation. We had to take different pictures of all angles and heights to try and try capture a fantastic picture. Today we are editing and bringing together the best photos we have of each student to be used in an exhibition tomorrow on Friday. After editing the photos we went for lunch.

For the afternoon entertainment we took a cable train up Floyen. This is a mountain where there are 3 paths to chose from. As we climbed all eager to go for a hike, The weather took a turn for the worst. However, there is no such thing as weather; Just bad clothing and thus we as a group decided that team UK would still take the longest hiking path to the very top. This was a 4 Kilometer hike one way so a total of 8K. This started off as an easy stroll. Granted it was all uphill (or should i say up mountain) but with the sun screaming from behind the clouds we were happy enough to continue. We split into little walking groups mostly by accident but they provided different experiences for us all. Again, the weather didn’t improve and the higher we got the colder the air became and the stronger the winds howled. The view was fenominal as we climbed. All cameras were whipped out and the filming began. Much like yesterday, a lot of filming was done for the video that Lewis is currently editing next to me. Many of us got selfies no matter how messy our wet hair was. Maya kindly said we looked like “Drowned rats”. The whole of Bergen was visible all be it a little bit covered in mist. It soon became aparent that some of our coat choices had failed us and the water had started to creep through. By the time we had reached the top, the rain was freezing in a hail like rain. The wind had also picked up considerably. This was not really forseen and some of our coats were inadequet to deal with this weather, especially mine! This meant that even though we are acustomed to the rain in the UK, we became very cold very quickly. Many of the group rushed down the mountain to get to warmth yet a small group of us knew that wed never see these views again so despite the cold, we took a leasurly stroll to breathe in the breathe taking views. As we came down the mountain the mist hard grown thicker and the clouds had lowered but the view of the trees and the mountains is something i still cannot quite understand. Pictures cannot capture the sheer beauty of this county. we traveled down the mountain and got a little snack and a hot drink before we braved into the wet again. We spent a small time looking through the shops yet we were mostly soaked to the bone. So back down the cable cars and straight back to college where we were once again collected by our hosts. Overall we all learned a valuable lesson. Don’t wear jeans when on a hike – especially in the rain!!!

Tomorrow is our final day with the college and will be our photo exhibition thata we have worked very hard for so its going to be a hectic yet rewarding day. By Joel

The earring and the waterfall

Hi there back in England, the we have had a wonderful time over the past few days and we have been so busy that we haven’t had time to report a blog so far. After arriving on Sunday afternoon, all of us were picked up by our host families and taken back where we spent our first night away from the team. Some of us were in the centre of town and some had to travel by boat for over an hour to reach our homes!! The next time we met was Monday morning in school and we spent the next two days participating in photography workshops interacting with foreign students from Turkey and the French reunion Island and generally getting to know Norway- this included a tour around Bergen and an activity where we had to find different landmarks and take the most creative picture we could outside of them and even some of us did a human pyramid… thanks for the idea, Paul…!! I think possibly one of the highlights of the last two days would have to be getting involved in a Chinese class taught in Norway to an English group of students- we have never been more confused! Or another highlight would have to be performing the YMCA to the Queen of Norway who proceeded to go inside after witnessing our atrocious dancing!

So today is the middle of the week and so we have always had half of our time here. We all went on a full day excursion today including the other students from all around the world. After arriving at school that normal time we all departed on a coach and headed down to the fjords!! Has to be said these coaches were a slight improvement on Crawley luxury?! After about an hour and a half of driving we stopped in a little village called Voss (and no it is not where the posh water comes from…). Although it was very foggy and misty we didn’t let it get our spirits down and still insisted on taking a picture on a giant sign spelling out the word Voss when some of us found it very difficult to get down even though we managed to get up there- oh dear. After a necessary toilet break and an even more necessary helping of biscuits on the coach thanks to Will, we continue to drive for a further hour also where we reached our second destination.

