Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Thein Naing swims in the North Sea!

Today was the hottest September day Scotland has had for decades, which gave Thein Naing the opportunity he has been talking about since he came.  He went swimming in the Firth of Forth, which flows into the North Sea and is really really COLD.  This man is a hero! It seems Say Hai has photos. Watch this space!

Today we visited Campie and Musselburgh Grammar

It was another nice day, quite sunny. I had my traditional Shan ethnic dress on so that teachers and students would have a chance to know what we wear in Burma.

Our first class was P6 (a) and the class teacher was Ms. Zoe. We brought two big posters from Thai-Burma borders. Both has the same title ‘Who is in charge of your life?’. The Campie primary students last year sent their poster with their different thoughts on the topic to CDC students in Mae Sot, Thailand so that our Burmese students could know and do a comparison with them. The Campie students, at that time in their P5 mentioned such as – parents, teachers, government, etc. But a year later, when I asked them if they have changed their thinking about the person in charge of their life, many grade 6 studnets answered ‘yes’ and asked me to add ‘yourself” in the list.

Our CDC students’ poster which was brought back by Campie teachers had some notes in it. The person in charge of their lives: Dr. Cynthia Maung, Aung San Suu Kyi, parents, teachers. Then I had to explain Campie’s grade 6 students who Dr. Cynhtia and Aung San Suu Kyi were, and why they have chosen so. The Campie students looked very interesting that a medical doctor has been providing health care for 150,000 population and providing an education opportunities for thousands of refugee children. Also, unless Burma becomes a democratic nation, many children’s lives, including CDC students, are not going to be easy. That was why they chose our democracy champion Aung San Suu Khi, the 1990 Noble Peace Prize Winner, as their aspired person. I found the students’ opinions in both schools quite interesting, and believed they all learned something from each other, simply by sending the posters with scribbles.

We answered some more questions from the students about CDC children and their lives on borders and refugee camps. One campie child asked me what would I do for CDC school if I had received lots and lots of money. They seemed to be quite astonished to my answer as I explained that I would provide a reading corner with lots of books in every classroom at CDC and more books for both teachers and students.

We concluded our lesson by teaching them how we spelt Campie School in Burmese, and they wrote their very first Burmese words.

After the first class, our acting Head Teacher, Mrs. Clarke, took us to Musselburgh Grammar School. I was invited to observe the first part of Citizenship class for Secondary (5/6) with the teacher, Ms. Jane Bonnar. After a quick chat, she asked me to do a presentation about my life story and the stuggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. For next 25 minutes, all the 35 senior students found it quite interesting to learn someone of their age had to become an active member in democratic struggle, escaped to remotest jungle on borders, set up a school for 500 displaced children, and survived on monthly income of a tin of rice and some vegetables for seven years. Many more interesting questions, answers and comments followed. I learned the new teaching methodology – Think, Learn, and ACT.

Three students showed us classes for Social Sciences, Arts and Business Management subjects. We observed each classes, had a chat with the teachers and studnets and learned a lot. I was quite surprised to learn that all students had to submit their art works for assessment. And I quite liked the idea. The Art teacher was explaining me how the students had been utilizing recycled materials to create their art work and learn in class. RME was also a key learning area, both Say Hei and I had very little knowledge regarding curriculum planning.

During lunch time at the Grammar school, I had another opportunity to talk to Musselburhg’s students members of the Amnesty International. I am quite delighted to observe that young students are concerned about international crisis and humanitarian situation elsewhere. I learned their activities, and shared my life as an activist students 23 years ago.

When we come back to Campie, P (4/5/6/7) students were ready for an assembly. Ms. Juliane explained them about the Global School partnership project and our journey from Thai-Burma borders to Campie and how we are doing. Then the students from different classes asked questions to Say Hei and me. Very interesting questions about lives in other part of the world.

Then we visited Ms. Kat’s house for dinner, and she cooked for us a wonderful meals.

