Learning, understanding and awareness — along with a little singing, dancing and cooking!

22 May 2014

Our thanks to the various schools participating in the Friends of Londiani School Network Programme for their enthusiasm and support. Today we round off our two-part review of the recent visit of ten teachers from Londiani to Ireland with a description of a busy week - supplied by the partner schools themselves. So now it’s over to them… Cultural sharing is one of the aims of the Friends of Londiani School Network Programme, and our ten visiting teachers from Londiani certainly experienced a fair amount of local culture during their stay last week. In the secondary schools, they were asked to be judges in Come Dine With Me competitions, they played hurling and Gaelic football, and they awarded prizes in the schools' annual awards night. But the sharing went both ways. For example, the teachers taught the Irish students some Kiswahili, and also how to make Kenyan mandazis . All of which contributed to a wonderful atmosphere of sharing with each other and wanting to reduce stereotypes so as to make this world a better place for all. As part of the exchange, the teachers visited many cultural events, including a wonderful performance of The Cloak in Drogheda on the day they arrived. Each school also displayed the talents of its pupils and staff through musicals, dances and choir performances. Echoes of the Kiswahili song ‘Jambo, Jambo Bwana’ could still be heard in school corridors the morning after it was performed! In fact there were many ideas exchanged that will help the schools, the communities and the teachers themselves as individuals to gain a global understanding of the issues facing us all. Everyone was able to move from a basic awareness of international development issues, through an understanding of the causes and effects of global issues, to personal involvement and informed action by the end of the week - which is, of course, a major aim of the Friends of Londiani School Network Programme. It might sound like all work for the visiting teachers but their hosts ensured that there was some time off to see the countryside as well. Visits to Clonmacnoise, Trinity College, local farms, Cragganaun, Croagh Patrick, beaches, Japanese Gardens and Glendalough, as well as fishing trips, hill walks in Wicklow and a few trips to the cinema, were all included. In Kenya, the sun rises at around 6am and sets 12 hours later. Here in Ireland at the moment the sun rises at about 5am and is setting at about 10pm so the long days were a challenge for some as we tried to pack everything into a school week! Sincere thanks to the Kenyan teachers, the host schools and Friends of Londiani who make this learning experience possible. The project is funded by Irish Aid’s WorldWise Global Schools programme and we are all grateful for their support. The outcomes from this visit have far exceeded the intended aims and objectives and the long-term impact will be felt in the homes and communities of all involved in Ireland and in Kenya.