At this point it was raining very very heavily- even a raincoat was not going to help particularly; Joel was definitely smart enough to wear his walking boots though!! Phones were taken out to take photos when shortly after Paul said to us to stand in a line and I’ll close your eyes and I’ll hold onto one another’s shoulders. I don’t think anyone thought we could 100% trust him especially as we were now 800 m above sea level and there was a very steep drop down the side of the mountain. He let us to a silver railing and then told us to open our eyes; in front of us were three massive waterfalls, our photos were almost as impressive as the screensavers you can use on Microsoft or Windows?!

We were allowed to stay there for nearly an hour and so some of us decided to eat our sandwiches on the top of the cliff- we never thought we would be able to say we have done that!! Others decided that it would be a brilliant idea to throw their jewellery off the edge… if anyone wants a matching pair of earrings in 1000 years time after getting washed up, contact Maya.

The next drive was the longest and took nearly an hour and a half and one minor car crash later to take us to our final destination of the day. By this point I should mention some of us had counted up to 46 tunnels!! We were all cold and tired but we all looked forward to this one as we had heard you are able to walk down to the waterfall. even if it was a trek up to the waterfall when we finally arrived it was definitely worth it. After almost being deafened by the immense sound of the water we took many photos and thought it would be a brilliant idea to take more photos right next to where the waterfalls; At 3:45 we headed back to the coach where the driver took us back to Bergen and we all headed home with our hosts for an evening which I can imagine will consist of Norway’s Got Talent, RuPaul’s Drag Race and a lot of sleep.

It’s a global school we live in.

Tuesday dawned slightly cooler and cloudier than yesterday but nothing would stand in the way of Chelsie wearing her shorts 😉and there was still the promise of a good day ahead. After breakfast at the hotel staff met students at the school at 8.15 where they were given the opportunity to spend more time working on their ‘stories’ via their photographic portraits.

At 10 am it was off to lessons. A French lesson for the students from French Reunion where they gave a presentation to the class; and a Chinese, and then an English lesson for the representatives from TLA. We learned how to say hello (ni hao) and thank you (Xie Xie )in Chinese. Then two (slightly ) willing volunteers stood at the front of the class to assist the teacher with a geography lesson. Not sure about the geographical accuracy but everyone enjoyed it. The students from TLA joined in with a couple of rounds of quizlet with the class and even won a game! The English teacher had produced a series of getting to know you questions in advance for all the students. There was a large variety of different nationalities within the room and soon everyone was chatting away. Again it was interesting to hear all the different stories.

After lunch it was off to the science museum for some interactive fun. Lots to try out, test abilities and challenge those braincells. All the students from each nation enjoyed themselves. Finally it was back to school for a slightly earlier finish as everyone needs to save their energy for the long day tomorrow. Tomorrow, the trip to the waterfalls and fjords awaits us all. We cannot wait ….

More than a photo!

Today started with a stroll to school, where all students arrived by foot and bus. TLA students all speaking well of there host family’s and there first night in Bergen (theatres and fun fairs).

Today we all met again for the final nation and meetings this great project. Our hosts spoke about Bergen and introduced members involved in the programme including Lisa the headmaster.

The morning started with a guided tour of the school, and then being split into groups to allow everyone to engage with different students/adults. The task involved was for everyone in each group to work together to read a map and find certain landmarks, once found a creative photo had to be taken involving all members for the group…watch this space!

The afternoon consisted of a photography workshop with Mel Bruford https://www.melanieburford.com/about/index where students were shown not just photography, but photography journalism which employs images in order to show a story. Students were then shown how to take a portrait photo by using effective lighting, background and poses. This is part of an ongoing project for Fridays exhibition where students have been tasked with pairing up with another student from a different nation, finding out what is important to them and creating a story through a portrait picture they have taken! Lots of posing and editing and listening to each other’s stories across the nations. Such a great day out. The student went off to their hosts and the adults caught up with Game of Thrones and ate out together. Too first day!