Thein Naing and Say Hei

Thein Naing and Say Hai'sfirst day in Campie School

I walked to Campie School with 3 students. It was a nice walk for 15 minutes on the sunny morning in East Lothian’s autumn. Fresh sea air has helped me a lot to quickly adjust the weather, and it is quite different from my usual morning in Mae Sot.

The school is quite magnificant with calm look, and strong, grey colour building appeals to me in many ways. Previously, I had a different view on UK. I have translated a short novel for my education magazine. The title was ‘Two world’ by Helen Everett Camplin. It is story about 3 struggling youths from other countries in London, and in it there is an expression of boring looks of the buildings in UK, even the grey colour birds are not any match to the the youths’ mother country’s landscape, flora and fauna.

But what surprised me was the movement and liveliness inside this old, normal building. What a lively place to be! And I am quite surprised to see the creativity and intuitive minds the Campie’s teachers and students possess. Within the first few weeks in the academic year, there are full of interesting pictures, postings, decoractive designs all made by East Lothian young minds and hands.

The first class Naw Say Hei and I taught was Ms. Kat’s P1/2. We had a post card session. The CDC school students have answered to the Campie’s student’s queries about lives on Burma borders and at CDC. Then we provided the students with some Burmese traditional and cultural pictures. I have chosen the picture with a young man rowing a boat in Inle Lake in Shan State in eastern Burma. The students were quite surprised to learn the boy in the picture uses his feet to handle the oar. We also played a guessing game.  We did similar lessons with P2/3 class wit Ms. Louise.

In P7a class, after briefly observing Mr.Craig’s lesson on different Parliaments and political roles, I decided to follow on the interesting lesson by linking the Campie’s older students’ knowledge to Burma and our strugle for democracy and peace.

The students eagerly participatd in the discussion session and generated many question on Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi and the struggle for democracy, refugees, CDC studets’ learning and many other questions on human rights movement.

We had another two lesson for P6c and P6b, and Say Hei drew a picture of a bananar leaves to demonstrate the structre and shape. Some cultural understanding activities.

All the students in every class are ready t0 ask questions or provide comments. And that was quite cheerful for me. and I was thinking about living curriculum and active participation.

After school, we met Mr. Don Ledingham, our Executive Director of Education & Children’s Services at East Lothian Council. I am honored to meet the senior Scottish educator who cares a lot. We had a discussion on how the education activities for refugees and displaced communities on Thai Burma borders can be further developed. I am very much excitied for our underpriviledge children’s opportunities in education.
Thein Naing

Monday, 26 September 2011

BEST Fundraiser

Last night Say Hai and Thein Naing enjoyed some Burmese food and Burmese company at Myint Su's house as part of a BEST fundraiser. BEST help Burmese students to enroll in an access course at Newbattle College. Thus enabling them entry into a university course, here in the UK, on completion of the course. A lovely night was had by all!

Day 1 @ Campie

Day 1 @ Campie on PhotoPeach


Here are a few snaps of Thein Naing and Say Hai's lessons from today. The visited P1/2, P2/3, P7a, P6b and P6c. Hopefully they will blog about their day later - before they fall fast asleep. They are off to meet Don Ledingham just now! From what I've heard the children have loved seeing them in their classes and were really engaged.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Say Hai and Thein Naing Land Safely in Sunny Scotland!

Woo hoo they have arrived safely!Was going to say it has been a long time in coming but this time it has been the complete opposite of Say Hai’s last visit and we have literally known for just over a week!

Lovely to see them both again! Miss Lendrum, Miss Macnaughton, Gaynor, Imogen, Livvy, Amy and Emma all arrived at the airport to meet our Burmese visitors. They looked a little travel weary and I suspect they are already tucked up in bed to recover from the long journey.

Sweet dreams – the Campie children can’t wait to see you on Monday.
ps They chose the right weekend to come the weather has been glorious today! Must have brought the sun from Thailand - brilliant.