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Feb 12

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Dream School – Tanzanian style

Dream School – Tanzanian style

Kori Arts took young teachers from Turnpike Lane to Tanzania. Lilian Newman interviewed her sister Lydia about it

2011 saw a group of young people from Haringey’s Kori Arts go back to Tanzania to teach young people there performing arts and sports.
There had already been two other such trips, in 2008 and 2010. Lydia Newman, a 24-year-old from Hornsey, has been on all three of them.
Lydia has been involved in Kori since the age of 16, when she joined as a volunteer and mentor. She did drama at Queen Mary, University of London, and has also taught across the UK.
While very excited about her first visit to Tanzania in 2008, she didn’t really know what to expect. Overcoming the language barrier was her biggest concern.
‘I knew it would make [working with the kids] hard, and I was nervous about that. When I was actually there, I found it very hard work, but really rewarding. The language barrier was a problem but I used my physicality to talk to and communicate with the kids.’

Tanzanian kids value education more highly than us and there is a lot more community spirit with everyone having a responsibility for each other 

The trip showed her what problems the Tanzanian young people had to deal with in their everyday lives – upsetting at times. Many of the kids don’t have access to education after a certain age, because their families can’t afford it, she says.
‘The kid’s value their education there much more than we do here. There is a lot more of a community spirit there than over here: everyone has a responsibility and looks after each other.’
But the Tanzanian young people aren’t the only ones who benefit from this experience.  
‘I’ve learnt to teach under a range of different circumstances and to be flexible with my teaching,’ Lydia says. I’ve learnt how to live and work with a concentrated group of people in harmony for an extended period of time and have seen a different way of life.’

Youth Empowering Youth

The Tanzanian experience inspired the Kori Youths to start the Youth Empowering Youth UK or YEYUK Collective in 2008. A Tanzanian group has also formed – YEYTanzania – and is now taking leading roles within their schools and communities, and helping organise future projects.
Lydia is the only Kori member who has been to all three Tanzania trips. When I asked why she went back each time, she told me she wanted to continue the work she started, but also that she and other YEYUK members had built up relationships with the children.
With each trip her understanding of both the people and the place has become deeper. The relationships formed with the Tanzanian youths have helped this process: in 2011 YEYUK representatives were hosted in the homes of Tanzanian youths.

Real friendships in the ‘real’ Africa

They got to see the real Tanzania instead of just the tourist Tanzania. Another bonus is that the growing acceptance from the community and teachers.
There are many trips like the Kori Tanzania trip that allow volunteers to go to less developed countries and to teach children there. What makes the Kori trip different is what they teach. Instead of the traditional Maths, Science and English, the Tanzanian students are taught Music, Drama and Scriptwriting, basketball and football.
I asked Lydia why they chose this unusual approach and she replied: ‘We believe that through the creative arts you can find your voice. You can use creative means to articulate what you want to say on a social and personal level, which helps empower the youths.’

Music, drama and sports – the main lessons

The sport aspect was also beneficial: female coaches were deliberately chosen to break the social taboo that only men can play sports. By showing that woman can be sporting too, the YEYUK Collective hopes to encourage girls to follow their dreams.
One of the coaches found that the teaching of sport could also give students a more engaging and practical knowledge of other areas of study.
Lydia has bright hopes for the future of this project. ‘I see us working dedicatedly with the groups that we’ve begun with. I see someone being able to stay out there to monitor the growth of the group.

Self-help is an important part of it

‘We have already started independent drama and music groups, as well as a football and basketball team. I see the drama and music groups becoming travelling theatre and performance.
‘I also see our presence not being necessary because the people we’ve first taught will be able to pass on the skills they have learnt themselves.’
This really sums up the attitude and belief of Kori, which is based in the heart of the borough of Haringey. The group’s motto is ‘nurturing young people to develop community’. They give young children academic and creative skills that will help them grow socially and personally, and they teach these young people how to go out and help others.
For more information, email info@kori.org.uk or call 0208 826 3253

 

Permanent link to this article: http://dandelionproject.org/pub/dream-school-tanzanian-style/

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