Deeside students’ trip of a lifetime

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A group of pupils and staff from Aboyne Academy and other students from Deeside have taken part in their own Euro “summit” with a visit to the village’s twin, Martignas-sur-Jalle, near Bordeaux.

They were involved in the N8 project, which brought together young people from the French town, Aboyne, Santa Cruz de Bezana in Spain and Nafplio in Greece to share and celebrate their cultures.

The project had been in the pipeline for over a year and was the ambitious vision of Matthieu Puig and his team in Martignas-sur-Jalle.

They hoped to empower students to develop their understanding of citizenship, languages, sustainability and culture. The eight days that were organised achieved these goals and so much more.

In liaison with the local Twinning Association, Aboyne Academy sent 18 S4 students and two teachers across the channel to embark on an adventure of a lifetime.

The trip began with an early start at Aberdeen International Airport and a dash through Amsterdam Airport to make a connecting flight.

When the party arrived in Bordeaux, they were met with beaming smiles and a Scottish flag waving proudly in the air.

A warm opening ceremony followed with the N8 project team and support from the Twinning Association of Martignas.

Students met their host families and were off to immerse themselves in French life, language and culture.

What at first seemed daunting soon became a pleasure as families welcomed them all into their homes with open hearts.

The visit involved a busy programme of events including trips and various activities.

Aboyne students gave their continental partners the chance to take part in a mini Highland Games, shortbread-making and a ceilidh.

The opportunity to make new friendships was hailed as the greatest element of the get-together with the young people from four nations uniting through shared stories, experiences, meals, jokes, games and laughter.

Aboyne Twinning Association chairman Gavin Jones said the students all did themselves proud.

He added: “This was a truly unique experience for the pupils of Aboyne Academy.

“With 18 pupils from Aboyne and Deeside, Santa Cruz de Bezana in Spain and Nafplio in Greece and several schools in Martignas-Sur-Jalle near Bordeaux, coming together for a week it was a great opportunity for new friendships and lessons to be learned on how others work.

“We were especially happy to welcome pupils from Braemar, Ballater and Torphins - as well as Aboyne - on the trip and none of this would have been possible without the generosity of our members and the support we receive through the functions we run.”