Monday 16 January
After arriving at school together, the Norwegian students went to attend their regular classes whereas the French students were given an introduction to Norway followed by a guided tour of the school by Ulrik and Gard, students from the school’s Travel Business class. Afterwards, the French students attended an English class with Merek Cooper, whose station-based lesson took them through a variety of interactive exercises about the British Isles, covering everything from geography and historical events to sayings from Shakespeare and regional accents. At lunch in the school’s restaurant, the French students were officially welcomed by Principal Kersti Kelder and enjoyed a traditional Norwegian salmon dish prepared and served by students from the school’s Restaurant and Food Production program.
For the second half of the day, both the French and Norwegian students gathered in the auditorium together with students from English 1 and from the Politics and Human Rights class. Jens Ola Lundstad, head of English and foreign languages, opened the session by looking at the topic of political and civic engagement from a historical perspective and exploring the different ways and areas in which young people’s engagement manifests itself today. Invited speakers Katia Busuttil from Unge Venstre (the Liberal Party’s youth wing), Sivert Leirbakk from Unge Høyre (the Conservative Party’s youth wing), Åsne Mjelde Refsum from Natur og Ungdom (Young Friends of the Earth Norway), and Erle Kåråsen Lunde, leader of the school’s student council, spoke about their own personal journeys to becoming actively engaged in political and civic issues, why young people’s engagement in various issues is so crucial to society, and the many different ways in which young people today can contribute. A Q&A session followed, in which the students asked lots of probing questions that among other things uncovered interesting similarities and differences between Norway and France. The discussion continued over refreshments afterwards. At the final summing up of the day’s events, all students agreed that the contribution and engagement of young people are essential to a well-functioning democracy, and a large majority of the students expressed a desire to become more actively involved in issues they are passionate about.
Jens Ola Lundstad, head of English and foreign languages, opened the session by looking at the topic of political and civic engagement from a historical perspective and exploring the different ways and areas in which young people’s engagement manifests itself today.
Tuesday 17 January
On Tuesday morning, we met directly at the airport to take the train to Oslo where we had a guided tour at the Storting scheduled at 10 AM. After having cleared security, we met the Parliamentary Andreas Sjalg Unneland (SV) who was waiting for us. We started in the main entrance where he explained not only the evolution in the architecture of the buildings and architecture using reduced models but also the evolution of rights in the political system which evolved from a restrictive policy in which only men above 25 years old were allowed to vote. Prior to explaining the political spectrum, Mr. Unneland detailed the evolution of Storting’s exterior and interior architecture namely a structure enabling politicians to hear protestors outside as well as a “hemicycle” to avoid the face-to-face model (as in the Britain) which is not conducive to achieving consensus. After a brief visit to Stortingssalen where the Foreign Minister was speaking, Mr. Unneland led the students to the Eidsvoll gallery ending the visit in Lagting Chamber where students had the opportunity to ask some questions on different topics including what led him to choose political engagement, becoming one of the youngest Parliamentarians at 28 years old.
Following the visit, we all went to Barcode Foodhall where the students were given a gift card to choose their street food and enjoy sharing a meal at communal tables before the guided tour at the Resistance Museum situated in the oldest part of Ankershus Fortress. The pupils were divided into two groups, mixing French and Norwegians. Students from both countries were led to understand the importance of resistance during WWII through the detailed and anecdotal explanation of the two knowledgeable tour guides. While French students discovered the resistance in Norway, all students could reflect on the importance of defending principles of freedom.
After the museum, the school day was finished. Students went off with their correspondents to discover Oslo or engage in other activities.
Wednesday 18 January
For the second day in a row, the students gathered bright and early at the train station for another full day of activities and events in Oslo. First stop was the Nobel Peace Center, currently housed in the City Hall due to renovations, where the students were given an introduction to the laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022: human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organization Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties. The students were then divided into six groups and given a cardboard box each with four objects, the task being to uncover the link between the objects and one of the winners. The students gained valuable insight not only into the crucial contributions of the three laureates and their fight to preserve democracy but were also invited to explore and reflect upon the connection between democracy and human rights. Several stayed behind after the tour had ended to write postcards to Ales Bialiatski who is currently in prison.
Then followed a guided tour of various artworks at the National Museum. In two separate groups, the students were shown several important works by artists whose political and social engagement have made important contributions to a number of debates both past and present. From Norwegian painter Christian Krogh’s 1887 painting “Albertine at the Police Doctor’s Waiting-Room” attacking the lack of rights for women and the double standards of the bourgeois to Sámi artist Máret Ánne Sara’s 2017 tapestry of 400 reindeer sculls protesting the Norwegian government’s attempt to override indigenous rights, the tour allowed the students to reflect upon the role of the engaged artist and the notion of art as activism and engagement.
