Big City Life – European Reality from the eyes of a DNS student
Every period of DNS study programme has its particular shapes and colours that charm us into intense learning. European Reality has been one with an entire universe of discoveries, experiences and deeds that have marked me profoundly.
This is the period in which we break through the second year of our Education at DNS. Right after our International-Field Year, in which we’ve seen ourselves stunningly naked of many material assets we were used to have daily, in which our assumptions about ourselves, about the Other and the world have been meticulously shaken, in which new connections were made at the mind and at the heart… Here we are, coming back with refreshed eyes and a broadened mind to our own living context: the European Reality.
This 6-month period encompasses many elements that, together, compose the mosaic of our learning journey. From the moments of preparation in which we investigate, deliberate and decide where to go and why; from the first moments in the city trying to get a grip on its anatomy, trying to find a house and a job; from all the discussions in the team on how we wanted to live in this Common House, on which subjects we wanted to get closer to and/or investigate in the city, and on what kind of Open Houses we wanted to create and for whom.
Each of these elements has its own unique taste, and composes the vast corpus of the idea — and its living — of studying about Europe from the inside out.
One of the perspectives that delighted me the most was to see and feel our House and our neighbourhood as bases from where we would fly on learning about Europe’s history, contemporary politics, culture, social policies and dynamics, and its relation with the international field. As well as, in the midst of all this, to directly learn about people’s lives, to discuss together about what is the role of education, which directions education should take, and most importantly, how it should be created.
The most rejoiceful was to develop the mindset that our classroom was everywhere we would go with an inquiring mind. It was at our job place, learning about why people have that job and how they live. It was at the Social Services’ outside cue, when you could find yourself listening to an immigrant’s story. It was in the City Hall, talking with a local politician, learning about his views on the city, on the nation, on the European Union and on the world. It was in the streets, in events and cultural centres, questioning and engaging in actions of so various sorts. It was also inside our own House, either by discussing some study task or experience with a teammate, by meeting a guest of your Open House, or by discussing with somebody that became much more than a guest! Someone to whom you truly connected, who began to spend so much time in The House, collaborating with your study projects, that it felt like you were entirely part of the same tribe, of the same community!
And indeed, from my view and experience, one of the most empowering elements of all was exactly the fact that our classroom, where we both taught and learned, wasn’t only where one individual would walk with an inquiring mind: it was where anyone from the team, or from our community, would walk with such mindset. Because when you share this kind of lifestyle, you are not just a bunch of individuals sharing a house: you share so much more! All kinds of resources, material and immaterial, a vision, a project and a purpose. And all the individual experiences are the building blocks of a common learning, that is inexorably more than the sum of all its parts.
And European Reality is, perhaps, one of the moments in the programme in which you will experience a great contrast in this sphere: inside of the house you hold these common values about learning and the different dimensions of community living, but outside of it barely everything works fundamentally different. In our team’s case, we did feel the pulls and hits from this invisible contrast that was slowly tearing us apart. Nevertheless, this tension made us, in the end, come together with more understanding, strength, determination and gratefulness to hold our common values, visions and projects. To reach to the furthest of all our singular and collective potentials. Not only for the rest of this period, but for the rest of our experience in the DNS study programme.
To conclude, one could say that the European Reality is an attentively designed period of our study programme, that lives as a base of reflection, reassessment and consolidation of previous learning and experiences (from previous periods and from one’s personal baggage), as an essential crib for all the aspects developed in this period, and as an invigorating catapult for the next periods and years to come.
With challenged and, therefore,
and the world around,
you may keep walking
with an inquiry and proactive mind,
an attentive and caring heart
and experienced co-operative hands,
on your journey of learning,
that is nothing less
By Laura Green, DNS2017
But our classroom, where we both taught and learned, wasn’t only where one individual would walk with an inquiring mind: it was where anyone from the team, or from our community, would walk with such mindset. Because when you share this kind of lifestyle, you are not just a bunch of individuals sharing a house: you also share all kinds of resources, material and immaterial, a vision, a project and a purpose. And all the individual experiences are the building blocks of a common learning, that is inexorably more than the sum of all its parts.
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