Auch Rosalie Steinmann ist im Moment ganz anders tätig als gewohnt: Als Lehrerin arbeitet sie an der Piter-Jelles-Montessori School in Leeuwarden in den Niederlanden. Dort ist ist mit internationalen Projekten betraut und ist deshalb auch schon einige Male auf Schülerinnen und Schüler des Max im Rahmen von ERASMUS+-Projekten getroffen. Nachdem bereits ihr Kollege Sake Swart vor einigen Tagen einige Gedanken formuliert hat, äußert sich nun Steinmann mit einigen Überlegungen zur Zukunft internationaler Verständigung:
„The last five years of my teaching career have been spent, aside from my regular teaching duties, working in internationalisation. This means trying to open our students’ eyes to the world around them, to make them more tolerant of other cultures and peoples, both in our country and across borders. We endeavor to give students the opportunity to learn more about the world outside our borders, in Europe and further afar. We help them think about how they can be not just Dutch citizens, but global citizens. What does that mean? What can it bring to their lives? What can they bring to other’s lives? As a ‘foreigner’ myself, having learned to live in a foreign culture, speak a foreign language and make myself at home in a different world than the one I grew up in, these are themes and issues very close to my heart. Having moved to the Netherlands from Canada has enriched my life greatly. The work involved in Internationalisation, getting to know teachers and students from other schools in Europe, has also enriched my life and broadened my horizons and perspective more than I anticipated. I want my students to have the opportunity to do the same, if they so desire.
With the coming of Covid-19 and the resulting closure of borders around the world, I have had to ponder the implications of our efforts in internationalisation. Does it mean we care more, or less, for each other? Are we closing our borders to protect ourselves from our neighbours, or to protect them from us? What does Europe mean anymore, when each country makes their own decisions and sets their own regulations, without consulting each other? We have seen in the US, in the absence of a true leader, the individual states taking matters into their own hands in an effort to protect as many of their residents as possible. Does this mean, that we have no true leadership in Europe? Does it mean we have been kidding ourselves about the unity brought by the EU? Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, not only has our ‘intelligent lockdown’ (meaning many stores stay open and no curfew has been imposed) raised eyebrows in countries around the world, we were also swiftly criticized for a less than solidary reaction to the EU call for further financial aid to our suffering southern European member states. If the usually pro-European Dutch government has difficulty maintaining an attitude of solidarity during this crisis, what can we expect from our allies?
Personally, through this strange time of crisis, I have had more contact with my friends across the borders than I sometimes have otherwise. It has been good to exchange stories of how this has affected our daily lives. It is good to hear perspective from other points of view.
Hopefully, this experience will not further threaten to increase the nationalistic movements that have sprung up recently in various European nations, but will serve as a reminder that, as with global warming and the refugee crisis, we will only survive if we work together and support each other in our efforts to fight this danger. I understand my colleague Sake’s cynicism about how much people will actually change because that is human nature. However, I hope that maybe one day, despite our natural instincts to protect our own, we will rise above and surprise ourselves.“