During days from 5th to 10th of July, 2016, a group of thirteen (10 students and 3 teachers) from Piotr Skarga High School in Grójec participated in a visit in Jan Brabant College in Helmond in the Netherlands. Both schools participate in the Future of History project included in Erasmus+ program.
The meeting began with a welcome at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. The students know each other already, because in September 2015 we had the Dutch group as guests in our high school. After short sightseeing we headed to the Anne Frank Museum – it is a house where for two years (1942-44) a Jewish girl hid and wrote her diary. In 1944 she was placed in a concentration camp where she died of typhus shortly before its liberation. In her diary, living in hiding, she described reality surrounding her, not losing hope despite traumatic experiences. Among what she wrote we can find, 'I still believe that people are good at heart'. Anne's history was translated into 30 languages and film adaptations were made. From Amsterdam the group went to Helmond by train and the Polish students were picked up by Dutch host families.
Monday began with a meeting at school, its sightseeing and lessons together. We participated in a history lesson during which the teacher told the story of his grandfather's life during the war, showing family souvenirs.
On Tuesday both Polish and Dutch students participated in a trip to Hartenstein Museum in Oosterbeek, dedicated to the battle of Arnhem being part of the Market Garden operation. Visiting the museum we saw souvenirs related to fighting soldiers, we stopped by the bust of General Stanisław Sosabowski, the commander of the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade fighting in that area and we could walk into the centre of battle's reconstruction there. The museum shows that 'freedom is nothing obvious, it is a value lived by us together’. After the museum visit we went to the Military Cemetery, where 1754 Allied soldiers lie buried – among them Polish ones, to pay respect to heroes. After returning to Helmond the group met with A. R. Laurijssen – an airforce general working with Ministry of Defence, who in a perfect way presented Second World War's fortunes in Poland and the Netherlands. Listening with interest, we compared the fates of our ancestors fighting and dying for freedom.
On Wednesday the students familiarised themselves with archives of Regional Historical Centre in Eindhoven and during workshop sessions they looked for information about particular people from the local community in basic historical sources, and then presented their work. After work activities there was time for relaxing shopping strolls.
Thursday began with lessons together followed by workshops during which the students worked on another part of „Future of History” magazine. The students worked in groups, each of which focused on a different topic connected with the visit. In the evening there was a delicious farewell dinner prepared by the host families. Teachers, students and parents met together in nice atmosphere to talk, share experiences, try Dutch dishes and watch school presentations.
Friday was a departure day. The Polish students said goodbye to their Dutch peers and went back to Grojec. The next meeting, in Poland this time, will take place after the summer holiday. See you then.