Friday, July 12, 2024

Kenyan students visit Dubai for exchange trip,Thrilled by development

DUBAI // A group of Kenyan schoolchildren visiting the emirate for the first time on an exchange trip have been thrilled by the sights and developed friendships with local children.

Five disadvantaged children from the Barut Primary School in Nakuru, western Kenya, along with two teachers, have enjoyed a taste of what life is like in Dubai as part of a week-long visit.

The initiative was organised by the School of Research Science in Al Warqa as part of a cultural exchange.

The Kenyan children stayed with the families of pupils at SRS and had the chance to learn more about Emirati customs while sharing their culture and traditions with their hosts.

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“My favourite parts have been going to Burj Khalifa and Ski Dubai because that was the first time I had seen snow and I had a lot of fun,” said Freshiah Wambui, aged 10.

“I have made a lot of friends and we have all had fun going to meet the families of the students here.”

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Freshiah stayed with the family of Beesan Tayyar, nine, from Palestine, during her visit and, despite being a little shy when they first met, has enjoyed making a new friend.

“I learnt a lot about Kenya from Freshiah, especially about her school and what it’s like for children there,” said Beesan.

For Viona Cherotrch, 11, attending various parties was a real highlight.

She is staying with the Emirati family of Maryam Abdullah, 10, and during a party with other pupils and staff a garden was created.

“We planted a small garden with different coloured plants to represent the UAE and Kenyan flags,” said Viona. “Everyone has been really good with us, and I can’t wait to tell my friends and family back home about my experiences.”

For Maryam, the visit was a real eye-opener.

“Viona told me about what life is like in Kenya and, although it’s different, I was still surprised that we share much in common as we both enjoy doing the same things,” she said.

Dhabya Abdulaziz, a nine-year-old Emirati, was fascinated by the experience and wanted to learn all she could.

“I would really love to get the chance to go to Kenya and see what life is like for children there,” she said.

The exchange was also an opportunity for the two Kenyan teachers to find out more about new teaching methods.

“In Kenya, the focus is very much about having the teacher as the focal point whereas, from what I’ve seen in SRS, the teachers provide more of a guiding hand,” said Zachary Ngugi, a teacher at Barut primary.

The smallest class size at his school is 68 pupils.

“As class sizes are so large, it’s not feasible to have as tailored approach as they do in SRS but there are aspects that I have seen here that I think will be most helpful.”

A focus on information and communications technology and computer-based teaching is the main recommendation he will be taking back to Kenya.

“It has been a wonderful experience for the children,” said Mr Ngugi. “At first we weren’t sure how they would react being in a new environment but they really opened up and I think seeing Dubai has really broadened their horizons.”

The exchange is only the first of a series.

“At the end of the month we will have about seven teachers go out to Kenya to help train teachers at Barut, as well as look at other ways we can help improve the situation there,” said Fraser Angus, assistant head of primary at SRS.

Plans are also in the pipeline for a similar pupil exchange next year, with about 10 Kenyan pupils coming to Dubai.

“We will also look at sending over some of our Year 12 and 13 students, along with staff, to do some kind of voluntary work,” said Mr Angus.

“This visit has really captured the imagination of everyone here at SRS.”

The Kenyan youngsters and their supervisors go home today.

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