A life changing legacy

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The days of school trips being just about as exciting as a visit to the dentist are long gone.

At one time boarding a coach and heading for the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh or Blair Drummond Safari Park outside Stirling was about the best that was on offer and all parents had to do was provide a packed lunch and some pocket money for souvenirs.

Fast forward and it is all change.

Nowadays they are organising passports, foreign currency – even inoculations – to send their youngsters safely on their way.

Tomorrow’s generation are thirsty for knowledge and travel and in Falkirk district’s high schools that demand to ‘see more, learn more, do more to help’ is being met.

Last month a group of senior pupils from Falkirk High School travelled to Malawi. This was no late summer holiday for the teenagers, but rather a practical opportunity for them to see first hand how youngsters their age thousands of miles away cope with the daily challenges of living, learning and surviving in one of the poorest countries in the world.

It was both an adventure and hugely rewarding experience.

The group, Hannah Reid, Sophie Welch, Jordan Hughes, Kirsty Lennie, Machar Devine, Suzanne Laurie, Emily Mackie and Cara Whittaker, were supervised by Mariot Dallas, the high school’s faculty head for creative and aesthetic studies, and colleagues Iona Henderson, principal teacher Curriculum for Excellence, and Eilidh McNicol, teacher of business education.

During their two week stay they were based at Bandawe Girls Secondary School who they have had a positive and productive partnership with for the last six years.

The link was established through the local Mamie Martin Fund, a charity which helps pay for secondary education for girls in Northern Malawi.

This is an association much valued by pupils and teachers from both communities who place a very high value on the opportunity to share experiences and learn together.

The Falkirk High party embraced the school’s motto ‘Invicem Servite’ - serve one another - during their stay and this was reflected in the activities and tasks they carried out.

They took park in learning and teaching in the school which included Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and lessons on the United Nations’ Convention on Human Rights of The Child where they learned that children across the world share many of the same needs, rights and responsibil

ities.

As well as the formal lessons and activities, new friendships were established and the group found new things to learn about their partner pupils and colleagues. The local MP in Bandawe hosted an evening where the developments in Malawian politics were discussed, and there was also time to visit Mukundi Orphan Care, an inspiring community project looking after vulnerable village children and helping them with education and training.

Another highlight was a live link up through the internet for a 20 minute question and answer session - a first for the two schools which it is hoped can be repeated to help Falkirk High and BAGGS stay in touch.

Mariot Dallas said: “Through

out the visit there was a lively exchange of letters and we arrived home with over 200 for our pupils.

“Now we are back in Falkirk the pupils are busy sharing their experiences with the rest of the school.

“They will have an important role to play as the Malawi link becomes more embedded in the school curriculum and provides a focus for pupils to develop as global citizens.

“While in Bandawe the pupils worked together on activities celebrating the landscape and environment of Malawi and in a few months time it is hoped about 80 pupils at BAGGS can be awarded the first level of their John Muir Award.”