School for life 2: a personal experience
It was 23 September 2018. We departed for Denmark - Teo and myself. I had heard about the Danish Folk High schools, but I was wondering what they really were. When we arrived in Denmark, we met Peter - our main teacher at Brenderup Folk High School. We began talking about what impressed me in Denmark - the ordered houses with extremely steep straw roofs ... Big white churches with graveyards around them, wide flat fields and forests fenced with hedges, low apple trees full of fruits. We arrived hungry and exhausted, when a small group of students in the school welcomed us at the door. They offered us food and hot tea and their company. The next day we started with breakfast and a song. But then we were greeted in an unusual way – the school residents were clattering on the tables and shouting of "Welcome". Even before I could say the name of the city correctly, all the students at the school had already remembered our names.
We started "classes"; we met each other in our working group - 7 people from Poland and the two of us from Bulgaria. The working task was to make a small clay oven. Everyone started realizing their own, individual, ideas of an oven. When we were all ready, we lit a fire, and this was the first exam - some ovens cracked, others collapsed ...That was a very good lesson we had all learnt. The next day we started a spectacular project - to make a big, real oven, to bake bread, but this time collaborating with each other. We were thinking and talking about how we can complete the project - we looked for information about the size of the oven inside and outside (so the air inside to circulate correctly), how many and how thick the walls should be, and so on. Everything was discussed, and after that we started building. Everyone of us had their own task and, in spite of the difficulties with language, we understood each other and worked as a “clock” mechanism. We spent the evenings with the local students - we played football, volleyball and billiards, listened to music, watched the world cup in volleyball, and after a few days, we become close friends.
Day after day, with open hearts, we did not realize how we were absorbing knowledge and emotions. It is difficult to appreciate your own knowledge, but when you meet with people from other cultures and with understandings of life, you start comparing your behavior and viewpoints, you look deep inside yourself - and this is the first step towards personal growth. The Folk High School offers you many opportunities to develop and rediscover yourself.
We visited the House of Mr. Bjorn Wickstrom, who offered us an alternative version of Faraday's cage – a new construction with old building approaches. Living in a house made of organic materials is much healthier and more enjoyable than living in concrete cells. A house built of clay offers you the possibility of personally arranging and decorating the walls and the heater. Practical solutions for a more responsible way of life.
The second week was devoted to working with wood - most of us had experience with this material, and the tasks were accomplished quickly. We made shelters for storing wood materials; we changed the railings for the tower house; we built a mobile chicken house.
The third week was dedicated to the OFF-GRID HOUSE. Ideas and realization of systems for use and conversion of heat, connection of different energy sources, use and maintenance of closed water circuit ... It is a unique experience to feel yourself as part of the world and as being its main arranger - living in your own home determine the development of the whole ecosystem. The house is built of clay, straw and wood upon a thick layer of shells. The shells serve as a drainage of the foundations. The rainwater is collected in a reservoir at the base of the house. The water is mechanically filtered to the molecular level it is used for bathroom and toilet. The waste materials from the toilet are collected in a special tank which then naturally feeds the Summer Garden of the house (or the GREEN HOUSE). There are solar panels attached to the roof of the Green House, generating electricity in the summertime. In the winter, the house benefits from special heat exchangers, attached to the fireplace ... The entire heating system is centralized and connected to all possible users and transmitters. This kind of electricity supplement ensures an all-year satisfaction of the house's own needs. And if you think about it, it is not so difficult to reconstruct your own village house or flat using ideas from the OFF-GRID HOUSE.
School of life! “We were part of one whole…When we arrived at the school, we were alone, but nobody left us to feel alone. There were people from all over the world, with different religions and races. But despite the differences, we were all equal and friends.”- Teo says.
The time spent in the school taught me to appreciate Life - not only mine or of the people around me, but the life of all inhabitants on planet Earth. We are all guests here and have to learn to take care of each other and to help those who cannot help themselves. If we want to have a “tomorrow”, we need to learn how to live today.
“You can take a horse to the river, but you cannot make it drink!”. This saying charges us with the responsibility to show people how to appreciate and protect the environment; to show them alternative lifestyles, aimed at happiness and care for the future. We cannot make them happy, but we can show them in what direction to go. This is the only way the horse can drink water after all!
The main purpose of all of us is to be happy! And to be happy, you need to get to know yourself and to accept yourself! You need to learn to live in harmony with other people and the environment!
* А training course on Sustainable Development took place in Brenderup, Denmark, in the period 23.09 -13.10.2018, as part of an Erasmus + project. Botanica Life Foundation was represented by Donka Apostolova – a volunteer at the foundation and Teodora Todorova – a volunteer at Botanica Life and a student at the Vocational School of Agriculture in Popovo.