“Take care of yourselves and the planet”
Taking part in the virtual exchange ‘Climate Movements’ doesn’t only mean learning about the impact of climate change from resources and materials. With dialogue and peer exchange at the heart of this online course, students build lasting relationships and expand their views by listening to the views and experiences of their group members. “We get to have a real connection even with the distance. The different personal experiences everyone brings, give a fresh view to every question or discussion” says Eléonore, a participant from France.
Towards the end of the 9-week virtual exchange journey, participants reflect and express their gratitude towards the group for the experience and the learning that happened. Facilitators invite participants to bring a ‘(virtual) parting gift’ to their last online session as a way of saying goodbye and celebrating their achievements. Over the years our facilitators have seen this exercise lead to wonderful expressions from participants, like digital cards and even musical performances.
This spring iteration, one virtual gift stood out in particular for its relevance to the subject matter of ‘Climate Movements’. Marco, a student from the University of Padua, donated a tree on behalf of his group through the organization ‘Treedom’;
“I believe in the power of individuals to drive the world’s behaviors, so when I heard about this organization, I thought it’s perfect. The tree is donated to local farmers who make it grow and they can exploit its fruits. All trees are registered on the website and can be seen through a GPS localization and the tree “feed” where its photos and updates are published. (…) I already had bought trees for myself, or as gifts to my girlfriend or for Mother’s Day, so it’s almost natural to think about it as a way to thank the group and a good gesture, both symbolic and actual.”
About his participation in ‘Climate Movements’, Marco says that it has been a “great experience”;
“It was my first exchange and I’m happy to have had the possibility to do it and meet new people and perspectives notwithstanding the pandemic”,Marco continues, sharing his experience participating in ‘Climate Movements’. Though I like to discuss and talk, I’m usually the shy guy who rarely starts a conversation, so finding other people to speak with has helped me a lot in being more confident of myself. Moreover, I made friends from many countries in the Mediterranean and I value this aspect a lot. Plus, doing it in English gave me a huge help in exercising more of my language skills!”
Next to gaining confidence, making connections and improving his language skills, Marco says that the learning materials for this Virtual Exchange course were “very rich” and provided room for challenging conversations in the sessions;
“I was already interested and quite aware of the many aspects of climate change, but this course helped me delve more into each aspect, link them together and try to keep these connections in mind while talking with the rest of the group. I’ve found fascinating insights on indigenous cultures, something we as ‘Western peoples’ have difficulties keeping in mind. This course raised my interest in these stories and made me think about the responsibilities we have in their regards.”
With the help of senior facilitator Rawan, the group bonded over fun activities; “Surely I’ll treasure the experiences I’ve had, we as a group will try to stay connected in the future. And if the tree can also be a way to strengthen our bond, it’ll be another great aspect of it!”
Thank you, Marco, for the great gift to your group and sharing your thoughts on ‘Climate Movements’!