European Local Democracy Week
Living together in culturally diverse societies: Respect, Dialogue and Interaction
On the 14th of October 2016, Arthur Mellows Village College held a workshop to celebrate diversity throughout the school and the nation in honour of European Local Democracy Week. It allowed young, intellectual, year 8 students to display their creativity and opinions on the matter; due to their enthusiastic, fresh approach to the workshop, they were able to come up with ideas and outstanding poetry.
The workshop began with discussing ideas about who they are and coming up with several thoughts about what makes you: you. By seeing the differences of fellow classmates, the students were able to understand the large scale of diversity. Discussions with the whole group brought up many conceptions of respect, aiding them to genuinely understand how respect is shown in their everyday lives, no matter how unrecognisable it is. The teachers were overwhelmed with the maturity of the answers. One student mentioned how ‘Respect is accepting them for who they are’. Another said, “Respect is when you treat people as you want to be treated.”
The focus of the workshop then moved on to interaction and how they can be both negative and positive. Students produced things such as ‘smiling at someone’ can be a positive interaction and that physical violence is negative. Everyone was able to differentiate good from bad.
What was interesting, was the way students shared experiences about the problems that cultural differences can cause, such as language barriers: “I went to a primary school where there were thirty different languages.” When the student was asked about how she found it, she replied, “It’s a 50/50 split. It’s interesting to learn about other cultures but, if there is a new student, it’s hard to talk to them without a translator.”
Mr Zaidi explained how Peterborough is seen as the ‘immigrant capital’ and that – to some people – it is considered intimidating. During this speech he mentioned the story of the ‘Tower of Babel’ (a story from the Bible) which became the main focus of their poems.
Gradually, as the day grew on, their ideas had been put into motion. One group of boys decided to put different lines in different languages, taking an unconventional approach to poetry. They went round the school and asked pupils who spoke other languages to record a line of their poem, through this pupils were able to appreciate the variety of languages spoken within AMVC. Another group chose to write on bricks, referring to Peterborough’s infamous and thriving brick industry. Others decided to go for a more orthodox attempt, using montages and voice overs. Many groups dispersed across the school looking for appropriate locations to fit their poem and some even included popular music to complement their scene.
Finally, their masterpieces were collaborated to form one video of everyone’s poetry. The effort put into both the performances and poems was magnificently remarkable and showed us how creative and understanding young people are towards different cultures.
If you have problems viewing the video, download the video here (right click the link and 'save target as' to download)
‘Brothers scattered across the world, a city of difference.’- Robert, Joe & Mohammed
In summary, the workshop helped its participating students to fully understand respect, dialogue and interaction while also helping them to learn more about cultural diversity. As well as this, it allowed them to express their own personal opinions on the matter.
“It gave us an insight to how diverse Peterborough is.”-Wesley.
“It was interesting how we could make the poems different and personal.”- Year Eight Student.
By Maia, Ben and Adam (Year 10)