In my efforts to actively raise awareness of my trip to Rwanda, I engaged and empowered the Duke of Edinburgh group to help me fundraise. Together, they decided on fun and profitable fundraising initiatives such as making and selling hot chocolate and, developing and selling a quiz. The students took full responsibility for promoting both initiatives, helping me reach my fundraising target whilst raising awareness of my trip across the school.
At a class level, I wanted to generate enquiry and discussion before my trip. The adventure was new to me and to my students and I was keen that any discussion or questions we had before my trip, should be followed up with lessons when I returned. This multi-stage approach helped me to plan ahead and think about the information I needed to take back to school. Successful lessons included:
Postcards: My S2 students created postcards of Scotland, which I took to Rwanda and was able to use as a resource to support English literacy lessons with Rwandan students in S3. To ensure it was reciprocal, I asked the Rwandan students to write postcards back to my students; they contain a real mix of detail and are a rich learning resource which I am currently developing a structured lesson plan for.
The Life Goals Project: I worked with my S3 students to baseline their perceptions of the ambitions of young people in Rwanda. Before my placement, I asked my students to think about their own life goals and compare them to what they thought the goals of Rwandans (the same age as them) would be. The answers were very stereotypical and included phrases like “having enough to eat” and “having clean water”. To establish if this was true, I asked S5 and S6 Rwandan students about their life goals and I filmed their answers. Upon return to St Machar, I showed the students I had worked with (pre-placement) the video clips; they were astounded to hear that the Rwandan students had pretty much the same aspirations for success as them. The discussion that followed was really rich. An exercise like this really helps to challenge stereotypes and perceptions; it focuses on the similarities and goes some way towards bridging the barriers that exist between “them and us”.