By Marcelo Magofke and Alison McCreary
For about 9 years, NTCI has had a partnership with a school in Denmark called Rysensteen Gymnasium. Each year, they send a group of students on a one week exchange. In September of this year, a group of Danish students arrived in Canada and immersed themselves in Canadian culture by visiting the McMichael Art Gallery, visiting an Aboriginal reserve, and coming to some of our classes at NT. It was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to connect with students around the world.
Over the March Break, it was NT’s turn to visit Denmark. A group of 29 North Toronto CI and Bloor CI students, accompanied by Mrs. Pady, Ms. Bilmer, and former NT teacher Mr. McNaughton, left school on March 7th and boarded a school bus to the airport.
Upon arrival in Copenhagen, the Canadians were taken to Rysensteen by one of the school’s teachers to greet their Danish counterparts. After a quick tour of the neighborhood, everyone enjoyed a group dinner before heading home.
On the first full day in Copenhagen, NT and Bloor students were paired with a second year class from Rysensteen, who will be visiting Canada in September 2017. The Canadians followed the Danes to their morning classes, which consisted of Religion, Danish, and French. In the afternoon the whole group went on a long walking tour of the city and got the chance to climb up a historic church to see a bird’s eye view of Copenhagen. The most interesting part of the day for many students, however, was the opportunity to compare the vastly different school systems in Denmark and Canada. In Denmark, gap years are encouraged, some of their exams are taken orally, and the kind of homework (and the amount) they receive each night is very different.
The following day, the Canadians left their Danes at school and travelled to Papirøen, which is roughly translated to “Paper Island.” It is a big warehouse that used to be a paper printing factory but is now a place for vendors to sell international street food. After getting lunch, the group travelled to the Danish Opera House for a full tour of the facilities. It is an incredible architectural masterpiece, and the whole group was shocked by the realization that so few buildings like this one exist in Canada.
The following day was reserved for a day trip to Louisiana, which is a museum of modern art. Everyone enjoyed the exhibits and the grounds, which are a work of art themselves.
The last day was reserved for city exploration in small groups without the Danes, as they had to prepare for a math exam and catch up on school work. Many enjoyed canal tours and walking around the main shopping area of Copenhagen.
In the evening the Danes and Canadians met up and walked over to a repurposed church for a “goodbye dinner”, followed by a concert given by the Danish Girl’s Choir.
Everyone met at 7 am the next morning at the central train station, where the group said a final goodbye to their Danes and headed to the airport to travel to Paris. Upon arrival, the Canadians enjoyed a guided tour of the Louvre, where they saw many classical pieces of art in person.
The following day, a tour guide took the group on a walking tour of the city which included Notre Dame, The Luxembourg Gardens, and the famous Eiffel Tower.
A massive thank you goes out to everyone who made this trip happen - thank you to the Rysensteen teachers and administration for planning amazing activities, thank you to all of the students who went on the trip and helped make wonderful memories, thank you to the wonderful families who hosted us while in Copenhagen, and thank you to Ms Bilmer, Mr McNaughton, and Mrs Pady for giving up their March break to take us.