‘A Beacon of Hope to Gaza’

Derry Friends of Palestine’s “Link for Learning” pilot program was a great success. The program over the course of several weeks, covers getting to know the students and their schools, followed by History, Art, Science and culture. The program ends with a live video link up between both schools. This is our first pilot of the Link for Learning program, we will be conducting a full review of the pilot program over the summer and will be offering the improved program to other schools in the autumn.

On the 24th June 2010, at 10am (GMT Time), there was a packed conference room in St Mary’s College, Derry, when a class of year 8 pupils created a milestone in international education, when they linked up, via video conferencing, with Abasan Girls School, Gaza, Palestine.

Salam to Gaza from Derry

Hello to Derry From Gaza

Today, it was all about the children of Gaza and Derry sharing the stories of their lives with each other.

In Derry, the girls from St Mary’s College started the conference with a solo singing performance, followed by a demonstration of their artwork.

Then, the Science Department demonstrated some experiments they learned throughout the year, which left the girls in Gaza wondering ‘why the balloon full of water didn’t burst when a flame was placed beneath it?’

The St Mary’s girls then gave a brief account of Bloody Sunday (before, during and after)

And it was finished off with a wonderful medley of Irish folk songs.

We then handed the conference over to Gaza; Mrs. Nisra the teacher from Abasan school in Gaza spoke to the class in Derry, reading a prepared speech, thanking them for twinning with Abasan.

Then the girls in St Mary’s were treated to a solo singing performance by a young Palestinian girl who sang a beautiful song about Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem delivered beautifully and impeccably.

Then, the St Mary’s girls learned about the lives of the girls from Abasan Girls School. Several girls from Abasan were eager to read letters they had prepared for the St Mary’s class.

We were then given a demonstration of the beautiful artwork, which was produced by the pupils.

Finally, we were given a wonderful display of a traditional dance in Palestine called the “Debka”, performed by five girls. Their performance had everyone in the conference room clapping their hands!

Mrs L. McMorrow, Vice Principal of St Mary’s College, said: ‘It was a very exciting opportunity for all those involved.’

St Mary’s Pupil, Caitlin, said: ‘It showed us that everyone in the world is the same and enjoy the same things.’ And St Mary’s Pupil, Emily, said: ‘We learned that they [Gaza] want the same rights and opportunities that we have.’

The live link up was hosted by local teachers, Mr P. McCourt and Mr S. Crockett. Mr Crockett said: ‘There was a lot of work and organisation by the staff and students of St Mary’s College and the Derry Friends of Palestine Educational Committee that went into this day. It was a tremendous opportunity, which proved a great success! It was, in fact, the first time that the pupils from Abasan Girls School had contact with pupils beyond Palestine.’

Sinead MacLochlainn who coordinates the program with Gaza said “We appreciate the work of Abasan school in Gaza and thank the students and teachers for all they have done to make it successful. They were forced to travel from Khan Younis to Al Aqsa University in order to do the link up due to system incompatibility. I wish to thank the coordinator in Gaza who made this all possible.”

The “Link for Learning” program was designed and created by the Derry Friends of Palestine Educational Committee. For more information on our program visit our page HERE For more photos see our Link for Learning photo gallery HERE