Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website

Today’s been a long day – I got about 5 hours of sleep last night. Today was a volunteering day at Shirley Park again. My group, Tom, Alexis, Kelsey, and I went to get the bus and train at 7am. Too early to get canteen breakfast, and we forgot to grab our croissants off the train last night (at least they were only 97p), so I ended up eating my Starbucks muffin, some of the others ate fruit or bought something at the station.

We got to the school around 8:30. Whenever I'm there, I feel a bit like I'm back in high school. Except inside. And people wear uniforms. We got to talk with some of the teachers who work with the English learners. There are a lot of students there who are refugees – we read some heartbreaking stories, about their parents being killed in front of them, riding into England hanging underneath lorries (trucks), and saw some of their writings. The one that really hit me was on a speech bubble of a bunch of students’ experiences, which said “Coming to London was dangerous. Stay home was even more dangerous.”  That’s very scary, especially hearing about what some people do to get here.  It gives a greater appreciation. They are eager to learn, and hopefully they will continue to have the resources to help them live in London. 

After that, we were able to sit in a class with some of the most troubled students in that year – which really provides a sense of prospective. They were learning about how to build a house (or rather what goes into it). I give the teachers props – they are very dedicated and very patient, and stern when they need to be. Though there were some moments of laughter and connection during what some may consider a more rowdy class, and those moments were wonderful.

We were walked down to the primary school, where we were able to talk to the kids there, the head boy and girl, and student council representative, and some others. They have houses too – like Hogwarts! (Or as I suspect, a British thing). We talked to them about different things – food, music, America, plays, museums, etc). Some of these kids really liked to make use of the London museums, and when asked about cultural identity, they associated it with nationality, which I thought was interesting. They were well mannered and very polite, and it was a pleasure to be able to speak with them. And sit on little chairs!

We had lunch, and ran into Liam and his friends again, who ate with us. It was really nice to see them all again. After lunch, we interviewed the history/citizenship teacher whose class we sat in yesterday, and then were able to sit in a French GCSE (that’s their big tests – think of it as an SAT subject test to get into 11th and 12th grade, which is called 6th form school here. Secondary goes up to year 11 (about US 10th grade), then they can go to 6th form school for 2 more years to study for A-Levels (those would be more like real SATs, but harder. Probably closer to AP’s/IB tests) to apply to university. So the idea of 11th and 12th grade IB makes a lot more sense now, if it’s more like a British model of schooling) class, and watch them translate and do some other classwork.

After our day at the school, we came back. Grabbed a banana bread slice at the East Croyden station because the baguette with (some, if you can call it that) chicken wasn't enough. (Got really jealous when I heard of some of the other groups' school's canteens. But I  We had a short meeting with Dave to talk about our film project, and I (finally) found some software to convert the mp4 video files into wmv so I can use the awesome Windows Movie Maker (better than Windows Live Movie Maker at least!) to work on the film. Most of tonight was spent on academic blogs by the group (and I also caught up on my Scotland blogs for personal use) – as well as singing with my computer, as ended up not doing our karaoke night out in London. I think I just ended up doing a lot of falsetto. Which Katie gave me some props on. Speaking of her, she has a bunch of pictures from the trip as her desktop background – which I would like to do. I have some amazing pictures from this trip, and I’d love to see them again! Time to do that before I sleep – the midnight academic blog deadline is approaching (8 minutes) – so I’ll do a bit, then get ready for tomorrow’s long day!

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