I am Manon, I am 23, and I am from Liège. I’ve just graduated with a Bachelor degree in European studies and I wanted to join a concrete and significant project in order to enter into working life, to meet new challenges, to meet interesting people, to open doors for my future and to live an enriching experience. Last summer, I explored the European solidarity corps portal and found a project in a new alternative school project in a small Alsatian village. I chose this project because it matches with my values and my interests in alternative education, work with children, nature, and associative sector. It is meaningful and very exciting to work for the development of such a beautiful project.

I am surrounded by an amazing team of members of the association which created the school, teachers, volunteers, and supportive parents. Together with one of the teachers and the two European volunteers, I am living in the school which is a big traditional Alsatian house. We live in a small village called Bartenheim-la-Chaussée in the Haut-Rhin department, close to Mulhouse and Basel. This region is beautiful and well-located to visit Switzerland and Germany too!

After almost three months working here, I already learnt so much! My main tasks are first, to assist the teachers, sometimes in the classrooms applying active and positive pedagogy (Montessori, Freinet…) and sometimes in the nature as it is also a forest school! These pedagogies are extremely interesting. In the forest, we play various games, we do land art, we climb the trees, we look at the fauna and flora… In the classrooms, the children are active and autonomous. Using didactical material for practical life activities, mathematics, grammar, history, geography, writing, reading, etc… It is amazing to see how fast they grow and learn! Second, with the two other European volunteers, we supervise the lunch time and the after-school care. Third, we organise English workshops and birthdays parties for children on Wednesdays. On top of that, we also help the association to think about other long-term projects. Therefore, this is an enriching and complete experience as I develop many different skills such as project creation and management, team work, childcare, patience, communication, stress management, organisation, leadership, creativity, self-confidence, conflict resolution, and dedication. These skills are extremely useful for my personal and professional development! Moreover, I am meeting many very interesting and inspiring people.

Today’s circumstances are of course not ideal, and I am very disappointed not to be able to travel more and meet more people. However, I am very lucky to be able to continue my project despite the lockdown as the schools are still open! In these times of crisis, working in such a positive and caring environment brings a lot of hope and is very enjoyable. The children and the team are all so happy to come to school every morning! I am developing great relationships with the team and with the children, I am inspired by people, I am developing skills, I am gaining self-confidence, and I feel I am in the right place!