Team TLA Norway. More Powerful Together part 4

A top team of 8 TLA sixth for students and 3 staff arrived safe and excited in Bergen today. Fast flight and swift host collection meant the staff got to “risk assess” 😉 the city all afternoon. Busy week ahead looking at gender stereotypes as we continue our journey of challenging prejudice and discrimination. Working with our partners from Norway, Turkey and French Reunion a great week awaits.

What this trip has meant to me…

I asked the team to summarise what this week has meant to them. The following words are unedited!

Pippi

This week has meant so much to me. I have been able to learn and be educated on the cultural history of La Reunion. I got to learn about the slavery past on the island and how much it has done for the business and knowledge of the sunny place. Due to the previous visit in March from the Reunion students I was over the moon to see my friends again in their home country, I got to meet all there friends, see there school and how it functions and discover what there life if like. Going in to classes on Monday was a different experience, seeing how different their lessons are to ours at home. It was up lifting when we would meet the students at breaks and get to know them and to see all of them smiling would pick up my mood. During this week I have become closer with my friends from La Reunion and made new ones with the Norway, Turkey, and France. As a team we have become closer and made strong bonds and it means a lot that I can go home knowing I have friends that I can trust and talk to. Learning about the discrimination of reunion was touching, to think that people we treated in history the way they were was unbelievable but it was said ‘without slavery reunion island wouldn’t be were it was today’ that is a strong statement that I agree with. Going to the lagoon on Tuesday was a we’ll needed day in the sun, some of us went snorkelling and saw a wider array of colourful, tropical fish. It was so relaxing. Climbing the volcano was an amazing site and I am now a north faced. This week has been an once in a life time experience and I want to say thank you to Toni, Paul and all people involved in the project

Cody

This week has been a big adventure full of ups and downs mostly ups . We have discovered parts of the world we would have never have discovered without Paul, he has been an amazing person to come away with and also Toni this trip wouldn’t have been the same without these two we all love them to bits and this trip wouldn’t have been the same without these two. This trip for me personally has been such fun and full of new experience and I have done nothing like this before and has really given me and different look on life and how others live there’s compared to how we live ours , the week has also been very educational as well as fun as we have learnt the history of “la reunion” which has given me a real in site on what this little island went through and what the natives on this island went through to where it is to this day. I would just like to say a Massive thank you for this amazing experience and to all the people who have made it such a great trip.

Beth

This week has been so amazing , we have had our ups and downs but I think overall it has been something I will never forget , I have made so many new friends which I am sad too leave and so many memories and couldn’t have wished for better friends to of experienced this with, we have all opened up a lot and made friendships that will last forever, we have put up with eachother even after the sleepless nights and even with crying of laughter. Thank you to everyone that has made this time and project special, but we couldn’t have done any of it without Paul and Toni so a massive thank you too you both for putting up with all of us. I have learnt so much this week and feel like we have all got differnt things to take away from this even bringing and putting on factor 50 suncream on holiday 😂 Both the country’s we have visited are absolutely beautiful and the people that live hear are truley lovely , we have been looked after dearly and have been welcomed so warmly. However I think we all can’t wait to be back in our own beds again and with our family’s as we miss them alotttttt! , thanks for following this experience with us all xx

Toni

I won’t say this week has been a roller coaster ride. But it has. I won’t say I have been on an incredible journey. But I have. I won’t say memories from this trip will stay with me forever. But they will. Clichés do not do justice to the 10 days I have spent with the TLA students; as well as the week spent with our host nation, other partners and ALL the students from French reunion, Turkey and Norway. Yes there have been ups and downs but I have seen our students (TLA )grow over the week into fine, resilient young people. I want to say thank you for sharing this opportunity with me and welcoming me into your very close knit group. TLA should be very proud of the year 10’s who accompanied me and Paul on this trip . I know I am.

