On Friday 18 May 2018 students studying 16-18 English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) from both Southall Community College and Ealing Green College presented the Heartstone Odyssey Project at Southall Community College.
Heartstone is a UK-based non-profit organisation established in 1983 with the remit of making storytelling and dance accessible across cultural divides. ‘The Heartstone Odyssey’ is a magical story which addresses issues of racism, sexism and xenophobia.
The event was attended by Virendra Sharma MP, who opened the event with an informal speech and some inspiring words. He spoke about his journey from his arrival in the UK to where he is now, which was very well received by the students who found it profoundly encouraging and motivating.
ESOL students from across West London College have been collaboratively developing their own creative responses to The Heartstone Odyssey, which they presented in an exciting and inclusive event to the other ESOL classes and teachers, as well as college managers and directors.
Students from five classes, from Entry Level 1 up to Entry Level 3, explored themes from The Heartstone Odyssey, including hate crime, institutional racism, inadvertent and open racism and bullying. These were presented in an exciting range of formats, from spoken presentations, stories of their journeys to the UK from their native countries, posters, poetry readings and even a song!
Mandy Bahra, Head of Curriculum – Skills Pathway, said: “The students were amazing, they worked so diligently with so much commitment and enthusiasm for the project. I am so proud of both our students and our teachers. It was a fantastic afternoon which was supported by managers, teachers and Virendra Sharma MP.”
The work of Heartstone incorporates real-life stories drawn from across the globe using photojournalism as the foundation for its communication of experience, a medium which has proved ideal in terms of its ability to cross language and many cultural barriers as well as appeal to all age groups.