PCD Study Tour

Trip Start May 23, 2009
1
5
28
Trip End Jul 20, 2009


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Flag of Denmark  , Region South Denmark,
Thursday, June 4, 2009

JUNE 3, 2009
On Wednesday, June 3 we met bright and early in the drizzle at Frue Plas to board the bus. I relaxed and slept most of the bus ride to Marjatta, the special needs community that we visited. While there we got a tour of the grounds and some of the classrooms and living spaces. The grounds were very lush and green and reminded me of being at a summer camp. Children can begin going to school at 6 years old and can stay in the community for life. During childhood the lessons have a great focus on being in tune with nature which is apparent from the use of space. After high school there are job and living opportunities available that are connected to Marjatta and outsiders are encouraged to come into the community.

After visiting the community we settled in for the longer drive to Odense - we ate lunch and watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The hostel was so much better than I could have ever imagined: it was very clean, offered a variety of amenities including breakfast and TV and to be honest, the bathroom was way nicer than the one at my Kollegium. My three roommates, Lisa, Mackenzie, and Emily were great and I'm so glad that I got to know them better during this trip! We settled into the hostel and then set out for a walking tour around the city. The architecture was so cute and it was a quaint, old European town that would be perfect to retire in. They are definitely very proud of their history and ties to Hans Christian Andersen; our walking tour was even titled "In the footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen." Dinner was served at Den Grimme Ælling (aka Ugly Duckling) and was a delicious buffet. Afterwards we explored the town a bit before heading back to the hostel.

JUNE 4, 2009
Day two of the study tour was jam-packed! We had breakfast at the hostel and then split up into three groups to visit different sites. I went to Rosengårdskolen, an integrated school for typically develop children and those with physical and learning disabilities. The school is one of the largest public school in Denmark with 750 students and apparently has the largest playground. The playground surrounded the school and was very impressive; not only did they have typical playground toys, but they also had large fields, their own forest, and interactive toys that could calculate scores accessible from the internet. At the school some of the children managed to take regular classes; however, their idea of integration is very different from any in the U.S. It was more about the fact that they share similar space and have the opportunity to play with each other occasionally that makes it "integrated." It was a very impressive school but left me with more questions about inclusion in the Danish school system.

We had lunch as a group at Franck A on one of the main walking streets and then walked to Odense Kulturhus. This center is a community center for people with physical disabilities and includes a music center that's home to a band that travels the world and performs at many venues, an art studio occupied by 9 artists who put together galleries and shows, and even a knitting workshop where people weave place-mats, rugs, and more. It was an impressive facility and it was fantastic to see all of the talent housed in this community. In regards to the class, it further stressed how those with special needs become their own community rather than entering into the typical one.

We were all exhausted by the end of this visit but luckily the next item on the agenda was the Fyrtøjet (The Tinderbox)! The Tinderbox is a place where children of all ages (and they mean all ages) get to experience the wonders of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales! Not only did we get to dress up and run around but we also got the chance to do some artwork (watercolor paintings and coloring)! It was so much fun!! The scene that was up revolves around a story about brothers seeking the hand of the Princess - 2 (or 3, I can't remember) of the brothers were very smart and intellectual and the father gave them each a horse to get to the princess. The other brother was kind of the black sheep of the family and the father gave him a donkey to travel; of course this last brother got the girl in the end. I'm rather embarrassed by the rendition of the story I just gave and can't remember the name :(

After playing and painting we went to the HC Andersen Museum next door and learned about the life of HC Andersen. It was pretty neat because the museum was built onto the house that HC Andersen was born in and we got to walk through the house! I came to Denmark not knowing who HC Andersen was, embarked on the study tour knowing that he wrote the original Little Mermaid (where she dies), and left that day with more knowledge about HC Andersen than I could have ever imagined - if you want fun tidbits please ask, I'm full of them now.

That night we went to the walking streets where it was quite a flurry of activity! Lisa, Mackenzie and I all bought the same dress in different colors and at dinner at a pizza place with a rather abrasive host and then went to a chocolate shop to get soft serve! I love the soft serve here because they dip it in a cocoa powder that tastes delicious. It got so cold (10°C) that we went back to the hostel and chilled after looking in blockbuster (where movies were 150 Krones/about $30 USD and found a movie titled "American Poop," which was rather amusing).

JUNE 5, 2009
We had another breakfast at the hostel then loaded the bus and headed to the Egeskov Castle and Gardens. We spent a few hours there exploring the castle and it's grounds. It was a really interesting place because there was so much to do! We went through shrubbery mazes, walked amongst the trees, saw old motorcycles and cars, climbed fences and just enjoyed the scenery! We even stumbled upon an area of hammocks and another of roosters! Besides getting to see the beautiful castle my favorite part was walking in the tree walk - bridges linked between the trees. Of course with the giant shrubbery maze I couldn't help myself to pay tribute to the Goblet of Fire and take a picture like Cedric Diggory.

After the castle we had a traditional Danish buffet and then road a boat on the water before heading back to Copenhagen. Enjoy!
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