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Erasmus+ Journal (Issue 4) 2015/16

Wiep Reimert, St Agnesschool, Suriname, Mobility for Internship, KPZ

Before departure:

Contact of St. Agnesschool: Mss Vijanti Soehawan

Contact Erasmus Office of the KPZ: Harrie Poulsen

I'm going to do an internship in Paramaribo, Suriname. Paramaribo is the capital of Suriname. The city is located on the west bank of the Suriname River.

I have decided to aim for an internship in Suriname. I am very interested which aspects the Netherlands have influenced in this country. Moreover, I am keen to know how education will be with having fewer materials available compared to primary schools in the Netherlands.

The internship took place at the St. Agnes School. I had contacted the director, Ms. Soehawan. She was very excited and she said she was very excited to receive a trainee at their school.

The director told me that they were conducting several researches  and that I could teach in the highest two or three classes. When doing my internship, my task would be to focus on the areas of language and reading comprehension.

Information about the school:

St. Agnesschool:
Verlengde Keizerstraat 67
Paramaribo, Suriname
597 471-267

The school is a primary school with children of ages between 5 – 12 years old. The main language is Dutch. The school starts each day at 7.55 and it ends at 13.00 o’clock. I flew to Suriname on February 25 and I will return on May 24.  

I am very excited for this internship and I hope that my research will turn out to be a relevant contribution for the school and its students.

The internship:

The St. Agnesschool is a school with children from different origins. The school has big ambitions and the director would like to improve its education. Therefore, there are many meetings in which reading comprehension and math are a central topic. There are about 400 students and each class has about 2 groups.

There are several similarities and differences between the Dutch and Surinam education. The similarities in education are that the teachers want to teach something new to the students. I noticed this because a lot of new books are purchased which also provide better quality for the students. The differences in education are mainly in pedagogic area. In the Netherlands we are used to have much to do with the input from pupils and take into account the differences between the children. Moreover, we are focused on working together, while in Suriname input from students is less appreciated and everything is taught centrally.

I enjoyed how enthusiastic the children responded to cooperating, but I had to get used to the way the teacher and the students interact. Teachers and students answer to each other in a very direct way and little attention is paid in giving each other compliments. Next week will be my last week at this school and I will look back on a beautiful time with a lot of experiences.  

The accommodation:

I stayed with five girls from the KPZ in a pink house on the prinsessestraat. Our house also has an upper floor where other students were accommodated. There were a lot of other student houses in our street. The six of us shared a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom. We all had bed room for ourselves. The house was located in a safe area and it was near to the city centre. We paid €265 euros for a month. That's a lot of money if you are comparing what Surinam people here earn per month. For groceries, we often went to a European supermarket called the Tulip. Here you could find a lot of Dutch products, such as cheese and drop. We found our with help from someone else.

The climate:

It's wonderful to leave a cold country and to arrive in a warm country, with 33 degrees. In the morning your bad mood would disappear immediately after seeing the sun shine very bright. Unfortunately, we have also seen a lot of rain the last few weeks, because we found ourselves in the rainy season. It's strange thing that it can rain very hard for five minutes and then immediately after the sun shines again.

The cultural awareness:

There are many different religions in Suriname. You have Muslims, Creoles, Maroons, Javanese, Chinese and more. These populations are reflected in Parmaribo, but also in the rest of the country. We have visited the Maroons, where they speak an entirely different language. The cultures lives next to each other. It's nice to see that they live with a lot of respect for each other. With Holi Pagwa we we were invited by our Hindu landlord to join him for dinner. Everyone was welcome. It was nice to be able to witness a feast from up close.

The history:

I was introduced to the rich history of this country, because I had to give history lessons at my school. I also visited Fort Zeelandia in which the time of the slaves was explained in a special way. I have also visited the plantation Peperpot and an old fort called Nieuw-Amsterdam. These were former plantations on which slaves worked and lived.

The trips:

During our stay in Suriname, we wanted to see as much of the country as possible. That is why we have choose to have a cultural, natural and a coastal trip, so that we saw something of every area of the country. For the nature trip, we went to Brownsberg. There we also visited the Irene-fall and Leo-fall. We slept on a desert island, sleeping in a hammock and we kayaked to Stone Island. For a coastal trip, we slept on a house on the water. For the cultural trip, I visited Gunzy and Isadou. It was very nice to see the original inhabitants, who basically live from the nature. I also spotted turtles and a caiman. At my last trip I did a quad tour through the jungle. This is highly recommended! The only downside is that it costs a lot of money. A trip to the Interior costs 200 euro, but there is food, drinks and transportation included. I would definitely recommend to do the same!

The finances:

Plain: 800 euros (retour)
Appartment: 265 x 3 = 795 euros for 3 months.
Household: 300 x 3 = 900 euros for 3 months.
Bicycle: 30 euros x 3= 90 euros for 3 months.
Trips: 1000 euros for 3 months (about 200 euro per trip).

Answers on the questions:

What offers your internship to you?
I did my internship at the ‘St Agnesschool’ at the ‘Verlengde Keizerstraat’. The head mistress was very nice and makes me feel comfortable from the beginning. The teachers and head mistress were open for my initiatives and were thinking with me to change the education. We brainstormed together to improve the level of teaching. The teachers also offered a lot of help, for example when I didn’t understanding something about a lesson in maths. They involved me in extracurricular activities and motivation days in school. Something I appreciated a lot was the option to talk with the care coordinator and remedial teacher at school. It’s a very warmly and open-minded school.

What needs a student when he/she chooses your internship?
They have to show their own initiatives. By doing this I gave for example ‘anti-bullying practices’ in different classes in the school. They have to dare and don’t be afraid to try things. The teacher, and especially the students were enthusiastic about these initiatives. 

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