We have strong links with our partner school Daqing Foreign Language School. For the past two years we have hosted up to 20 of their students for seven weeks, between January and March. This gives the opportunity for them to discover the English education system along with our culture. We also invested a lot of time in building relationships between staff and students from both schools by going to the cinema, a football match and having after school Chinese lessons. 20 of our Year 10 students will be travelling to Daqing and Beijing in October 2019 with 3 members of staff to stay in their school and look at the differences between Chinese and the English education systems and their culture. They will also have the opportunity to be a tourist in Beijing.
Immersion Project – India
As part of our mission to put our Christian ethos into practice and our commitment to the Edmund Rice network of schools, we have an exciting opportunity for our sixth form students. We have developed some close links with the different outreach projects in India over the last two years.
The aim of the immersion experience is to work with students and teachers at schools for children from the slums. We also worked with orphans in a Mother Teresa orphanage. In addition we worked with the ‘9 is Mine’ project, an advocacy agency for children and young people. We were in India for approximately 10 days.
The students who travelled with us to India this year have returned to the UK with a completely different outlook on life.
On the 12th February 2016 the second annual St. Aidan’s Delhi Immersion project began, with 12 students and 4 staff travelling to New Delhi, India.
The 5,000 mile journey saw the group travel from Newcastle to Dubai, and then Dubai onto Delhi – which took a total of 11 hours flight time with a 5 hour stopover in Dubai Airport.
Arriving into Delhi the group took a metro from the airport to Delhi’s main hub, Connaught place. Upon arrival into Connaught place, the group were immediately confronted with the desperate reality which is the huge number of homeless and poverty stricken people which populate the streets of Delhi. The journey from the station to our accommodation served as very stark introduction to the problems which we would witness during our stay.
In our first few days there we were struck by the imbalance of wealth, a large amount of the population were in severe poverty and many families were living on the street with very few possessions. What really stood out for us however was how very happy these people were, so immensely grateful for what they did have. Despite being so worse off than ourselves there was no complaining or expression of unhappiness from the large numbers of people whom we witnessed living in poverty. This had a big impact on the group and in our nightly reflections we often discussed the things that we take for granted back at home. These reflections were a great experience for all of us as this gave us the opportunity to look back at what we had done during each day.
During the project we worked with a variety of organisations which aim to help the huge number of people in India whom live in poverty. A large proportion of the trip was spent helping out in St. Columba’s school as part of their ‘9 is mine’ campaign, which focussed on achieving 9% of India’s budget to be spent upon the healthcare and education of children. We also met domestic workers – women who had often be trafficked, lived as slaves or abused, and alongside them we attended a demonstration for equal rights of women. We spent several days teaching and working with children who lived in slum areas, delivering workshops on their rights. This was eye-opening as we discovered that many of the children had been denied many basic rights for the entirety of their lives, such as the right to education. We noticed while teaching the children that they were very happy to receive an education and were excited to come to the school and learn more. Their enthusiasm to learn and play games was great to see. Their situation made it easy to forget that they were still just children, who wanted to play. Spending time with them we saw that they had no choice but to act with such maturity beyond their years – India’s streets doesn’t allow for the innocence of youth.
Perhaps the most emotional part of trip was the time we spent at Mother Teresa’s orphanage. Most of the children were girls and many of them had severe disabilities leaving them unable to walk and speak. Despite their inabilities they were expected by the government to leave the orphanage during their early teenage years. Spending time looking after them and hearing what their futures held was quite upsetting for all of us. We all however enjoyed our time there – things like making them laugh were the things we remembered most.
Overall the trip was a fantastic experience for every single person who went upon it – each individual have their own memories and elements of the trip which have left a mark upon our own lives forever. We hope that future immersion groups will continue where we left off and will have similarly live changing and enriching experiences.