To evaluate the project during the last project meeting in Hagen in October 2018, we took two steps: first, we made students write a small daily letter including their impressions and the “best of the day”, thus evaluating the progress of the current meeting in terms of newly gained knowledge as well as emotional learning (tolerance, role models etc.). Secondly, we distributed a final questionnaire at the end of the last project day asking for a final evaluation of the week and the complete project. The data basis taken into account are 23 letters of the day and 28 questionnaires (including teachers’ questionnaires).
Here is a short summary of the results of these evaluation processes:
On Monday, many students wrote in their daily letter that they are happy to be here (11) and that they are interested in and feel excited about the next days (9). They expressed that they have high hopes for the week and hope to have a good time together. Some were happy to see friends from the project again (4) and others were excited to meet new people (4). One student summarized the day saying it was enjoyable that so many different people are able to talk freely about topics that are considered “hard to chew” by teenagers.
On Tuesday, many students focused their letter on the places we visited, saying that they were beautiful, interesting and for some new (10). They learned more about the places and the religions. Some said it was special to see Muslims and Christians working together in a community (7), the understanding between religions was also mentioned by 3 persons. Two pointed out that it was a good way to have an own opinion about Marxloh.
On Wednesday the focus was on learning about guidelines for interreligious dialogue which eight students mentioned in their letter. Several were of the opinion that it was hard work and felt exhausted by the end of the day (7). But the positive side was that they worked on a project with an interesting topic and they were proud of the final product as well as feeling happy with the work done today (5). Considering social interaction, several of the students said that they were happy to see how well they work together (4) and that they had fun working together (5).
Thursday was considered a very good day by a majority of students (14), they were excited about it especially about having seen beautiful places. Students learned new things about the EU, found the visit to the EU Parliament interesting and that it was a pleasant experience to talk to Protestant and atheist teenagers at the church. Some liked Belgium in general, four said that they would like to visit Bruxelles again and one even wrote that this day inspired him/her to come back to Bruxelles for an internship.
On Friday, the letters also tended to summarize the week. Most students stressed that they made new friends or that it was good to see everybody again (11). Friday was an interesting and interactive day at school. Students wrote that they learned much about other religions, especially taking into consideration the guidelines for interreligious dialogue. Three of them expressed their relief that people on the project are open-minded and tolerant towards everyone’s beliefs.
The final questionnaire distributed on Friday resulted in the following:
Asked for their expectations when deciding to work on the project, the focus was on meeting and getting to know new people and their way of life (14) or to learn more about different cultures and people (6). People also expected to learn more about other countries (4), to share information about school and life from different perspectives (3), to have a good time and to see new places (7).
Secondly, we asked them if these expectations were met. 26 said yes and explained that they met a lot of people (12), that they learned interesting things about different religions (8), travelled (4). Concerning social interaction, the answers focused on communicating with people from other countries, learning a lot from each other by seeing how other people study, live and work (8) and spending time together enjoying yourself. Two people said that their expectations weren’t met, one of them expected having stress but instead met amazing people. The other had language problems so he/she discovered that he/she was not able to talk to people.
Asked for the impressions of the programme this week, the main focus was on learning a lot about religion(s) and how people live with their religion and about different views of the world (7). Several pointed out that the trips and activities were inspirational (6), especially the visits to churches and the mosque. The week’s programme was perceived as well-planned and interesting. “This week will forever be in my mind being not only a special week but a grand week.” “We were motivated to see each other as equals and to respect one another.”
To evaluate the whole project, we asked what was best looking back at it. Most answers referred to the places we visited, especially Bruxelles (19). The way we worked together to implement the project (e-book on migration, managing diversity, interreligious dialogue) was also mentioned (5). Socially, meeting the families and seeing their way of life (4), the students from other countries that I am glad to call friends (2) and that everybody got along well and we understood each other (2) were the main aspects. “I am really excited about the man in Duisburg. I have respect for his work and what they do in Marxloh.”
Finally, we asked what they will remember about the project. Again, the focus was on the people (12), making new friends and to keep these friendships (6) and the experiences made together (7). The day in the family and how welcoming they were is what some people will remember. The places we visited were mentioned again (11). Not to forget, the things we discussed and learned about (interreligious dialogue, diversity, migration) which are “interesting and significant for the times we are living in” (5). Two persons pointed out that it is the fact that people from different religions work together in a catholic church in a social project to help people who need help. Two others wrote that they had a lot of prejudices about some religions before, but they have now learned that their prejudices were wrong. Moreover, some stated that they found that communication with people from other countries can be difficult but it is possible.
To finish, one quote from a student may summarize everything said before: “ I am glad to be part of this unique experience.”