1653261597 The Realejos for solidarity

The Realejos, for solidarity

The second grade students of the Learning and Performance Improvement Program (PMAR) at IES Mencey Bencomo in Los Realejos (Tenerife) are full of anticipation, interested in the story of two classmates and two foreign classmates. They tell what their integration into another culture was and is. Questions from the rest of the class pop up spontaneously and appeal to their curiosity; at first with some frivolity and a certain ingenuity; then the dialogue becomes more natural, fluid and friendly.

They comment on incidents, anecdotes and short stories about some common ways of life in their home countries. Hobbies, aspirations, family customs… However, in their explanations it is noted that they already feel like neighbors of Los Realejos and peers of the rest of the class.

The story and the dialogue they maintain contain important lessons that are shared throughout the course. Questions arise. What do you miss about your previous customs? What surprises you most about the island’s traditions? How did you feel when you arrived? How were you received? How do you feel now? The classmates showed empathy and a certain admiration with their attitude, comments Rosa Hernández, professor of linguistics and social sciences.

Students’ doubts about immigration: What do you miss about your previous habits? What surprises you most about the island’s traditions? How did you feel when you arrived? How were you received?

Because of the pedagogical interest of these types of meetings, the teacher decides to link them to relevant academic knowledge. Among other things, they created infographics on the characteristics of the countries of origin, their location, political order, population, gastronomy, folklore, tourist attractions…

These insights were revealed in each student’s presentations, showing their progress as they worked on feeling empathy, “Integrating knowledge and feeling”, as Unesco put it.

In the previous post we announced that the project Rooting. We are all migrants considered moments of particular relevance, such as the visit of the young Senegalese Abdo Kane who arrived some time ago by boat on the coast of Tenerife. Today he lives integrated into his social environment, lives on the island, works at the University Hospital of San Cristóbal de La Laguna and runs the association Here we migrate, which works for children who, like him, have had to leave their town. And prevent them from doing so and create the conditions for a good education.

Teaching raises doubts, trains the differences of opinion

The meeting was something very special, according to the teacher: “It was enough to look at the expectant faces of the students.”

The preliminary round showed good cooperation between many agents. Beyond the work of the teacher and students, it was involved John Jesus Rodriguez, responsible professor for the solidarity committee of the institute (also consisting of student representatives of all courses). The committee contacted the Canarian Solidarity Association and agreed on the date and content of the visit. “Learning to empathize, work together, deal with prejudice and overcome conflict is valuable in all societies,” says UNESCO.

Wednesday morning, late April 2021. Rosa Hernández had planned two sessions of 50 minutes each. On schedule, the project was in phase 2 in full development. Together they had processed, diligently sought, analyzed and organized information to understand the causes of migration, its connection to geostrategic decisions and the overexploitation of natural resources, as in the case of coltan. Through a data-driven dialogue, they built a more real, ethical, less visceral, and biased vision of the problem.

IES Mencey Bencomo students working on rooting project.  We are all migrants.IES Mencey Bencomo students working on rooting project. We are all migrants ROSA HERNÁNDEZ

Rosa Hernández comments: “They realized that countries rich in minerals and containing coltan, which is essential for their mobile phones, had pretty bad economies and human development. They realized that many of the immigrant boys who come to the island by boat – and who are criticized by sections of public opinion – come from working in the mines, without shelter, for long hours and very little pay.”

The session begins with the presentation of Abdou Kane by Juan Jesús Rodríguez and Rosa Hernández, providing some first brushstrokes of his life journey. Then A. Kane, accompanied by two members of his association, took the floor.

At first the students are a bit shy. However, due to the climate of trust that has been built up, they soon start asking questions. In pedagogy, there is talk of creating safe spaces in which trainees are guaranteed to be able to test without becoming ridiculous; They can make a mistake and ask again without their mistake coming back to haunt them.

The questions are: Why did you take this trip? How are you currently living on the island? What does he do in his everyday life? Kane responds to her with sincerity and plenty of generosity. “Like many other young Africans whose situation can be described as ‘not so bad’, I had a dream.” He wished for a better future for himself and his family. Excitedly, he admits that “moved by this dream” he gathered strength and told his mother that he was planning to travel to Europe. This testimony left its mark on the students; For a moment they put themselves in his shoes and felt emotionally overwhelmed.

Continuing his story, Kane comments that one night he boarded a boat on a beach in Senegal and after a hard journey and endless problems and a sense of unmet needs, he reached the coast of Tenerife.

He says he traveled from the island to the peninsula. There he experienced many setbacks and had to deal with unexpected situations. He decided to return to Tenerife. Students keep asking him: how do teenagers live in Senegal? The main question was whether Senegalese boys have mobile phones. Kane smiles. He confesses that every time he visits an institute he is asked the same question. Everyone laughs and the session takes place in an atmosphere of openness and relaxation.

Kane and his staff talk about the projects their association has completed and are still pending. The students are particularly interested in the project to set up a school in Senegal. At that time they had managed to provide it with the necessary resources. They want to know how they can work together and what they have to do to become part of the association.

Visit of Abdou Kane, food collection, exhibitions and awards at IES Mencey Bencomo.Abdou Kane visit, food collection, exhibitions and prizes at IES Mencey Bencomo.ROSA HERNÁNDEZ

“They talked at length about the project to set up schools in their town in Senegal and to provide an education for all children in this area. Help move the country forward so they don’t have to emigrate like he did,” Rosa Hernández recalls.

The meeting ends with a photo session and a commitment to continue working together on the integration of migrants, further raising awareness in society of the importance of this serious problem and taking responsibility.

The Rooting Project. We are all migrants, received the Council of the Canarian Aps Association, has received the national award for immigration and coexistence in the 2021 edition of the Service-Learning Awards for their work in raising awareness among citizens and in defense of human rights , promoting coexistence and citizen empowerment. The award was sponsored by the Torresco Association, which aims to promote the integration and care of migrants.

On December 3, 2021, the Los Realejos City Council recognized the educational value and closeness to the citizen of this solidarity project, awarding it the Añepa Solidarity Prize at the Casa de la Cultura, within the Los Realejos Solidarity Program.

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