Friday, 18 March 2011

My interests and dreams #vidstory

The #vidstory project is building momentum with about 10 finished videos and still more to come. The message and themes speak for themselves. 

The students have found ways to communicate on a level that I've found truly inspiring and informative. 

I've seen their homelands - buildings, countryside and people. I've seen their beliefs, their faith, their respect of their culture. I've also seen the UK through their eyes. My ears are filled with sounds from around the globe.

They make media rich resources and will provoke a lot of discussion.

Here is a video by Mustafe. I think it is truly outstanding.

The rawness of the misspelling, the diversity of his message and the informative nature of the video engaged me throughout and was well received by his peers. 

The next video is made by an Italian / Chinese collaboration. It reminded me that I live in a beautiful Great Britain.

The final video in this post is a really powerful video that shows another side of the lives of some students who are studying English in the UK.

The quality of the movies is steadily improving. There are some very strong voices expressed through those images. I hope to get voices or text added to videos to enhance the learning process and combine it with language.

My hope is to begin sharing this project with other young people studying at other colleges and help them build a Social Network. That network will provide them with solidarity and support. 

Please visit to find out more about other events and activities that are being organised throughout the country to raise awareness of young migrants and the complex lives they live. 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

3 students' Story Videos

Latif's Video Valdis's Video Shaban's Video

These videos were made in a 3 hour tutorial session.

Lots of students are also finishing their work and I hope to share their videos here too. 

I believe giving students an opportunity to find ways to communicate and educate other people is a first step in helping them develop their own social networks. 

These networks may, in turn, help them build their identities and develop meaningful, supportive relationships with new people.

Please see the following posts for more information on this project, also search for #vidstory on Twitter  

If you want to contribute a video please post a tweet with the #vidstory hashtag and send me a message.

Alternatively post a link via the comments box.

Happy VidStory making.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Video Stories - MisterMike

This video has been made to encourage my students to consider making their own videos using WindowsMovieMaker.

The idea is that students can use photos or images from the web.

The images should say something about them.

There will be options to add text, animations and transition effects.

Students can choose to cover their experiences, identity, neighbourhood, home etc.

If you like the idea, why not make a video too and post a link here (via comments box).

The collaboration?

It would be great to have a bank of videos that students could try and guess who the authors were.

Match a photo of the author to the anonymous video :o)

Why are we doing this?

I am currently supporting a group of 16-18 year old ESOL students.

I want to give them a voice. With that voice they can express their views about different topics.

I want them to reflect upon their identities.

For some, they may be facing an uncertain future. Check out this post that tells you more -

These videos may help them to connect with other young people in the country who are in a similar position.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Pancake Day

The 8th of March is Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday

This is the day that Christian families, traditionally, use up eggs, milk and sugar before the beginning of Lent. 

Lent is a period of 40 days when Christians fast

This type of fasting is different to Ramadan when Muslim don't eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset. 

During Lent people traditionally eat simple meals and don't eat dairy products and meat.

It seems like a good opportunity to lose some of the weight gained during the Christmas period of indulgence! 

Most British people I know don't fast during Lent but some 'give up' something; e.g. chocolate, smoking, sugar in tea.

On Monday evening I'm going to make pancakes for my class which I can microwave tomorrow.

Here are some links to sites with materials that I will use in the class tomorrow -
Project Britain (Woodlands Primary)

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

What did you do for your 18th birthday?

Thirteen years ago I celebrated my 18th birthday. I didn't celebrate it in May as I was preparing for my A-levels.  I had saved some money so in the summer I went to Crete with some friends from school. Each night we went out to the bars and clubs. Each day we recovered by the swimming pool. It was a typical summer break for someone who had just left high school in 1998.

Maybe that's why I am particularly affected by what's happening at my workplace.

A number of my students will be turning 18 this year.

I think it will be an enjoyable milestone for the Pole and the Latvian and their families.

The three Afghan boys are in a very different place.

Although they are supported by Social Services they are essentially alone here in the UK.

As these Afghans turn seventeen and a half they are prepared for "leaving care".

The Government plans to return 400 young Afghans to Kabul this year.

Deportations have begun because the Government deems Kabul to be safe, despite the two suicide bombs which have killed 17 people since the beginning of this year.     

The government is opening a reception centre for returnees where, supposedly, they will be given support.  I believe this was put out to tender for a three year contract in March 2010.  The centre will house 76 returnees (link). This does not fill me with confidence. 

It is well documented that the most extreme of the Taliban linked insurgency groups is stepping up its activity in Kabul.
            Spate of Kabul Suicide Bombs Blamed on Nearby Valley, The National, 17 February 2011
EXCERPT: "Two suicide bomb attacks in as many months on shoppers in Kabul, after a seven-month lull in serious violence in the city, have raised fears that insurgents are bolstering their strongholds on the outskirts of the capital.”

My students could be included in the 400 returned to Kabul this year. What can I do to stop this? What guidance and support is available? I'm not sure the college guidance and welfare team are experienced in supporting students in deportation cases.

I have decided to discuss my thoughts with my students and try and support them in setting up a support network for themselves and others who may be in similar positions. Giving this group a voice through media, the internet and direct actions may help.

Writing about it may help.

At a time of cuts in all sectors of society I doubt the plight of a few Afghan boys is of much concern to the general public.

A quick Google search, however, has produced this campaign - -  Young People Seeking Safety Week

Between 28 March - 3 April 2011, groups will be hosting events during a week of nation-wide awareness raising about this issue, YPSS Week 2011 will be showing films and art of young people made for the occasion. For more information visit the campaign website
I believe that these young people have suffered enough and that returning them to Afghanistan will endanger their lives.

I hope that supporting my students to find their voices will prevent what seems to be a dark and fearful destiny.

In Leeds, systems have been developed to quickly engage new arrivals, aged 16-18 and get them enrolled in  ESOL classes. A strong partnership, between Leeds Social Services and Leeds City College, has ensured that new arrivals are fast tracked into college. The systems were developed in response to a large number of migrant children missing enrolment due to their arrival date being after the start of an academic year. They then fell into the NEET category (Not in Employment, Education or Training). Good community links and a reputation for accommodating young people has created a dynamic solution to their needs. Please contact me if you would like to know more about my work.

Thanks for reading.
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