October 26, 2017

Joanna, Fatima and I had a meeting to determine how the relationship between Speak Street and CAP was progressing. On our agenda was to find out how she was feeling about CAPs involvement in the program, the integration of our volunteers, and what we wanted to build on going ahead, specifically on the subject of “sensitive subjects”.

When asked about CAPs volunteers, Joanna said she was “overwhelmed” by the response she had had, and the quantity and quality of volunteers. She only had positive words for all of us, how well and how quickly we had integrated into the group, and how much the suppo...

October 25, 2017

As thirty-two volunteers and refugee students sit down to practice English language skills after everyone has had a sandwich and poured themselves a cup of tea, the room falls unusually silent.

We are reading through the exercises on our worksheets. The silence is short lived. In a few minutes, the room erupts in excited chatter. I hear snippets of the conversations around me. Thrills me to hear the group get excited about decoding something so many of us take for granted. Daily life.

This is the gist of the questions:

You are at the post office, do you:

1) Cut to the front of the queue and t...

October 25, 2017

Gender issues from Field mission for Developments in Literacy – Khairpur, rural Sindh
DIL School location: Rind–Nowa (local ngo partner)
Newsrooms skills workshop and the inspiring content the students of DIL’s Rind school generated.
Workshop in Confidence Building, designed to develop and sharpen critical thinking skills and challenge gender issues around a woman’s ability and right to analyse situations and make quick, effective decisions, also teaches students to identify relevant information quickly.
Workshop title Newsroom skills, workshops is disguised as a game where students pretend to rep...

October 18, 2017

"You burn body of man in Guy Fawkes fire."

"You lie."

These aren't accusations, although you could perceive them as such. But they aren't the kind of statements I was prepared to hear as we sat down to English language practice.

I was seated between Emmanuel from Congo, Ronin from Sri Lanka, Angel from Congo and another lady (who will go unnamed) as we begin our discussion on UK festivals, ways to participate in our communities and how to enjoy the city of London by attending free events arranged by community clubs, and public interest groups.

“We have same festivals in my country,

we know New...

October 18, 2017

We are at the Kindness Initiative in Kings Cross and I am seated between four individuals two young Congolese girls, an elderly Syrian gentleman and a Kurdish man, perhaps thirty years old.

Using a worksheet an English teacher handed us called ‘Leisure activities in the UK’ we discuss football, sky diving, deep sea diving and golfing and paintballing. The worksheet is covered in comics that visually articulate the concept.

The questions are: what excites you? what bores you? what frightens you?

The responses threw me off slightly. The Syrian refugee stabs the comic illustrating a man shooting pai...

October 18, 2017

"I only speaking Tamil, only I speak English here. But I want to try," he reassures me.

We are using a worksheet that looks like a game and we need to move through a spiral like maze to ask each other what we enjoy, or, as the title says, what our favourite movies, music, hobbies, passions, etc are. A simple enough exercise, but the answers it unearths leave me disheartened.

The story of his journey inwards, his path to isolation starts to unfold.

He listens to Tamil music, watches Tamil films hosted by a cultural club and the only people who are kind to him are some Tamils who own a grocery...

October 18, 2017

An attack by evil spirits is not something we had been prepared to discuss on a sunny fall afternoon, but there it was.

We had been strolling through the European Jewellery gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum with our refugee student crew, when Rebecca (from Congo) said: “I like jewellery but I don’t wear it, you don’t know what spirit is inside, many witch they make the spirit inside the jewellery then who wears it can die, so I don’t wear this. The spirit will come.”

Rebecca, who had been in the UK about three months, became increasingly animated, her eyes flitting from one piece to anot...

October 18, 2017

Our Tuesday session was on local and domestic issues; reading from worksheets. We broke away into smaller groups, 2 volunteers to 5 or 6 students each. The session was about local and domestic issues, from council and rubbish to conflict resolution; but one question stood out from the others. The question which was along the lines of “what should you do if you and your wife are going through a rough patch”. This simple question brought on an interesting conversation about women. At first the question was answered by the group in a considered manner, to work together to resolve conflict, to bri...

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