The Gambia Trip 2016

GambiaIn June 2016, 18 Ardingly students and staff set out for The Gambia in order to experience it's wonderful culture and to teach Science lessons in four different schools. The trip was a great success and the students really enjoyed the experience. Even though one or two of the schools were closed for a period of the stay because the holy month of Ramadan came to an end, there were so many things to see, do and be inspired by.

The education facilities in The Gambia are somewhat limited and pupils there spend most of their time writing down dictated notes in dimly lit classrooms with 50 or even 60 per room. Therefore, the aim for Ardingly students is to get straight to work and teach fun, dynamic and interactive Science lessons – and that is exactly what they did for three afternoons at St Martin's School in Kartong at the start of the trip. After the first day, the lessons needed some work, but they were not fazed and their lessons improved each time they taught them. Topics ranged from first aid, sound and malaria, to digestion, electricity and solubility.

St Andrew's Berrendung was the second school and was the most affected by the end to the Muslim holiday. However, the students did get the chance to teach local children who came from the nearby village and they showed great teamwork as they worked together to try to work out how best to teach these younger children. Teaching was made slightly easier by the organisation of both St John's and Old Jeshwang schools in Banjul and the visitors went from strength to strength with their lessons, despite the fact that at St John's the pupils are deaf and so physical communication and body language becomes much more important. Indeed, the reception Ardingly received at Old Jeshwang in particular was very warm and humbling and the break-time laughter was infectious.

As well as the teaching, the trip proved very influential on the students thanks to the people, culture and places they visited. They had plenty of opportunity to engage with the locals in Kartong, seeing how they live day-to-day, visiting the holy pool at Folonko and playing the local team in a football match. The first hotel was also an inspiring example of the good tourism can bring. In addition to having an amazing beach, 'Sandele' is an Eco-resort and has a commitment to the members of the nearby village as well as the environment. All this helped to shape the trip into a really positive and enlightening experience for all.