The adventure began on the night of April 25 at the bus station in Zaragoza. The children Jael, Victor, Tomás, Marcos and Luna, students of the Madre Mª Rosa Molas School, took the bus to Madrid, with Laura Lago as the person in charge of ICIJA. After a long night at the airport, we set off for Brussels, where we arrived in the morning. On our arrival, we were expected by the organization of the fair to take us to the hotel to rest a little before getting to know Brussels. On our way to the centre, we met delegations from other countries, with whom we quickly established a friendship. The children enjoyed a visit around the European Parliament, the Grand Place and the Manneken Pis. They also had time to buy some souvenirs before dinner with the other countries participating in the fair. Afterwards, very tired, we returned to the hotel to recharge our batteries for the first day of the fair.
On April 27th we got up very early, looking forward to arriving at the place where we were going to expose our research projects for two days. As we entered the fair with the bus, we saw the great display organized to bring science closer to Belgian children and other visitors. The children prepared the stands, hung up their posters and took out the experiments with a great desire to start explaining their projects (with the challenge of doing it in English). After a very intense day, the evening gave way to the celebration of the “Cultural Evening”. Each country, through a video, a presentation or a regional dance, showed us the city where they came from and some of its traditions. We presented the city of Zaragoza talking about some of the city’s emblems such as La Aljafería or La Basílica del Pilar. We put in the background an Aragonese “jota”. After the presentation of all the countries, we moved on to dinner the food brought by the participants from each country. We sat down with the participants from Jerez de la Frontera and enjoyed the French cheese, the Turkish sweets and the exotic food from Taiwan.
On April 28th, the last day of the fair, we had more time to see other children’s projects so that we could enrich ourselves and learn from their research. It was very interesting to see how they had designed robots, created natural antibiotics or improved stains that are on the market to improve our quality of life. Besides, the children were able to enjoy the closing party of each of their themes (molecular, biological corner…) in which they had the opportunity to have fun, learn and make new friends. Outside the fair, they could play and ride some complicated bikes and also make 360º turns on a big wheel. It was time to dismantle the stands and collect everything. The kids were very satisfied after seeing the interest they had aroused in the visitors. Then we all went together to the centre of Brussels to do some last shopping and enjoy our last dinner. We said goodbye to some of the friends we had made, as they were leaving the next day, but we still had one more day to discover a new city, Bruges.
On April 29th, with a very cloudy sky, we went to the station to take the train to Bruges. The weather was not going to give us a break, but we were looking forward to visiting the city. We were able to catch a boat that took us through the beautiful canals of Bruges. The city left us amazed, despite the intermittent rain that accompanied us at all times. We ate the last waffle before returning to Brussels and visiting the Atomium with our Italian and Moroccan friends. After being astonished by the grandeur of the monument, we took the metro towards the centre and, to our surprise, it started to rain heavily. We ended up sheltered in an Italian restaurant where we had dinner and returned to the hotel with a bittersweet taste, since the next day we were returning to Zaragoza and it was time to say goodbye, to all the friends we had met. The children were delighted with the trip and wanted to present their ICIJA projects again at another fair so that they could continue learning, enriching themselves and exchanging experiences with participants from other countries.
By Laura Lago