Stonelaw stu­dents on an African ad­ven­ture

Pupils bring friend­ship to lessons at Mtu­batauba

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

Four Ruther­glen school pupils will next week step out of the class­room at Stonelaw High and into lessons at Ikusasalethu High School.

Calum Lof­tus, 16, Alexander Ful­ton, 16, Rebecca May, 16, and Meg McA­teer, 17, will spend two weeks at the South African high school as part of a global school part­ner­ship visit.

For­mally es­tab­lished six years ago, the part­ner­ship be­tween the schools of­fers Ruther­glen stu­dents the chance to learn at Ikusasalethu High School and gives South African teach­ers the op­por­tu­nity to teach in a Scot­tish class­room.

The 2017 team of stu­dents are the sixth set of young­sters to em­bark on a South African ad­ven­ture.

But the stu­dents have been learn­ing about the Mtu­batauba re­gion for a few years as mem­bers of Stonelaw High School’s fair trade team.

The group sells fair trade items and uses prof­its to pay for school uni­forms for young peo­ple at­tend­ing Ikusasalethu High.

Stu­dents at the two schools have also been writ­ing to each other as pen pals for sev­eral years.

The trip will be par­tic­u­larly spe­cial for Meg as she will fi­nally meet her pen pal, 17-year-old Nelly Ma­tine.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to meet­ing my pen pal,” Meg said, “I have been in con­tact with her for three years.

“We have grown close over the years, she’s just like me in South Africa. I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to get­ting to know her more. It will be the first time we will be able to meet and see each other prop­erly.”

Cal­lum added: “It will be good to see how peo­ple my age are in South Africa. Al­though I don’t have a pen pal, it will be good to see the faces be­hind the let­ters.”

All of the stu­dents are ex­cited to see how their coun­ter­parts learn in ru­ral South Africa. They are aware there can be up to 80 stu­dents in each class and the in­ter­net and tech­nol­ogy they have be­come so ac­cus­tomed to learn­ing with will not be there.

Rebecca said she wants to learn more about African mu­sic and cul­ture, adding: “I study higher mu­sic and there is a ukulele in my case.”

Meg and Alexander study higher ge­og­ra­phy are have ex­plored the ef­fects of Aids on African com­mu­ni­ties. Their trip to Mtu­batauba will al­low them to see th­ese ef­fects first hand. The stu­dents will be ac­com­pa­nied on their trip by tech­nol­ogy and de­sign teacher Saphna Joshi and English teacher Gil­lian Gillen and re­tired Stonelaw teacher Iso­bel Gilchrist.

Mrs Gilchrist, who will be vis­it­ing Mtu­batauba for the eleventh time, said: “It is a very ed­u­ca­tional trip. We hope the pupils who go feel em­pow­ered, along with the part­ners they meet, to re­search, dis­cuss and de­bate con­tem­po­rary global is­sues that are close to their hearts and find out how the cul­ture and his­tory in South Africa and the UK has con­trib­uted to that.”

Ru­glo­ni­ans can fol­low the stu­dents’ progress on the trip by log­ging on to their blog: https://mar­c2017­com.word­press.com/

Ex­change stu­dents Calum Lof­tus, Rebecca May, Meg McA­teer and Alexander Ful­ton fly out on Jan­uary 20

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