Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Day Six: Visits to Schools and Camden Council

Today the women went in their different groups to visit schools and meet with Camden Councillors. Here are some reports of the day...

By Caitlin Proctor (Hanin's buddy, yellow group)

On Wednesday morning I met the girls at La Sainte Union School where Katy, their host dropped them off. We were met by Erica Malcomson, and showed around the school before heading to a year 7 PE lesson, where the girls taught a Dabkeh class. This was a fantastic morning which was enjoyed by everyone. The girls split the class into two, and taught them different Dabkeh steps to music which they had brought with them - they children really loved it! Towards the end of the session we brought all the children together into a big group dance. The teacher was extremely positive about this session and the girls left as the children were shouting ‘Please come back soon!’. Erica had prepared tea and cakes in the staff room during the break, which gave the girls the opportunity to meet and speak to a variety of teachers at the school.

We left the school around lunch time, and the girls headed off for a walk up Parliament Hill with another volunteer, at which point I sadly had to leave. I met up with them again at 8pm at KTCC on Greenwood place, where we ate all together and discussed how the trip was going so far, which was a positive and productive discussion.

By Safaa Usmani (Samah's buddy, purple group)

As the morning activity had been cancelled, me and my dad decided to act on an issue that had been raised at the meeting the night before- that women in Palestine don’t ride bikes. We took Samah and Fatmeh to the local square to teach them how to ride a bike. It turned out, however, that both of them already knew how! Lost in translation...

We then went to Tower Hamlets College for more question-and-answer style meetings. This was much more successful as the meeting had been well advertised and a particular ESOL class had prepared many interesting questions for Samah and Fatmeh. The students were also older and more sympathetic to the cause. I thought the questions were really interesting as well and I got myself involved in some stimulating discussions. The girls exchanged emails with many of the students and wanted to stay for longer to chat, but we had an impossibly tight schedule to keep to.

We were still half an hour late for Forest Gate Community School, so we missed the majority of a lesson we were supposed to speak in. However, the lesson had been pretty badly organised anyway, with nothing said as to what was expected of us. So the girls just gave their spiel. The students did have some surprisingly intelligent questions despite how young they were (13-14 yrs old). At the year 9 assembly, Samah said to me, “please don’t tell me it’s question and answer again.” It was.

When we finished at 2.30pm we went to Primark, which the girls had been looking forward to. From there I dropped them at the ice skating, which I hear they enjoyed, except Fatmeh fell over and bruised herself. It was lovely having two more quests, Isra’a and Nadia, staying with us, though difficult to get them all out the house in the morning!
The women prepare to skate


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