For our project days our class, 6B, travelled to Brussels with our history teacher Dr. Siegfrid Opelka. Our flight was early in the morning of the 23rd of June. Upon arrival, we checked in at the Meininger Hotel, which was originally built as a factory. We were given two medium-sized rooms with bunk beds.
The beauty about field trips is that you can go into detail. We had two thematic priorities: Politics / EU institutions and history.
We addressed the first one immediately: after having checked in we went to the “Permanent Representation of Austria to the EU” where we had an introductory session with Botschaftsrätin Mag. Mirjam Dondi. Our first highlight was the session with Ambassador Mag. Alexander Kmentt afterwards. We discussed questions concerning the European Union, disarmament and his job. This experience helped us to further expand upon our existing knowledge of the EU. The fourth day was devoted to politics as well as we paid a visit to the EU parliament and had a question and answer session with MEP Dr. Joe Weidenholzer (S&D).
History was given a lot of space as well: we had a tour of Brussels, where we saw many famous landmarks, such as the “Manneken Pis” and “Grote Markt”. On Sunday, we walked the streets of Bruges, a preserved medieval city, with Professor Kmentt as our tour guide. We were divided into three groups, and were given questions to answer during our stay. We discussed the influence of guilds, different forms of medieval governments, the impact of geography on the city and the consequences of the discovery of the USA on North Sea Trade. The following day, we travelled to the famous battlefield of Waterloo, where Napoleon’s army was defeated by the British and Prussians. We learned a lot about the build-up of the battle, the battle itself – we walked the battlefield and had to develop a strategy to conquer Hougoumont farm (which was not taken by the French on that day in June 1815) – and, most importantly, discussed the consequences this one battle had on the fate of a whole continent.
As Belgium is known for its exquisite chocolate, we decided to visit a chocolate museum close to the main square on the very last day. Most of the class took part in a tour, where we were given a brief history of the development of the use of chocolate over the years. Directly after our conclusion at the museum, we had to head to the airport in order to catch our flight back to Vienna in the afternoon. The ending to a fantastic trip all of us enjoyed a lot!
Session with Ambassador Mag. Alexander Kmentt
Prof. Kmentt working with 6B at Waterloo Memorial
MEP Dr. Josef Weidenholzer and 6B in the European Parliament