Potters Bar pupils help revamp African school

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Last day - Credit: Archant

STUDENTS from Potters Bar travelled to Africa to re-decorate a school they helped fundraise to build.

During a 10-day trip to Zambia, which boarders, amongst others, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania, Year 10 pupils from Mount Grace School painted the outside of Greater Joy School and the classrooms inside.

Sarah Longley, Elise Hutson, and their teacher Sarah Wright, journeyed for 26 hours to the south-central African nation to meet pupils and teach lessons in maths and English.

Sarah Longley, 15, said: “It was really good.

“A once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

On some days they were painting for eight hours or more, normally surrounded by a curious group of schoolchildren.

They also organised arts and craft lessons, but said the children were most interested in learning how to spell English words.

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Elise Hutson, 15, said: “It was an amazing experience.

“We were really nervous to start with and we didn’t know what to expect or what we would be doing, but it was great.”

Both girls were selected for the trip after entering a competition which required them to make a presentation on why they should go on the visit.

Teacher Sarah Wright, international co-ordinator and drama teacher at Mount Grace, said: “It is a really beneficial project and it was great to see the school in person, knowing that we had helped to build it.

“They couldn’t believe that people from another country were helping them so much, and it is a building they have never had before.

“It was also really good to learn about the culture of the country and for the girls to see how the children lived.”

While they were in Zambia, the representatives from Mount Grace also visited pupils’ homes, met the Bishop of Zambia and tasted the local cuisine – including caterpillars and sweet potato leaves.

Later in the year, Angelina, the headteacher of Greater Joy, will visit Potters Bar as part of the exchange partnership.

In total, the school raised more than £8,000 for the building of the African school and were awarded £3,000 allowing them to do the teacher swap.