Online learning with a difference
Year 7 students met online with a former Aylsham High School pupil who came to the UK after fleeing Afghanistan. The students asked questions about their experience of migration, about life in Afghanistan, and about memories of their time at Aylsham High School.
I learned that when I meet anyone from another country I need to be kind and help them as best I can so they don't feel different or like they don't fit in - Tilly
This is the fourth time we have had the privilege to hear the reflections of this student, who fled Afghanistan as a teenager and joined us at Aylsham for their final years of high school.
The first time we heard their story was in a moving speech delivered to 300 students in the sports hall - a daunting prospect for someone who had only been able to speak the English language for a year.
Since their graduation, we have kept in touch and this amazing young person has shared their story with our students to support the year 7 reading of Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman, a tale of children escaping Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Something that particularly stood out to me was when they said they had to travel all alone, with no-one knowing their language, especially as they were so young. - Beatrice
We met online and students asked their questions. Some asked about life in Afghanistan, others asked about what it was like to leave your home country.
The students were fascinated and touched by the honesty of the comments made by our alum.
I learned that some people are a lot less privileged than we are and we need to do more to help others in Afghanistan. - Patience
I was really fascinated. The most interesting fact they told us - in my opinion - was that £1 in England is equal to 120 Afghani which is enough to buy a kilogram of aubergine, and also that people in Afghanistan sleep on mattresses on the floor and don't use beds. - Oliver
After the online meet, the year 7 students worked with the Harbour Club to articulate their thoughts. They spent the afternoon exploring their responses and explaining what surprised them, what made them smile, and what they had learned about the realities of Afghanistan and seeking asylum.
I was surprised how different Afghanistan is to our own country. But it made me smile when they talked about how they played the same games as we do. - Samson
It made me smile when they said they were not afraid of dogs anymore. I did not know that in Afghanistan dogs are wild or government dogs. I am glad they are not scared now - Callum
I found it cool when they said that when they came to Aylsham the teachers would communicate through sign language and I think it was cool how much they learnt in that time. Harry
It was clear to see that our students appreciated the sacrifice that our alum made to travel to England alone to secure a better future.
Their experience was so hard. No-one understood their language and they said it took one year to make friends and speak English confidently. - Nieve
The year 7 students were shocked at the experiences that this young person had lived through; they became aware of how fortunate they are to live in Aylsham and go to school at Aylsham High.
One day they were going to school and they heard an explosion. It was a landmine in front of their school. I think they were really brave to go to school after that - they and their classmates must have been really scared. - Lola
It made me sad that there was conflict even on the way to school. - Billy-Lee
One of the key findings was that the treatment of women in Afghanistan is seen as the norm - we were told that perspectives are different and young girls do not always think anything of needing to leave the house with a male.
There were strong feelings expressed at the thought of the privilege of freedom in the UK.
if I was a girl in Afghanistan i would be isolated and powerless. I also really like football so I would be angry that I couldn't play football anymore. One thing I would like to know is why the government there don't explore other perspectives. - Tilly
Above all else, the conclusion that students drew was unanimous - we must welcome and protect refugees and try to understand their situation.
Our alum gave us the most simple message, when asked how people could help when meeting someone from another country.
'Just be kind,' they said, 'Because you never know what that person has been through.'
One of my thoughts is that they were in their house knowing that there was war outside. I think all refugees should be welcomed. - Harry
Please remember to welcome any migrants or refugees that you meet and be kind. It is sad to hear that people act terribly to migrants without even learning their story. - Maia
I feel like no-one should have to migrate as I can't imagine leaving my home for another country. It makes me sad that people are leaving their homes to migrate at this moment. - Charlie
We had a fantastic afternoon and the students felt they had been given a real insight into the experiences of a refugee seeking asylum. It was a pleasure to host our alum again, and we look forward to seeing them continue to blossom in their life in the UK.
Our year 7 students will certainly remember the experience and will carry forward the message of support and the importance of welcoming others to our school.
They were very kind and gave everyone a bit of confidence. It is a very tough life where they lived - it is good that they came to our country. - Bailee