I had this incredibly rich experience of teaching at the summer school of the Ostrava University. I taught the module of Creativity from the overall theme „Entrepreneurship and Creativity for All”.
I was a tiny bit apprehensive about how the course will go. I always am at the beginning of a new course. Not only because a group of international students is more difficult to work with than the students of your own university whose general group profile you probably know, even if you don’t know them personally. I was also worried about what to chose, how much to select from the increasing heap of materials and research about creativity in today’s troubled world. And, mainly, what kind of practical activities in which they will easily engage and find meaningful?
Those enrolled were people mostly from arts study programs, rather different from my regular business students. I knew that well in advance because the organizers had been very professional: kept me updated on all issues, sent me the brochure with „Who’s who in the summer school” with pictures and a brief self-presentation of the students. True, not all who have signed up really showed up! But this was actually an asset: we were a group of 14 people who worked better and easier together.
The students were from all over the world and could participate in the summer school thanks to the Erasmus+ programme. Some of them where from Czechia; and also from China, Russia, Koreea, Indonesia and Taiwan. And me, from Romania. Quite an interesting mix of cultures.
I could write a book about all the things we did and discussed about. Maybe in the future. Now I’d like only to look at the students and how incredibly open, dynamic and ready to learn they were. Yeah, I know, I know – they were sometimes late (overslept or other absolutely valid reasons), sometimes drawn into their own worlds. All in all, however, they were aware of the need for mindfulness and ready to share their own concerns and preoccupations with the group.
So, I’ll share in this post the beginning and the end of the course. I’ll do it using pictures and the student’s own words. There will, obviously, be no names. No connections between the pictures and the words. And to put your concerns at ease I have their consent to put pictures on Facebook, which means I can publish them here as well.
At the beginning of the course we did some warming up activities to get to know each other and to test our own creative vein. What can you do with and from a cabbage? And what have we learnt about one another? The participants had to give their feedback the next day in the form they found easier for them. Here are some: a poem, some ppts, a poster, word reports.
And here are some pictures with people actually delivering their feedback.
I was really, really impressed by the final presentations. The thinking and the actual work that has been put into them under such brief time. And mainly the discussions that each presentation raised, irrespective of the medium in which it was created. As if it were a real life project, advice was given, concerns raised, solutions sought. I hated myself every time I had to stop people. Time has no mercy.
We also had some incredible outings. So much fun, getting to know each other from other perspectives as well. We had a pub quiz (and yes the winners got the prizes, but we were all enriched by the evening), we went to visit one of the most creative heritage sites that I have ever seen – Dolni oblast Vitkovice. And we unleashed our creativity at the Gallery of Fine Arts in Ostrava at a great workshop where children didn’t mind mixing with us.
Five days? Really? It seems as if we traveled among various universes. As one of the students said – as in 500 years.
Maybe I’ll have to write a book in the end. Not to lose the richness of the experience we had. Tell others, and myself, how important it is to go out into the world and meet new people, particularly from other cultures, hopefully people against whom you maybe prejudiced and they show you that you have to move on in your assumptions because the world has moved on. And we are all now so different.
To be continued.