Our Overseas links
Below is an article written by Mrs Lawton following her recent trip to Sri Lanka.
A selection of photos can be found here
In July 2008 a partnership was initiated through the ASL Twins Project (Adopt Sri Lanka) between Bottisham Village College and Ranna Maha Vidyalaya. Ranna is located in the Hambantota District, southern Sri Lanka, it is a rural area and takes students from 6-18. Ranna M.V. is a large school (there are 1,200 students on roll) located in the market town of Ranna, approximately 30 minutes drive from Tangalle. The ASL Twins project has supported the partnership by facilitating communication between school co-coordinators, together with staff and student support which has helped ensure the development and success of the partnership.
The main focus for the partnership has been to develop sustainable curriculum links between the two schools to enable the development of global citizenship through an understanding of cultural identity. Many faculties at Bottisham have been involved in the sharing of a number of projects including: exchanges of art work; poems focusing on peace and conflict; leaflets on culture and places to visit; culture in a box and the exchange, by some students, of Pen pal letters. These projects have been engaging and educational for our students and for those in Sri Lanka. There was also the opportunity last year to embrace the London 2012 Olympics and the Olympic values to enhance the concept of a global community. Both sets of students were able to share their excitement about the games.
At the end of last half-term, Mrs Melling and Mrs Lawton travelled over 5,000 miles to visit Ranna M.V. on the south coast of Sri Lanka. The visit was made possible through the connecting classrooms partnership funded by the British council. The initiative provides funding for the travel of teachers from both schools. The aim is to meet with partner teachers; to find out what school life is like in the respective countries and to develop stronger relationships between the schools.
They were over-whelmed by the warm and colourful welcome they received on arrival at Ranna M.V. The whole school was there to greet them and they were given an insight into the richness of Sri Lankan culture as students’ performed traditional drama, dance and song. They were then given a tour of the school and the opportunity to observe teachers and students at work. Mrs Lawton was asked to teach some grammar to a class of students. “The students were excellent and had a very good grasp of the English Language; I found it more challenging as I had to write on a chalk board” she said.
Both Mrs Melling and Mrs Lawton also accompanied a group of students on a field trip to the local Agricultural Park. The students were keen to explain the flora and fauna of their beautiful country and to practice their pronunciation of the Latin names given to some of the flowers, fruits and vegetable being grown. The facility also has an area used to preserve a variety of traditional rice plants no longer grown in the paddy fields that dominated the landscape in this area.
Whilst at Ranna MV, there was also the opportunity to meet with many of the others teachers at the school, sharing experiences as teachers and discussing common aspects of education and pedagogy. Some of the discussions involved sharing teaching strategies for encouraging speaking and listening in English lessons and to discuss and decide on future projects to share between the two schools.
Students were also given a flavour of how lessons are taught at Bottisham. Several groups of students took part in lessons planned by Mrs Melling focusing on the seasons. Students looked at maps and images and were able to discuss the difference between the two countries. This also allowed the students to expand their vocabulary and develop their questioning techniques. They were keen to ask questions about Bottisham, Cambridge and some of them asked about their pen-pals; this is a really important part of the project for the students at Ranna who want to find out as much as they can about the lives of students at Bottisham. We are hoping that students will soon be able to communicate with each other face-to-face via Skype.
One of the other requirements of the visit was to experience some of the culture of Sri Lanka. This involved visiting temples to find out about the religion and its beliefs. The visit coincided with the religious festival Vesak the main Buddhist religious festival in Sri Lanka that is on the full moon in May. Vesak is the first month of the Buddha Nirvana calendar. Buddhists celebrate the triple anniversary of the important events in the life of the Buddha: his birth, his attaining of Enlightenment and his passing away into Nirvana. The streets are full of bright illuminations and constructs, and roadside stalls distribute free refreshments to passers-by. There was also the opportunity to visit the Hoo-maniya ‘blow hole’, Yala, one of the countries National Parks where they experienced the wildlife in its natural environment. One of the highlights of this excursion was the family of elephants who came to drink at a water hole and the sighting of the elusive nocturnal Sloth bear.
This is an on-going partnership and Bottisham hopes to welcome Ms Indu Ashesha Waniganayake, the co-ordinator of the project at Ranna, on a reciprocal visit at the end of this term. She will be able to see how our school works on a day-to-day basis as well as talking to out studnets about life in Sri Lanka. It is hoped that she will talk to the GCSE R.E.P. class about Buddism and demonstate how to put on a Sari for some of the Year 8 classes.
This exchange will only strengthen our relationship even more and we look forward to many more years of exchanging projects between Bottisham and Ranna. It is also hoped that it will be possible for other members of staff to travel to Ranna to work with more groups of students.