HEROES in Spain

From 26th March to 31st March, H3a travelled to Caravaca de la Cruz for their part of the Erasmus+ project: HEROES- Helping the Earth Restore Order through Environmental Sustainability. The group were treated to an unforgettable week of activities surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals.

The week was set at our partner school IES Ginés Pérez Chirinos in Caravaca de la Cruz and we were joined for the last time by our English partner school, Excelsior Academy in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. (Unfortunately, the UK has withdrawn from the Erasmus+ scheme).

The pupils were set to work on day one to get to know one another and explore the Spanish school and learn about it from the Spanish pupils. Once the pupils were put into groups it was time to delve into a refresher about the goals and what we had started in Newcastle.

With a typical Spanish lunch and the feeling of a much-needed siesta, the pupils got to work in their groups, preparing and getting ready for the days ahead. In the evening, we headed off for some fun in the beautiful park, Las Fuentes del Marquez, with babbling brooks, nut-trees and plenty of space for our Tik-tokkers and football fanatics to enjoy their free-time.

On day two, we were set for a beach day like no other! It was certainly not a holiday, when we heard about the environmental crisis of Mar Meñor and its fight to keep alive with the ever-increasing changes in the climate, the endangered status of the seahorses and the invasion of the algae, which is sadly reducing the oxygen levels in the water and as the water evaporates, the salinity is rising to almost 50%.  Once the learning was completed, the pupils were able to wade out in the sea, however, they would have to walk at least 1.5 km to be able to enjoy a swim. The water lapped only up to their shins. The maximum depth is between 5-7 metres, far out from the coast.

Day three brought us to La Junquera, a sustainable farm on the border of the province of Grenada. This farm was a shining example of how farming can be sustainable and at the same time provide crops year round. The farm grafts indigenous plants with plants that need to be able to withstand the long hot days. Nut-trees (pistachio, walnut, hazelnut and almond), herbs from sage, oregano, rosemary and lavender were planted as far as the eye could see. These herbs are harvested for their essential oils. Their fragrances are more powerful due to the fact that there is so little water used in their growth. After a walk around the estate, the pupils got to work, planting 600 fir trees, which will provide shelter for the wandering sheep and cattle and for other crops that like the shade better to grow.

With lunch outside at a village square, we headed back to school to write up about our learning and then headed off for a well-being Body Combat class, where the battle was only to keep up with the boxing fitness instructor.

Our last day was one that will remain engrained in the pupils’ minds forever, as we worked to a tight deadline to get a decalogue written and learnt and a manifesto rehearsed in three languages.

The mayor welcomed us to the community hall and the ceremony began in full view of the television cameras and reporters. With an opening dance to Robert Miles’s Children, the show began for the Mayor and invited guests. The impact of the week was clear in the presentations from the pupils from the three countries with their demands for a cleaner planet. Once the certificates were awarded  by the mayor, the protest march to the town hall could start. The police stopped the traffic and escorted us to the town hall square, where our very own Loïs, appeared on the balcony at the townhall and read the Dutch manifesto after the Spanish one was read and before the English version.

Once the procession and manifesto had been read, it was time for yet another three-course lunch and the farewell party.

The project was a great success, thanks to the great organisation of the teachers at Caravaca and our DLE pupils, who really were a credit to us all.

In five weeks, it’ll be our turn to host both schools and complete the project that was written before the Corona Pandemic and close what has been a most valuable theme for our pupils to use to rediscover their interpersonal skills and build on their international competences. Well done, H3a! We’re proud of you!