By LAWRENCE TULLOCH
The Connecting Classrooms venture which connects Shetland, Ghana and Kenya is now in its second year.
Ghana was the host in the first year and this time it was the turn of Shetland to entertain 14 visitors from six schools in the two African countries.
The pupils in Unst had been preparing for this visit for over a year, held an “Africa Day” and studied a lot about Ghana and Kenya in class. They were pretty excited when the day of the visit finally came.
When the Africans arrived in Unst it was Norwick Up-Helly-A’ day so they were shown the galley and had the opportunity to meet the Jarl’s Squad for songs, photos and refreshments. Robert Hughson, Karen, Mike and Eric Smith and Emily Tulloch showed them the Boat Haven.
They ate in the Northern Lights Bistro, enjoying Shetland and Scottish food. The theme of the visit was science and the environment so they were taken to the PURE project and the Valhalla Brewery. DVDs were exchanged showing environmental projects that the respective schools are involved in. In the coach pupils took turns at manning the microphone and told their guests many interesting facts about Unst.
There was a music and dance evening in the school. The visitors demonstrated some of their traditional dances and, at the same time, learned some Shetland dances. It was lively evening and everyone enjoyed the experience of different cultures.
In typical Shetland fashion the weather showed the visitors all its different faces and one Kenyan lady blamed the wind for the fact that she fell over. But they were delighted to see snow, a rare sight for them. One of the teachers from Ghana said: “Shetland people have warm hearts but they live in a cold compound.”
The visitors stayed and shared meals with host families and the experience was enjoyed on all sides.
In Yell pupils from secondary three gave the visitors a display of how to play handbells and they had the opportunity to try it too. On a cold windy they had a guided coach tour to Gloup and in the evening a Viking Timeship evening in Burravoe.
There was singing and dancing in Yell too and assistant head teacher Linsey Nisbet said lasting friendships had been forged during the visit.
The third phase of the project will take place in Kenya and there are some pupils who cannot wait to sign up for the trip. Mrs Nisbet said it has been a wonderful opportunity for young people to encounter first hand, and enjoy, the company of other cultures.