This year our school has been chosen for a partner in two European Union Erasmus Plus projects. The aims of the projects are meeting students and teachers from other countries in EU, exchanging the experiences, improving our knowledge and presenting our country, region, town and school. It was a great pleasure and honour for me that I was chosen to take part in the „EMBRACE“ project. Together with our school pedagogue, the headmaster and my school friend Dora Klaić I travelled to Birmingham, UK.

We started our journey in Višnjevac, and we went by car to Belgrade where we took the plane for Frankfurt, and then for Birmingham. It was the first time I flew by plane. I was fascinated by the beauty of the sky. It was a great experience to land in Frankfurt, the biggest European airport. I don’t think I could ever imagine how big it is, until I saw it myself. In order to catch the flight for Birmingham, we had to take a bus, a train and run a lot. Our excitement grew as we took our seats in the plane for Birmingham. I was thinking about all the people who would meet us there, about children who live there, about so many things I was about to see.

Our hosts welcomed us on the Birmingham airport. My host was a teacher, Regina Darcy, from the Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School, our host school. She teaches cooking. I met her family: her husband John and her sons, Eidin and Kiren. They were so kind and caring. I felt so comfortable in their home. Mrs Darcy’s family hosted two other girls, who also took part in the project: Klaudia Hyzorek from Poland and Sofia Illikainen from Finland. We spent our free time hanging around, exchanging information about our countries, customs, people, teachers, schools… I was proud to find out that everybody knew a lot about our Croatia: about Dubrovnik, our beautiful sea, our famous football players. A student of the host school Sofi Haroon and her brother Sami were keeping me company while going round Birmingham. It is a city of a great history, beautiful buildings, big malls. Birmingham is an industrial city with the population of more than a million. It is the second biggest city in Great Britain. I had especially great time in Quasar Elite entertainment centre. I met a lot of young, relaxed and smiling people fond of dancing and having fun. I was among so many new people, so different, and yet so similar when it comes to fun, playing and hanging around. I realized that under this big sky we are all equal. I felt like a real European and the citizen of the world.

The day spent in Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School, which counts 1400 students, was rich with interesting activities and the kindness of our hosts. I was surprised by the size of the school, by the equipment in the classrooms. The school has a swimming pool and a beautiful large canteen for students. All the students wear the same uniforms, as well as the same PE clothes. I really liked that. I specially enjoyed taking part in baking muffins with teacher Regina, which we made for the project participants.

Our host and the project coordinator Polly Saggu organized one-day-trip to London for all of us. Streets of London are unbelievably crowded. We first visited the Houses of Parliament, the centre of the political life in the UK. The parliament meetings are public and everybody can watch them from the gallery, which we also did. Later on we saw Big Ben, which is the most popular tourist attraction in the city. There were many other great places: Parliament Square, The Cenotaph, 10 Downing Street, Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, Trafalgar Square, The Mall, Buckingham Palace, Imperial War Museums, Churchill War Rooms and Westminster Abbey. Our tour guide was Karen O’Connor, the teacher from the host school.

It was all so impressive! I was surrounded by famous buildings that we learned about at school.

Our trip was soon at the end. I was a little bit sad because we were leaving, but at the same time impatient because I wanted to share with my friends all my experiences, excitements and unforgettable moments from this trip.

New acquaintances, friends, their way of life and education enriched my life. I wish I could see them once again and give them a big hug. I believe my wish will come true!

Here I would also like to thank all our donors who helped us with their donations and who gave a great contribution to this and other future journeys: Saponia Osijek d.d., Kandit d.o.o., Belje d.d., Velpro centar Osijek, Sygma d.o.o., Školska knjiga, Merkur osiguranje and Grad Osijek (The City of Osijek). All the Croatian products we took with us to Birmingham and gave to the teachers and students of other partner countries presented our country, our region, our town and our school. Thanks a lot!

Marin Rašić, student of class 7a, Primary school Višnjevac

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