Arik

This week has been an amazing experience and I have learnt so much. It was cool to see how they learn and what they learn the day we went to school with them. Walking 7 miles to the volcano ( to sadly see no lava ) was alot of effort but i did it and it was a once in a life time experience, but id never do it again. I have actually now learnt the meaning behind the North Face brand, and can officially be called a North Facer, with pride. I learn how sugar and vanilla is produced, and have decided that the smell of sugar being produced is horrid. Experiencing living with my host was amazing and I’m so grateful for how lovely they were. Thank you to Paul and Toni for looking after us and for making sure where we were saying was okay. My nose looks like tiger bread. I have now learnt that everyone can burn. Including me.

Dingo

This week has been an amazing experience for me . All week has been filled with laughter and happiness , we’ve had our ups and downs but we found a way to fix them .Ive seen some of the most amazing landscapes .This trip would not be the same if Paul and Toni didn’t pick our team .Thank you to Paul for arranging this trip and thank you to Toni for coming on it with us and making it such an experience. I hope every one had a good time . We’ve all come so close in these last couple of days and I would like to keep it that way .

Lucy

This week has been a journey that’s meant a lot to me. It included many ups and downs but I feel like I’ve come out of it as a different and stronger person. I’m so grateful for the group of people who I’ve experienced this with as well as the team who’ve made this whole trip possible. I think this week has lead to some incredible bonds being made with people from all the country’s involved as we shared laughter, tears and songs. Going to the school included many emotions but it was so interesting to experience the different ways education happens. Seeing a waterfall, being drenched by the rain, sleeping on the coach, as well as teaching the other nations worship songs meant we made many close friends, old and new. To me this week has meant growing as a person and altogether as a team, we’ve learnt about culture first hand as well as some valuable lessons like wearing suncream. I would like to say a huge thank you to Paul and Toni as without them this whole experience wouldn’t be possible, they helped so much to make us feel comfortable.

Merci beaucoup,

Lucy x

Honor

This week has been incredible and eventful. I feel like as a team and myself have grown and learnt so much and experience things may never have expected. Seeing the waterfall, falling asleep on the coach, walking and laughing and falling over, snorkelling in the lagoon, eating at the traditional restaurant be getting payed by arik to try some good food, learning about the vanillary and seeing where ‘committed workers’ were held made me think of how diverse in history the reunion island is. Getting through problems together, as friends and as a team has lead us closer together and I really hope it will stay that way. I would like to say the biggest thank you to my dad and Toni for being there for us and for looking after us amazingly and making sure we drank and ate and for sorting out the problems and worries we’ve had. Burning, laughing, singing worship songs, crying, chatting, walking have made this trip amazing and a once in a lifetime experience. Merci beaucoup

Millie

This week has been incredible. I have been waiting for this to happen for a long time since I became very close to the people who came to England, and so going back to the Reunion Island was very exciting but also was scary. Mauritius was an amazing way to start this trip, all of us got along so well and had such an amazing time visiting all of the beautiful parts of the island. We met some amazing people, ate some delicious food and saw some once in a lifetime views, which I will never forget.As we boarded the plane to Reunion Island I thought I was honestly going to cry at the thought of seeing all of my friends again. When we landed I found out that my host; who was also one of the people I had already become very close too, was at the airport waiting for me and I practically ran through the airport to go and meet her. It was a truly moving experience for me as I have never felt this way about meeting a group of people again before. And then the nerves started, and I began asking myself questions about the culture and what it would be like as I was being separated from my friends. The first two days I struggled a lot, but as the week went on I had the most incredible time. I really enjoyed getting to understand the history of the Island and how it became popular, as well as seeing how they keeps these traditions going. The people and the friends that I made really filled me with happiness, everyone that I became close with accepted me and was so friendly this made my experience a lot easier as after our activities with my English friends; I got to go and see the French Reunion friends that I made and got too see even more of the Island; my favourite part of this was going to the night market; listening to the phenomenal music being played and aroma filling the air it really made my time here. Although this week was challenging, it is one I will never forget, I have learnt so much from this project, which I will treasure forever, I have loved it, thank you