Connecting students’ experiences – Friendship Schools

Connecting students’ experiences – Friendship Schools

How do your students know their peers living in vastly different cultural settings?

Can they really connect?  What can they learn from one another?

Palms Australia has teachers working with young people from refugee camps on the Thai/Myanmar border; the atolls of Kiribati, where existence is threatened by climate change, and in Samoa where rugby champions are reared.  The students of course have so much more going on in their lives than what these single stories suggest.  Letting them talk directly with your students will expose many more life lessons on both sides.

Even without direct connections now possible via Friendship Schools, Anne Chapman, who taught in Timor Leste (TL) for two years (2011-12), valued the learning, especially for Australian students:

“While training teachers in Atabae, Timor Leste, I kept in contact with the private school from which I was on leave, returning several times and sharing my experiences.  One of the links made was by making a power point presentation entitled ‘A day in the life of Katarina and Leni’ which I showed to classes of the Australian primary girls.”

“Their lives were so different – In TL they wake before dawn to sweep; sort rice; light the fire; sometimes have breakfast (a bread roll); walk to school and park their books in the fork of a tree to keep them safe from the goats.  This brought the conversation to – What makes you happy? (Is it a new phone? Holidays? and Are Leni and Katarina happy? Why? ) This ppt also really helped to show our privileged private school girls that Leni and Katarina are similar in many ways- they loved animals, loved singing and dancing, loved their families and were indeed very happy.”

“My personal observation is that much of the happiness of the Atabae children could be attributed to the fact they were needed, they had vital roles to play in the family and in the community. They had purpose from a very young age and a strong sense of belonging and connectedness.  I asked our Australian girls if they would like to have Leni and Katarina as friends.  Hence the Grade 4 girls made friendship bands and we started a pen pal system – with pen and paper of course!”

Video conferencing now presents endless openings for connecting to develop awareness!

Your students will gain views informed by harsh reality, but also feel the hope of students who value the opportunities education provides.  In turn, your students can be agents of incalculable good for our global students.  

As Anthony Gittins reminds us in Ministry at the Margins such connections can:

“… begin to rehabilitate those with crushed self-esteem or verging on despair.  When strangers become recognizable as friends and are able to embrace and be embraced, they are transformed into a community of friends.”

Palms Australian teachers abroad will enable your students to come together as a community of friends.  Friends then work together to raise awareness, undertake further research, share cultural resources (such as music and prayer to enrich school ceremonies) and build global solidarity.

Palms Australia will assist you to become a Friendship School.  Complete your inquiry below:

    Feature image: Singing English songs with Liz OSullivan, Year 3, Klothor School Umphang, Thailand