Swindon teachers and pupils enjoyed visits from counterparts from partner schools in South Africa at the end of June.
As part of the global citizenship programme last November a group of Year 11 pupils from Greendown Community School in Grange Park visited Moriting Wa Thuto School in the Clarens district of the Free State and welcomed five pupils and two teachers on the return trip, including Miriam Mbambo who came to Greendown in 2005.
The Greendown girls (above) from Swindon and South Africa at the concert by Zimbabwe’s Albert Nyathi in the Old Town Bowl on 28 June.
In a busy week the visitors spent time in class and visiting tourist sites around Swindon and London. Miriam said, “it is difficult to believe that we are here. When we first made contact with Greendown many years ago, it was impossible to think that our friendship would be so warm and deep. We really feel at home here.”
Pupil Isodorina Khoarai, who partnered Kate Birch in November, said she was very pleased to make the return trip. “We have been welcomed with open arms, it is wonderful. Greendown is a very big school with so many learners and also computers. We have all been using the internet a lot.”
Kate and her family welcomed Isodorina to their home. “It has been fantastic to share our lives with our friends,” she said.
Her mother Alison had rallied friends and neighbours to help fundraise for the visits. “The exchanges have been life changing for the girls from both countries,” she said. “It has been an education for us all.”
Red Oaks Primary School in North Swindon hosted two children from Dihlabeng School in Clarens and their headteacher Margaret Grant who has now made several trips to Swindon.
Right, Margaret with Ntshadi and Gaby from Dihlabeng School
Ntshadi Jaque Mofokeng said there were lots of surprises at Red Oaks for her and fellow pupil Gabriella Dunkley. “At our school we don’t have girls playing football, but I liked playing it a lot at Red Oaks.
“Each classroom has a board like a computer for the teacher to press and it shows art and writing to all the children. It was my first time seeing this.
“And there are lockers to keep your things and children here take one month for a holiday. That’s a lot of time off.
“All the children were kind to me and Gabby; we now have a lot of new friends in Swindon.”
Above, Redhouse teachers putting on their own township rap after the children had their go with dynamic South African arts and drama teacher Coenie Venter who at Red Oaks and Wroughton Junior School for week to produce a musical called Township Jive which included traditional songs and dance as well as drumming.