Block 4 students attended WE day at the Wembley arena on 22 March as part of the First Give charity follow-up and to learn more about putting the WE ethos into practice.
WE is a youth empowerment movement that brings people together for service, learning and active citizenship. The key message is to help shift the notion of “me” to “we.” The charitable arm, WE Charity, is an international development charity that partners with communities to help lift themselves out of poverty using a holistic, sustainable five-pillar development model based on education, clean water and sanitation, health, opportunity and food.
The event in London brought together world-renowned speakers and A-list performers such as Kate Winslet, The Vamps, international human rights advocate, Maria Munir and education activist Muzoon Al-Mellehan and tens of thousands of young people to celebrate a year of action that transformed communities and changed lives. View photos.
This was the brainchild of Head of Global Awareness, Annabel Smith and marks a ‘first’ for Bedales. It was fascinating discussing Trump and Brexit while live with the American Politics students and gave interesting insights into Trump and American Politics; for instance the students did not seem worried by the fact that Trump got three million fewer votes than Clinton, explaining that this ensured that low density population rural states were not eclipsed by high density liberal cities.
The American students were interested in how we viewed Brexit. We had our Brexit-favouring expert George McMenemy to offer a considered reflection, ably assisted in the discussion by Kirstine Gernaa-Knudsen and Tom Reynolds. Lake Forest were interested in the link between Brexit and Nationalism and the whole question of immigration where we found links with America and much to discuss.
This was a distinctly different and refreshing lesson and we hope to repeat the exercise form time to time. Thanks to Lewis and Bedales ICT for setting up the technology and especially to Annabel for pursuing her contact at Lake Forest to such a fruitful end.
By Godelieve de Bree, 6.2 and Global Awareness Don
Last Thursday Global Awareness held its annual Hunger Banquet in aid of Mosaic Initiative, a charitable group that helps displaced Syrians settle into new lives and plans for a long term solution in Syria.
On their way in to the banquet, participants randomly chose a ticket which was to represent their status for the evening. These tickets had a brief description of an individual that one could find in their bracket of wealth. While the ‘wealthiest’ minority was given a range of delicious treats – including cheesy crackers, cordial and even Gu puddings, the least fortunate had to sit on the floor and were only given a bowl of rice and an apple.
The evening really facilitated conversation about the disparity of wealth and opportunity and really made students confront their fortune. The evening ended with a viewing of Before the Flood, a documentary which follows actor Leonardo DiCaprio as he learns about the realities of climate change. This gave a real insight into the frightening effects of Global Warming and the impact that is already being felt on the global food supply. Thank you to everyone who came and everyone who helped to organise such a great night – we raised over £500!
Last Thursday Lele Jones visited 6.1 historians to talk to them about her experience of growing up in South Africa under apartheid. It was an extraordinary privilege to hear first-hand about her family’s history in Sophiatown, and then, after their forced removal, in Soweto. Witness to both the outrages of daily life and such turning points as the uprising of Soweto school children in 1976 and the death of Steve Biko, Lele’s memories brought home the reality of a situation that’s often very hard for outsiders to understand.
Lele brought her pass with her for us to see – one of the hated passes that triggered the Sharpeville massacre and tyrannised the lives of millions of black South Africans. She also showed us her ‘Homelands’ travel document which was issued by the apartheid government in place of a South African passport, but this was not recognised by the international community, thus making foreign travel very difficult.
Perhaps the most important journey she ever made was to Botswana, to marry Bedales Maths teacher, Martin Jones. Because their marriage was illegal in South Africa, and different races were segregated into separate urban areas, they soon moved to England. Lele told of her panic on finding herself on the same bus as white people, forgetting momentarily that this was not illegal here. Because of stories such as this – powerfully bringing to life the words of the A level text books – and Lele’s quietly fierce appeal to never be bystanders in the face of injustice, we are already looking forward to her coming back to visit us again. Next time she is going to sing!
