The 2 year programme is a big learning experience whether through the undertaking of new and challenging activities or through specific training. It begins straight away through involvement in fundraising activities, then into preparing for and hosting our Tanzanian visitors and finally into the visit to Rungwe.
Involvement in fundraising activities involves developing new skills and also gaining ability and confidence in dealing with members of the public and being able to answer questions about the Link. Later on, as confidence grows, opportunities arise to present on behalf of the Link to external audiences to promote what we do. For example, in the past students have given presentations to Neighbourhood Forums and also to the UK High Commission and the British Council in Tanzania.
The ability to work in a team is a key attribute for an enjoyable and successful experience and throughout the two year programme we work on developing team working skills. This starts at our monthly group meetings through team working exercises and encouraging students to work together on coming up with and delivering fundraising activities. We have a number of residential events at an outdoor centre where we are able to undertake some more challenging exercises delivered by professional trainers.
The way music and drama can break down communication barriers is never underestimated. Students from both sides take part in a range of music and drama activities, sharing culture and traditions. In our drama projects students from both sides work together to create plays which look at the different issues both sides experience.
Students from Rungwe are always keen to teach us their traditional dances and songs. Once you get your tongue around the KiSwahili it’s a lot of fun and we get to perform together during the inward visit at the Whitehaven Carnival. Equally they (and our Cumbrian students) get great enjoyment in learning some local traditional folk dances and joining in with our songs whether that be the likes of the “hokey cokey” or the latest chart buster. We start to learn the basics of KiSwahili and Tanzanian Culture at our group meetings and we follow this up with a day course on our arrival in Tanzania. Before our visit we spend time developing some set classes (in English) which our students later deliver at our partner secondary schools. Standing up in front of 40 or more students in Africa and giving a lesson on English culture can seem daunting but it is a real learning experience.
Finally, Health and Safety, is a key consideration for everybody and all the students travelling to Tanzania undertakes a basic First Aid Course. We also have training on Food Hygiene and further coaching on how to stay safe in Tanzania.