Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi in St Davids has well-established links with the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho – encircled by South Africa – as the school has been officially linked with Mahloenyeng Combined School for a number of years. St Davids is twinned with the village of Matsieng which is just a few minutes away from the school.
In one of the first Taith-funded Pathway 1 mobilities for the Schools sector, 3 members of teaching staff and 10 Year 11 students went on a 10-day trip to Lesotho.
The trip was organised by the school alongside the charity Dolen Cymru, an organisation that aims to connect communities in Lesotho and Wales to facilitate sustainable projects, partnerships and relationships which have a positive impact on both communities.
The purpose and aim of the trip was for students in each school to work together looking at Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The chosen SDGs included health and well-being and climate action. Additionally, teachers from both schools were given the opportunity to collaborate, demonstrate different teaching methods and look at how they could support each other in the classroom.
Teacher Jacob Jones said: “I could talk for hours about how great this experience was. I went from feeling a bit apprehensive – taking 10 pupils away is a big responsibility – and not sure what to expect, but everyone was so kind and would do anything to help.
“When we arrived in Lesotho the pupils took part in icebreaking activities like archery, and activities that discussed the SDGs. It was great to see the pupils working in mixed groups and openly discussing different issues that affect them. We were very proud of the way our children worked with their children whilst we were out there.
“It was a real privilege to work with the school, and learn from each other in the different ways we teach”
A hugely important aspect of international mobilities is to soak up the culture, scenery and way of life that another country has to offer, and the staff and pupils of Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi were treated to a number of unforgettable experiences during their Lesotho trip.
Mr Jones said: “It was brilliant to see not just the schools and how they work, but also different parts of their beautiful country.
“We went to the Thaba Bosiu cultural village and climbed the nearby Thaba Bosiu mountain and learnt about the history of Lesotho. One of the highlights was going to see the waterfalls at Semonkong, which is one of the highest, single drop waterfalls in Southern Africa.
“There was a celebration for us where the Chief of the village met us and the children were holding Welsh flags, some wearing traditional dress. They had made clothes for us and we walked down the road singing and dancing back to school.
“The highlight of the experience for myself was meeting all the amazing people in Lesotho, everyone was so welcoming. The landscape of Lesotho is incredible but it was the people that made it that extra special.”
Since the trip, Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi has been busy making plans for a return visit from the school in Lesotho to West Wales.
“We’re looking forward to hosting them when they come to Wales”, said Mr Jones. “Our whole community has already seen an impact from the visit, as we have been doing fundraising to help bring more of their pupils over. We realise how much of a life-changing experience it will be for their pupils as it was for ours.
“Since this experience, a lot of the children have come back and want to work with NGOs (non-governmental organisation). They are interested and want to get involved and make a difference.
“We would definitely recommend applying for Taith funding as the impact it is has had on us as teachers, children, school and the community has been more than we expected.”