Carol, HoD Languages at Nga Tawa Diocesan School, shares what is laying ahead of the partnership formed with Collège Jules Ferry in Conty, France, 18 months into the programme:
" In September my partner myself, our [Nga tawa] Principal, Carmel Spencer, and the Mayor of the Rangitikei, Andy Watson, are going to Conty to visit the school and to make contact with local authorities regarding a school visit in 2016.
As you know, Nga Tawa hosted a group of 20 last year and we were invited to become a twin town with Conty. We now want to discuss this with the local Mayor and hopefully finalise it.
We are also invited to the commemorations of the battle of the Somme next year and we want to know exactly what this will entail. While we are there we will take the opportunity to also visit museums and battlefields in order to prepare what our learners will see next year.
Apart from that, Helen [Jules Ferry teacher] and I have become very close friends and want to see each other again!
So, our project now involves our whole towns, not just our schools, and this is way beyond my expectations.
The emphasis has gone off the horses, our initial project , at this stage as we are forging life-long friendships and international bonds. Our intention is still to produce a booklet of some sort, but we need to soak up the French war experience first.
Only a small group of our pupils are still corresponding, but these links will come alive again once girls know that they are going to France next year. They have learned a lot about the life of a French teenager, their school routine, and the geography of where they live. They also share a huge love of horses and an involvement in equestrian activities. And they are speaking French!
For me it has been a huge pleasure and it is very rewarding to see how the project has flourished. It was a lot of work organising the hosting of the group last year, but it is leading to 3 trips to France for me ...... 2015, 2016 and 2018. The Shared Histories project has provided a purpose and vehicle for these opportunities to develop.
Next year we hope to take a choir to sing at the commemorations, and will be inviting any current French students ( Year 11 and older next year), as well as girls who no longer study French but were exceptional hostesses last year and are still in contact with their pen pal.
At a meeting last week with the Mayor we also discussed inviting students from Rangitikei College and Turakina Maori Girls' College in Marton to make it a real town project and do huge fundraising for it!!!! We are not rulling out the chances to take part together in community commemorative projects and are following closely Peter Jackson’s initiative that consists of designing a reconstruction of the trenches to be built behind the Waiouru Army Museum. We are ready to keep on exploring! "