Grade 6’s on tour with students from the Utrecht Stedelijk Gymnasium
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Grade 6’s on tour with students from the Utrecht Stedelijk Gymnasium

Students from the Utrecht Stedelijk Gymnasium (USG) acted as tour guides for our grade 6’s. They took them on a walking tour through Utrecht city centre. Juliana: ‘I was a bit nervous beforehand, but it is actually really nice’.

By Ingrid Schmoutziguer, communications

USG students Juliana and Malek who are both in 4 Gymnasium (grade 10) are very happy to meet with Laksha, Saaimaegha, Zarina, Khushi and Saindhavi and it doesn’t take long before they’ve found some things in common. Malek finds it really interesting to find out that Laksha and Saaimaegha speak English at school and Tamil at home, whereas she herself is fluent in Arabic and Dutch and learning English and French at the moment. ‘I totally fit in this group too’, says Juliana whose mother is French and father is Turkish. Introductions made, it is time to start with their tour.

The Inktpot

First stop is the Inktpot, build between 1918 en 1921 by NS, the Dutch railway company. This was once the largest brick building in the Netherlands. ‘They used 22 million bricks to make this building’, says Juliana whose turn it is to tell the group about the history. ‘And to get enough wood for the inside of the building and the furniture they even bought a forest in Limburg’. Laksha: ‘A forest? Wow!’ Then she wants to know what the round thing is on the roof. ‘It’s an art work and it’s called UFO’, explains Juliana. Laksha: ‘It looks exactly like a flying saucer’.

Time to move on and have a look at the Catharijnesingel, where it is Malek’s turn to talk to the group. She explains how at some point the canals were filled in to create a road, but that this now has been reversed. ‘It was only opened last year’, she says. ‘And if you go into the mall, Hoog Catharijne, on the ground floor you can see boats going under the glass floor’. The grade 6 girls all take pictures. ‘It is so beautiful’, says Saaimaegh. Juliana couldn’t agree more: ‘I just love nature!’

Activities week

The walking tour project is part of the yearly activities week, explains Juliana. ‘We only started preparing for it yesterday’, she says. ‘I was actually a bit nervous today before the tour, but it is so much better than I expected. I thought the children wouldn’t be interested in the old buildings and history, but that isn’t true; they immediately started to ask questions!’

‘Preparing the walking tour wasn’t so easy for the pupils’, says Mr Kleine, physics teacher at Utrecht Stedelijk Gymnasium, who is accompanying his students. ‘They all wanted to do too much, show all the sights in Utrecht, without considering the fact that their audience were 11 and 12-yo children.’ According to Mr Kleine, the most important thing his pupils will learn from the project is how to interact with the international students making sure everyone has a good time.

Talking to the children and making sure everyone feels comfortable and happy, is definitely something Juliana and Malek excel at. They happily discuss dog persons versus cat persons, biggest fears, old buildings and being vegetarian or not with their group and I am pretty sure that all of them are having a wonderful time.

Princes and princesses

From the Catharijnesingel, we walk towards the Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht, where Juliana talks to the girls about the wharf cellars. When she crosses the road and leads the group into Pausdam towards the Dom tower, they all ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ah’ and take their time to take tons of pictures. When the group enters the monastery garden (the Pandhof) of the Dom Cathedral in Utrecht, Saindhavi sighs: ‘It’s so beautiful. It’s just like a castle where princes and princesses live’. Malek smiles: ‘It’s really nice that they love Utrecht as much as I do!’.