Michele’s saving up experience working in Villas
Hi! I am Michele from Italy, a student in DNS Necessary Teacher Training College, team 2016. After finishing high school I have been working in the tourist sector. I liked my job but I also realised that I want something more than just to earn money and afterwards – spend it. I'm always searching for different means of learning. DNS turns out to be an ideal education because with it's program I can develop more fully, also, travel, explore new places, cultures, and study at the same time.
After enrolling, DNS students, instead of queuing to the bank, have a chance to apply for a saving up job, within the College and its partner schools. That's exactly what I did. I was lucky enough to remain in College campus, known as Tvind where care homes called Villas and ITP are located. In these care homes youngsters (who are also called students, because at the end of the day – we do learn a lot from one another) live, who come from harsh backgrounds, have behavioural, physical or social difficulties. And here they flourish.
In Villas, working as a pedagogue, each day differs because there is a variety of possibilities how to approach these students and create a safe, meaningful environment for them. One of the activities is gardening, as we grow seasonal vegetables like carrots, leeks, potatoes, onions, cabbages, etc. Taking care of the garden requires time and energy but I think it is very useful to learn how to grow healthy food, especially for those, who never had a chance to do so. Another important part is maintaining structure within common life, here usually main tasks are cooking, cleaning, etc. Many Villa students love animals, so having chickens, two donkeys, and a horse is a big advantage, as they learn how to look after others. Definitely, one of most exciting activities are related to sports, like playing volleyball, football, basketball, other team building games. Besides those, there is billiard, badminton, table tennis, etc. There are a well-equipped gym and sports hall where everybody can practice many different kinds of sports. Tvind is full of surprises, in fact, there are many projects, actions, events happening, including Summer Theater, Winter Concert, Peace Conference, Tvind Olympics, etc., which are the creation of students, teachers, volunteers working together to produce something extremely unique. Opportunity to travel and attend various events is one of biggest advantages during saving up period. In January, for example, I went on a holiday together with Villa students, had a beautiful New Year celebration. I enjoyed the spectacular scenery of Aarhus and visited a museum of modern art called Aros. As a pedagogue, I do not expect perfection from my students in Villas. Remember: you can not judge a fish by its ability to climb trees. We, pedagogues, ask the students to put effort and understanding in what we do together, so it increases their awareness of the surrounding world and personal potential. For example, when we are cleaning, it is important that it is looked upon not only as a necessity that needs to be done but also as a sign of respect towards the environment and your home. As a community, we divide responsibilities between each other. Besides my pedagogical work, I am also a housemaster which means that I have to make sure, that the house where I live is clean, tidy and all facilities are functioning. Usually, week's plan has a well-defined program in order for students to become more structured and organised. On Mondays, we have geography lessons. Tuesdays are dedicated to music which is a great uniter, an incredible force. Music is a special way to express yourself and achieve more confidence. Our music lessons and improvisations are done in pedagogical and therapeutic methods. We have guitar sessions, vocals, drums and piano improvisation lessons and sometimes poetry. Some students choose an individual practice and some attend a group session. In the mornings, we sing together for wellbeing and to create a positive attitude towards the day. On Wednesdays, we watch films containing a strong educational message, like "The Pianist" about World War II, "Big Size Me" showing negative effects of junk food or 2100 – a movie about climate change. Sometimes we also spend an afternoon in an art room using different tools to express creativity. On Thursdays, we explore beautiful landscapes taking long walks through forests and nearby areas. All these activities are intended principally to counter the deterioration of basic skills, maintain and consolidate the skills acquired over time, stimulate the discovery and use of various materials, promote integration and socializing with others, stimulate memory and creativity. I see people in Villas like rough diamonds, which needs to be polished in order to make them shine. Every morning I wake up with a smile, knowing that I help these people to shine more and more until one day they will shine on their own, without assistance. Those who think that it is just a regular job, will not understand me. In my opinion, it is a way of life, caring for the people who are in need, being useful and important part of a community. I admit that it is a difficult path, but there is nothing more beautiful in the world than to see the outcome of your efforts in the form of a big smile from those, who had so few.