Project EDISON is a cultural project held in Czech Republic aimed at promoting cultural awareness and fighting xenophobia amongst Czech students (age 9-18). All of the schools are located in the Central Bohemia regions with most of them located either within or just outside of the capital, Prague.
Exchange participants from all over the world came down to share interesting facts about their countries and cultures with the teenagers and young adults.
Project EDISON lasted for 6 weeks. During the first week, we attended presentation trainings conducted by the local AIESEC Prague members at Charles University. We were taught on how to handle classes that have minimal English proficiency and how we could tailor and cater our presentations accordingly.
At the end of the First Week, the group of 24 participants were split into 3 groups. Every group had to visit 5 schools across the 5 weeks. A leader also had to be chosen for each group and I was fortunate to be presented with the opportunity to lead my team as their leader.
Being a leader was initially daunting, as I had to work with people from different countries. There were many differences but thankfully everyone was welcoming of the differences and in the process we managed to learn more about each other including the various cultures and lifestyles. It was a novel experience for me to lead people from different parts of the world and bring them together.
As the leader I took responsibility to disseminate the information from the schools we were working with or AIESEC Prague to my fellow group members, ensure that everyone gets to the schools on time and figuring out how to get to new places when needed, managing any internal conflicts and constantly updating AIESEC Prague on the status and location of my group, and conducting debriefs/reflections every week to discuss and plan activities for the schools.
For the 5 weeks that followed, we journeyed to grammar and elementary schools in various towns. Every town and school was unique with its own culture. Some had gold mines while some even homed huge medieval fortresses. The teachers and host families were also incredibly welcoming and made us feel really comfortable.
Every week, we would also have Global-Village, where the 8 of us AIESECers will gather with the Czech students to present interesting food and games popular in our homeland.The local students loved these sessions and were always enthusiastic and curious to learn more. They asked us a long list of questions; from the local cuisines in our home countries to details of our everyday lives we lead back home.I even had the opportunity to share my enthusiasm and knowledge of aeroplanes and some of the sports that are uncommon in Czech Republic.There was this one occasion when a student was truly inspired by the Singapore’s Changi Airport and the architecture of the buildings in Singapore that he wrote an email to the English teacher of the school, asking for more information on Singapore.
During one of the weeks, we were also tasked to do presentations in pairs. I was paired with my Mexican friend from whom I learnt so much more about Mexico. Beyond the amazing Tequilas and Tacos, I was introduced to wonderful places like Cancun and Sea Caves.
Aside from the 5 days of fun in school, our host families also had many activities planned for our weekends. From garden parties to local hotspots for summer holidays, they were kind enough to entertain us throughout.
In the end, we left the amazing Czech Republic knowing that we had made a difference in the students’ lives; knowing that these Czech students will grow up to be open-minded and inquisitive individuals. All in all, this has been a special and an unforgettable experience. Through the inclusive experiences I shared with my fellow AIESECers, I did not just learn about Czech Republic but Ukraine, Mexico, Philippines, China, Vietnam, Canada, Thailand as well!