Visit to Arlon, Belgium

Comenius Project: Responsible use of the new technologies

June 17 – 19 Project meeting in Arlon, Belgium

Partner schools: Institut Cardijn Lorraine Arlon, Belgium and IES Reyes Católicos, Ejea de los Caballeros, Spain

I am not sure what expectations we had of Belgium as we embarked on our journey. What are the Belgians famous for?  What is Belgium like?

Well the north was certainly uninteresting but the south, reminiscent of Gloucestershire with its green hills, woodlands and valleys, was a delightful contrast. This was the first evidence of a north/ south divide of which we were to become increasingly aware.  Technical problems causing a delay to our arrival were brushed aside with the quip “It happens all the time! In Brussels they don’t worry about us in the South”. A relaxed atmosphere characterised the visit and as well as working on the project we were able to visit some interesting places.

Arlon itself is a small quiet town – except on the day we visited when students celebrated in jubilant mood the end of their examinations.  Situated in Wallonia, the official language is French although the local dialect is a variant of the German language. It is one of the oldest towns in Belgium, originally a Roman settlement lying at the crossroads of trade routes between France, Germany and Belgium.

The impressive and affluent city of Luxembourg was only a short distance away.  Set in green river valleys, over a hundred bridges cross the city, providing links between the historical and modern sections. Luxembourg, as well as being the nucleus of a united Europe, is an important commercial centre . An afternoon spent exploring this fascinating city could only whet the appetite to see more of its buildings and learn more about its history and culture.

The final day gave us the opportunity to visit Orval Abbey. This beautiful and ancient Cistercian monastery is not only well- known for its history and spiritual life but also its local production of beer!

So at the end of the visit I asked the Belgians, what are you famous for? The answer was beer, one different beer for each day of the year. Naturally this answer came from a man! In my experience Belgian chocolates cannot be surpassed and the interesting mix of cultures and languages made this small country well worth a visit.

I am indebted to Mr Crumblehulme for his dedication to the project, his support  on the visit and his considerable help as Spanish interpreter.

J. Hewett

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