Click on the image below to read a news article published in The News, 1990:
Swaziland is currently suffering from a wide spread drought and the lack of availability of water in rural areas is having a major effect on the people who live there. Over October half term, 25 6.2s went to Swaziland to work with the rural Ngwenyameni School to install a water system which allows the school to access the more reliable underground supplies of water.
The school was introduced to us by SKRUM, a local charity that works in sport and HIV education in over 800 schools in Swaziland. Bedales students raised money over ten months before the trip and saw this money being used to provide a solar powered water pump. Alongside pupils from Ngwenyameni School, Bedales students dug out the trenches for the new pipes and improved the environment in which the children learn by painting the classrooms and upcycling over 80 desks which were found in storage in an unusable state.
The new water supply will aid in the teaching of agriculture at the school, and a new field was ploughed and fruit trees planted – which the school was very keen to have. The Bedalians on the trip also spent time playing with and getting to know the children at Ngwneyameni. On our final day at the school, all of the pupils and teachers gathered outside to watch the Ngwenyameni vs Bedales football match. It was an intense game, ending with a 3-1 victory to Ngwneyameni. Football is very popular at the school and we paid for some new sports equipment from the monies raised. It was a very busy ten days in which the 6.2s enjoyed time in the beautiful country of Swaziland and were able to see the difference the money they had raised will make to Ngwenyameni School.
Bedales School’s annual Global Awareness Lecture was held last week and focused on the role of journalism in promoting in-depth engagement with global issues through innovative reporting and education.
Jon Sawyer, veteran foreign correspondent and director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington DC, US, spoke passionately to the audience of students and parents about falling standards and freedom of speech.
After decades in the field, reporting from around 60 countries, he founded the non-profit Pulitzer Center to support independent reporting from around the world and to work with schools
His work has been honoured by investigative reporters and editors, the Overseas Press Club, the Inter-American Press Association, and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Jon was selected three years in a row for the National Press Club’s prize for best foreign reporting.
Head of Global Awareness at Bedales, Annabel Smith said: “Before the lecture, Jon met with five groups of students of all ages and talked about a range of global issues from the Middle East to water rights, the upcoming US election and the future of journalism. He also spoke at length to a number of students with a special interest in print, video and photo-journalism and it was a real benefit for our students to have such one-to-one expert guidance.”
Annabel added: “Jon represents the very best traditions of reporting from the darkest corners of the world. He not only spent decades in the field, but through creating the Pulitzer Centre also ensured that a new global generation of journalists can continue this work.”
Exchanges are a good way of understanding more about America too says Keith Budge, Headmaster of Bedales Schools in Hampshire. One of many international links is with The Putney School in Vermont, a progressive secondary boarding and day school on a 500-acre dairy farm. “Children benefit from being in an environment with colourful and interesting people,” he says. “One of the favourite words in New England is frugal, and Putney is warm, earthy and utterly authentic. If the duty team of students doesn’t get up and light the cooker, there will be no porridge. In our school, many students are entranced by the digital world and swept off in the supposed glamour of celebrity, but in this situation you have to make human contact with people who are very different: it’s very grounding.”
Bedales sends a student group for a 12-day visit to the school each year, and takes several Putney students for a term. The link helped further inspire the school’s outdoor work programme in the UK, including animal husbandry, blacksmithing and weaving. Michael Rice, 16, who went to exam-free Putney last year, is keen to add another idea at Bedales: “At the end of term, every person did any project they wanted, and was given a rating – and some of them have left school and started businesses already,” he says.
Todd Lengacher, director of intercultural programs at The Putney School, says Bedales pupils do seem surprised at their “apparent casual nature”, especially “spacious” days of three classes plus activities such as milking the cows. But such exchanges, he believes, are vital. “I often look at world leaders, in particular some of my country’s leaders, and have to believe that they would see the people from beyond our borders in a different – more empathetic – way if they had taken these kinds of exchange opportunities in high school. Our world is a better place for every interaction we push ourselves to have with people not ‘like’ us.”
By Senay Boztas
Freelance journalist Senay Boztas wrote this case study on Bedales whilst researching for an article on international partnerships, recently published in The Guardian