17. 04. 2024

Alumni of the Open Future: We Have Great Memories of the Club. We Still Benefit from What We Learned

As sixth and seventh graders, they joined the Open Future program and attended dozens of excursions, field trips and lectures alongside school. These were hundreds of hours of fun, creative challenges and solving various problems.

They worked on projects, self-presentations or learned what it’s like to achieve a team goal. They got to know the digital technologies and were not afraid to stand up for their ideas and proposals, work on them, and proudly present them to parents, business experts, or successful startup founders. 

In the Trnava center, we had a rare visit after a long time. We chatted with a trio of alumni girls, now high school students Stela Hanzelová, Veronika Zittová, and Liana Kajanová. They ventured from their elementary school into the world, successfully getting to the high schools they chose. 

You are returning to the premises of the Trnava club after a long time, now as high school students. How does it feel? 

Stela: It’s the best feeling! With the other kids, we laughed during our time at the club, but at the same time, we worked on things that meant a lot to us. Coming back here reminded me of the moments with people I got along with and felt good with. We worked, created, relaxed and played. Above all, we found a safe place where we could confide if something troubled us, without being judged. 

Veronika: I like to recall afternoons at the club, spending time with friends we didn’t see in our class and didn’t have a chance to spend time with otherwise. Even when we worked on projects, we enjoyed that time. 

Liana: I also fondly remember activities outside the club. We attended a camp together, where we bonded even more, talked about everything and had a great time. 

What do you consider the main added value of being part of the Open Future alongside school? 

Liana: We improved in presenting, learned how to prepare and deliver presentations to others. We use that even at high school. We learned how to program microbits. Thanks to that, I continued in this field when starting high school. 

Veronika: We often worked on things in teams and learned how to collaborate. Even those who were afraid to participate felt supported here. We cheered each other up and helped each other within groups. We didn’t leave anyone behind and tried to work on the projects together. Thanks to the Open Future, we formed friendships outside of our class groups, and some of us are still friends today. 

Stela: We learned how to plan, we worked on projects, and that’s very useful for everyone, also later in high school. At the same time, we also formed new relationships. It wasn’t just about education. A great added value was the presence of a coordinator, in our case Dominika. Suddenly, we had someone who wasn’t a teacher; we had the opportunity to talk about things informally, she radiated great energy and interest. She did a lot for us, always improving our mood and she deserves praise for that. 

Stela reminisced about the summer camp of the Open Future and there was a lot to laugh about.

How did participation in the program help you with the selection or acceptance to high school? 

Stela: I always knew I wanted to go to a pedagogical school. However, I know other classmates who attended the club and didn’t know where to apply for high school found help in this matter here. Dominika and others from the Open Future worked with us on this matter, so several managed to choose the high school that suited them best.  

At the end of the three-year program cycle, graduating third graders have an Expo. There they present their projects to the parents and the partners of our program. How do you remember this highlight of your three years in the Open Future? 

Veronika: I remember that we were preparing for the Expo for a long time. We received assignments and worked on projects and presentations. There are many great things, we meet with other participants from other places, get to know each other. There’s a prepared program and conversations, parents and teachers see what we work on in the clubs. It’s also an excellent showcase of the program for those who haven’t decided whether to join it yet. 

Stela: Expo is a powerful moment, the culmination of our efforts. Elementary school ends, and you wonder how it all could have passed so quickly. I was worried about going to high school and new people coming, but it’s great that even after elementary school, we stay in touch. 

Liana: There are a lot of things that have to be prepared for Expo. I learned how to bake muffins (laughs). So, planning and preparing the whole event, including catering and other things, is excellent practice. 

Veronika is now studying at the Secondary Industrial School of Constructions. At the Open Future centre in Trnava she for example learned how to prepare her own presentation.

If you were to recommend younger students who are deciding whether to become part of the Open Future program today, what would you tell them? 

Liana: Don’t hesitate. I always talked to my parents about the experiences from the club, they were glad I found something meaningful, and it’s definitely time better spent than sitting at home. And the most important thing is that you do something for yourself outside of school. 

Veronika: If they have the opportunity, they should go for it because it’s probably the best decision they can make. You get very well prepared for future challenges here. You’ll find people you can rely on and who are ready to help. It’s a wonderful space where you’ll make great memories. They’ll stay with you forever. I miss the Open Future and I would definitely do it all over again. 

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