As I sit writing this final blog entry we are half way through our final full day at Grillensee and it is time to reflect on what we have achieved and learned over the last three weeks. First of all though let me relate to you the events of the last few hours. Last night both Team Graphics and Team Media worked hard to complete their products and prepare their presentations for today. Very dodgy German food and equally dodgy technology didn’t help but it did not turn out to be the “all-nighter” I had feared and we were all able to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
This morning we had a late breakfast (9.00am rather than 8.00am) but it was still cold meats….again. We then had an hour’s RandR in the form of an indoor archery session, green tights optional. While a few of us did actually manage to hit the target the best that can be said is that no-one was seriously injured (I’m being facetious, it was perfectly safe and fully supervised! Good thing I didn’t tell them about the guns!).
We then had about an hour to set up our presentations, which was just as well as we were beset by the usual run of technical woes for which we devised the usual on-the-spot workarounds. Then it was a quick lunch (better today as all the company big-wigs were in town) and straight into presenting the work.
There was the inevitable “technical-hitch” with the DVD but overall our hosts were suitably impressed with a body of extremely professional looking work, any of which would stand-up well against the products currently in use by the host organisation (in the case of the video it was better than anything they currently have because they currently don’t have anything! Well they do now!). The students gave assured explanations of their work and were appropriately thanked and praised by everyone. They have really worked hard and have put together in a relatively short space of time excellent, commercially viable products. Well done to all!
We have now packed our bags ready for our 4.30a.m., yes “a.m.”, start tomorrow and, by way of reward for our hard work, we won’t be eating at base but are going out for a slap-up traditional German meal (which invariably means pork of some kind, probably sausage. We haven’t seen a cow or chicken all the time we’ve been here, which is just as well because if we had we’d have killed it and eaten it raw – we want steak!).
So what have we come away with from our time here and what have we learned? Well, once again we have seen how immeasurably valuable these exchanges are and not just to the students who came out here. Their enthusiasm and professionalism can only have a positive effect on their peers back home and the PR potential of these trips is another great selling point. Having staff away on trips is bound to cause some difficulties for students and colleagues back in Ealing but surely it’s a price worth paying?
One thing that really hampered us though was the technology on offer. We pretty much had to bring with us everything we needed, so it was annoying, not to mention faintly ridiculous, that we were restricted in carrying out fairly basic tasks such as file transfer and Internet connection with the college PCs. Students who had brought their own laptops (most of which were ancient) had more versatility and flexibility than the staff supposed to be teaching, mentoring and guiding them, and that can’t be right? Luckily, we had a couple of MACs with us.
On the plus side though we had perfect hosts (food aside) and we have to thank Carmen for, if I may throw in a cultural stereotype, her exceptional organisational skills, Isabel and Peggy for not quite so exceptional driving and train ticket buying skills and Maysam for translating (Quality Street are in the post!). Accommodation has been very good, lots of toilets – always very clean. Leipzig and Dresden are great cities and well worth a visit, especially for girls, if I may throw in a gender stereotype, who like to shop! We’ve had lots of cultural interchange and the students have got on very well (too well?) with the German youth we have met, which is half the point of the trip. Finally we should thank the students themselves, Ayan, Dominique, Horatio, Fazi, Ana and Lea. What a great bunch, really hardworking and very compliant (most of the time), they really made it easy for Trishma, Doug and myself but let me assure you……it was no holiday!