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YOUTH PROGRAMS

Spain-U.S.-NETHERLANDS YOUTH PROGRAM ON IMMIGRATION AND INTEGRATION, 2009

The goal of this project was to create an opportunity for a profound personal and intellectual experience for the youth and adult participants that would result in new thinking about the importance of democracy and an active citizenry.  The exchange emphasized the theme of immigration and changing societies in school-based programs in the three countries.

Four exchange programs took place in this project, two of them as part of a US-Spain bilateral exchange and the other two a US-Netherlands bilateral exchange.  Programs in each country lasted three weeks, and each involved students plus accompanying teachers.  The groups participated in classroom lessons, site visits, community service, social and cultural activities, and collaborative projects.  Student participants led a number of presentations at their host schools.   All of the programs included two-week homestays with local families. 

IES Angel de Saavedra high school in Córdoba was paired with Amherst Regional High School in Amherst, Massachusetts.  Eight Spanish students and one of their teachers participated in a program in the US from January 7 to 27, 2009.  In addition to their time in Amherst, they spent several days in Boston and New York City.  Four American students and a teacher had a corresponding three-week program in Spain, from April 15 to May 5, 2009, including several days in Seville and Madrid as well as in Córdoba.

IES Angel de Saavedra high school in Córdoba was paired with Amherst Regional High School in Amherst, Massachusetts.  Eight Spanish students and one of their teachers participated in a program in the US from January 7 to 27, 2009.  In addition to their time in Amherst, they spent several days in Boston and New York City.  Four American students and a teacher had a corresponding three-week program in Spain, from April 15 to May 5, 2009, including several days in Seville and Madrid as well as in Córdoba.

City+ College (a public high school) in The Hague was paired with two US high schools in Massachusetts: Northampton High School (NHS), and Al-Noor Academy High School in Mansfield.  Eight Dutch students and two teachers participated in a program in the US from February 22-March 14, 2009.  These students were hosted by ITD for the first and last days of the program.  From Feb 25-March 4 they were hosted by NHS, and from March 4-11 at Al-Noor.  Four American students, two from NHS and two from Al-Noor, had a corresponding three-week program in the Netherlands, from April 4-25, 2009, including several days in Amsterdam and other cities, as well as their time in The Hague.

The collaborative projects developed under each bilateral exchange were video documentaries on immigration and integration themes.  Work on the collaborative projects kept the exchange groups connected throughout the project.  Other students at all five schools were involved on many occasions during the programs.

An independent evaluator conducted activities with the participants before, during, and after these programs, and subsequently developed a 34-page report of findings.  The report concludes that the experiential approach employed by ITD is a very effective tool for teaching youth about the cultural and historical context of another country, and that the project raised
participant awareness of, and commitment to, issues of immigration in their own or other countries.  The extent to which the participants, youth and adult, were affected by the project is apparent in their enthusiastic responses to interview questions.  The report states: “This exchange met its objective of creating the opportunity for a ‘profound personal and intellectual experience for participants that results in new thinking,' as is evidenced from remarks made in evaluative group interviews, comments written on their questionnaires, and notes made in their evaluation journals…”

In the fall of 2009, remaining project funds were used to send two additional US teachers to Europe, one to Spain and one to the Netherlands, to conduct week-long follow-up activities.

The most significant activities resulting from the project are: 1) A self-funded second US-Spain bilateral exchange with the same high schools in 2010, again on the theme of immigrants; 2) An awareness among non-immigrant participants of the challenges faced by immigrant families and a new level of maturity regarding diversity issues; 3) A Photo-Literacy project between the US-Netherlands high schools conducted via the internet; and 4)  A project at Northampton High School providing language support to recent immigrants who are English Language Learners.