“Huomenta” means “hello”.
Did you ever dream of watching animated films during the class time? Well, sounds like a strange idea, especially if you are in high school, doesn’t it?
On 16th April 2018 we said “huomenta” to eight students and three teachers from Finland. They came to participate in an Erasmus project, which included not only watching animated films, but also learning how to make one and actually doing it. That two weeks had been a very lively time in our school. Everyday was full of work and joy. As the time passed by, we got to know each other more. We also had an opportunity to participate in various workshops led by animation experts, who happened to be our schools graduates – Wioletta Sowa, an animated films director and Karolina Borgiasz, a student of animation at Łodź Art Academy. After receiving some practical tips, we got down to work. We had to do everything from the beginning. Storyboards, character and background designs, the puppets… a lot of work. During project time some of us organised a workshop for kids in the primary school in Nowy Wiśnicz.
The Erasmus project definitely is an activity worth joining. Meeting new people, facing new challenges…
The classroom was filled with sounds of chattering, you could hear many conversations going on. It was not a lesson. Or not an official lesson, let us say. Everyone around was busy with all kinds of tasks. Writing, drawing, using some complicated installations, which consisted of a few electronic appliances each, somehow connected with cables. The room was barely lit. The only sources of light were lamps, located at three tables. This arrangement was made to provide the best possible conditions for… For what ?
All this movement was caused by the Erasmus+AnimPolFin project, which was a student exchange between Poland and Finland. Last April, Finnish students visited Wiśnicki Plastyk. This time, it was Polish students’ turn to travel to Lybecker Institute in Raahe. That part of the exchange took place from 15th to 26th October 2018. Sixteen members of two international groups and their teachers got together again to work on two animated films, based on local legends from both countries.
That part of the project started with a professional preparation. We were given a chance to participate in lectures led by experienced animators. First of them was Metsämarja Aittokoski, the director of famous Finnish children animation called Pikkuli. Later on, we would consult our scripts with her and draw more detailed storyboards, taking the tips she gave us into consideration.
The second specialist who honoured us with a visit was Heta Jokinen, an animator and also background designer of Pikkuli. She performed making a short film in front of the group, to show how does this technique work in practise and explained the principles of animation, according to Disney. She stayed with us for one day and helped to start the realisation of the project.
Using puppets props and backgrounds they had prepared in Wiśnicki Plastyk artistic workshops, students started shooting their movies.
Despite some technical perturbations and many challenges to face, working on an animated production turned out to be great fun! The joy and excitement of learning new skills, experimenting, trying… together.
Working in groups was another valuable experience the project offered. Not only did we practise our language skills, but also had a possibility of further development of our social qualities. Getting on well with a group seems to be quite a useful feature in life, as well as it can be a source of happiness and satisfaction for a human beings, which are, in fact, social creatures.
During the project we had observed some characteristic of the famous Finnish education system. For example, a specific structure of breaks. First coffee break begins at 9.00 am. The lunch break is set at 11.00 am and can last even up to an hour! Then, there is another coffee break at 1.00 pm. The lessons end at 3 o’clock. The classes are implemented in a form of multiple projects, which each student has to complete during a year. Students are encouraged to do this tasks on their own, however, are free to ask their supervising teacher for help, when needed.
Besides working, we also had lots and lots of fun. At the evenings, we would gather at the teachers’ apartament to eat dinner and watch films. Our Finnish friends organised gaming afternoons and at the weekend, took us on a wonderful excursion. The first stop was Ranua ZOO, where many northern species live , such as snowy owl, arctic fox, volves and manul, a wild cat species famous for its “grumpy” facial expression. Second part of the trip was a visit to Rovaniemi, the Santa Claus village. On the way back, there was a possibility to go candy shopping, right next to the Swedish border.
Eventually, a survey has been conducted among participants. According to the answers, the most valuable aspect of this project was our meeting. The second most important thing was a possibility to obtain or improve skills not only in animation, but also language and social qualities.
One of the students wrote: Projects like this one can show how much we all have in common. It let me meet people that normally I would have never met, I am grateful for that. This project gave me an opportunity to practice my English and work as a member of a team. I have obtained a lot of new experiences and skills.
Another answer was I think there should be more projects like this. To learn about the habits of other countries and broaden the knowledge of the subject of the project.
Personally, I hope in the future each and every student will have an opportunity to take part in an exchange during their school time or studies. Both because of its educational qualities presented in a fun way, as well as an important cultural experience, which teaches us to appreciate and respect one another.