April 2016. And in Oostende we landed!
And there we were in Oostende, not Brussels as usual, and all because of a tragedy that is happening more often than it should, right? Terrorist attacks are a menace to our democracy and we should be brave enough to counterattack and that’s what we did by not giving up our exchange programme in Belgium.
A new adventure no doubt, we had to take a bus to Brussels which was quite a long ride, about two hours to the Central Station and then the train to Kapelle. But it was worth it, we had a very warm welcome, not only by the students but also by their parents and a great typical Belgian dinner waiting for us!
And there we were, ready to enjoy every moment and so we did! Every day we had an exciting programme, we went to Brussels, Bruges and Gent and we kayaked in Drubuy as we always do. What an adventure it was!
This year the highlight was on Ypres, a place where we could feel the horrors of World War I, something no one should ever forget – Tyne Cot British & Commonwealth Military Cemetery near Passchendaele, the largest British cemetery in the world; In Flanders Battlefields Museum; the daily last post ceremony in Menin Gate, memorial to the missing. Well, all that we saw and felt on this day is a kind of a cry and a warning to all of us that war is cruel and it can never be forgotten!
What is important in these exchanges is that the youngsters share all these experiences and create bonds, which we believe is the right way to understand and respect one another – with respect, tolerance and friendship conflicts do not take place!
All of us had a very great time and we thank our friends, the Belgians, for all the good moments together and we sincerely hope to carry on this programme for a few more years.
Lígia Luís and Teresa Reis