After so much food for thought, many students seized the opportunity to initiate themselves to ice-skating in the heart of Oslo on the seasonal ice-skating rink right across from Storting while others explored the city further. Despite the freezing temperature, students skated cheerfully amid smiles and laughs; instances of mutual help between students on the ice were plentiful.
Thursday 19 January
All students attended school. Norwegians attended their classes while a special program was organized for the French students.
Some of the students enrolled in the sports program organized a sport session for the French students. The warm-up consisted of two games of Dodge Ball followed by Volleyball matches. A special thanks to the Norwegian students for having organized this session.
Franske og norske elever i aktivitet i Nannestadhallen
Then the English teacher Ingvild hosted the French students in her class which focused reflection on culture in France, Norway, and the US. In groups, she invited the students to choose a topic related to cultural differences and to compare these three countries. Students chose religion, architecture, national days, and food. After 25 minutes of group work, the lesson ended with a short presentation of each group in English.
In the afternoon, French students had about one hour to start catching up with the lessons they missed back home before attending afternoon classes. Student were divided into two groups.
One group was invited by the math teacher Ina who prepared and co-taught the lesson with the French math teacher Pascale Fuchs. Together with her Norwegian students, they worked on analyzing the results of the survey on youth political and civic engagement that had been conducted in both schools. Slightly intimidated at having to work in groups with students that they didn’t know, French and Norwegian students nonetheless worked together efficiently at representing the results with the objective of comparing both groups.
The second group of French students participated in a technology and scientific innovation class with Kjell Arnt. First, they solved a physics problem dealing with lift forces on an airplane wing to then build a reduced model wing. French students were very interested in this very practical task and the students’ investment was very much appreciated by Kjell Arnt.
We found out that students had organized a surprise party that evening for two students who had their birthdays on Thursday and Friday.
Friday 20 January
Friday started at school with Norwegian students following their regular classes until lunch.
Throughout the morning, French students participated in religion and ethics classes. First, the entire group was invited by Ulrikke to lead a 60-minute group reflection with feedback around the notion of freedom of speech.
Then, French students were invited by Kristine, Anne Synnøve and Marianne to participate in their classes dealing with the topic of secularism. At the beginning of the hour, a presentation on secularism in France which three French students had prepared was given in each of the classes followed by group discussions and exchanges between French and Norwegian students. This was an extremely interesting exchange and provided food for thought for all involved.
After lunch provided by the school in the canteen, a bus took the students for a picturesque drive to Eidsvoll where they were taken on a tour of Norwegian history and the origins of the Norwegian Constitution in 1814, establishing the link with the visit of Storting but also connecting Norwegian and French history. Our guide Torleif Hamre gave a tour of the mansion’s rooms and commons before inviting the students to reflect on the meaning of democracy in Demokratisentret.
Students then took off with their correspondents to enjoy their last evening together.
Some comments from the students:
Je sors de ce voyage avec des souvenirs plein la tête et si je devais conclure sur une phrase : C’était franchement incroyable ! Merci! Ilan I come out of this trip, my head filled with memories. If I had to conclude I would merely say: It was amazing! Thank you! Ilan
Je suis triste de partir et j’espère pouvoir revenir un jour pour visiter ce beau pays qu’est la Norvège ! Merci pour tout! -Anaëlle I am sad to leave, and I hope to be able to come back one day to visit the beautiful country that Norway is! Thanks for everything! Anaëlle
Ce voyage m’a permis d’améliorer mon anglais et de rencontrer des personnes exceptionnelles qui vont beaucoup me manquer. Ce fut une aventure comme je n’en avais jamais vécu et j’espère que ce n’est pas la dernière. Merci pour tout! Logan This trip has allowed me to improve my English and meet exceptional people whom I will miss very much. It was an adventure that I have never experienced before, and I hope it is not the last. Thanks for everything! Logan
Cela m’attriste de partir aussi tôt car le temps est passé tellement vite. Je ne peux que remercier sincèrement tout ce qui a été fait pour nous et j’ai vraiment hâte de réitérer l’expérience en France. It saddens me to leave so soon because time has passed so quickly. I can only sincerely thank you for everything that has been done for us and I am really looking forward to repeating the experience in France.
Merci pour tous les souvenirs que nous allons conserver - Titouan Thank you for all the memories we will cherish. -Titouan
Thank you all for an amazing week! I had a great time and I’m looking forward to meeting you all again.
The text is co-written by the four professors involved in the project:
Margot Roullier-Paijmans, Pascale Fuchs, Karen Fossum Langhelle and Anne-Lise Solheim