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A Liberal Arts Education

 

Happy and Holy Easter

 

For a period of six weeks, three St Mary’s BA (Hons) Liberal Arts degree students undertook their Work Related Learning placement with the Horn of Africa People’s Aid Northern Ireland (HAPANI) at the Morton Community Centre, Belfast. This is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which, under the guidance of Project Coordinator Suleiman Abdulahi, supports individuals living in Northern Ireland from the Horn of Africa region, including Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. The project involves the teaching of English to individuals of varying ages and abilities to enable those individuals to go about their daily lives living in Northern Ireland. The project was established initially to highlight the need to incorporate such initiatives into the community, to raise awareness of the practical assistance needed for individuals from the Horn of Africa region and to create a provision where these individuals can receive the necessary guidance and assistance.


The morning and afternoon learning sessions focused on providing for the adult users, and there was also a homework club in the evenings to give their children educational support and guidance. The project was very enjoyable, and the progress witnessed by the St Mary’s students contributing to the project was incredible, even over the short, six-week period. The idea of a school environment was very new to most of the Horn of Africa community, and for many it was their first time in a classroom.


The results from this short course in English have shown that many of the students who joined the class with little or no knowledge of the English language are now able to write, read and speak basic English including the ability to tell the time.