The Academy of St Francis of Assisi recently held a number of in-school events and activities to mark Refugee Week which took place between 17 – 23 June.
Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.
In particular, there were some challenging and emotional moments at the Kensington Academy on Refugee Day that evoked respect and dignity from students.
Every class in the academy spent period 1 in a specially designed lesson that highlighted the plight of refugees around the world and in the local community with several of the academy’s own students sharing their stories.
The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Peter Brennan, was a special guest on the day, along with parents and governors, who attended a special lunch cooked by students.
After lunch, a moving assembly took place which was led by Jean Blanchard Azip. Jean is a Congolese refugee whose parents were killed by militia when he was 15-years-old. He was briefly captured and trained as a child soldier but escaped with the help of the UN and was brought to Britain alone.
He now works in Manchester as an accountant and musician but shared his story with pupils in order to show how mental strength, resilience and positive thinking helped him to overcome extreme hurdles in life.
Jean introduced refugee students, who, with incredible bravery, stood up in front of their peers and told their stories of coming to Liverpool.
Whilst they told stories of war, family loss and separation, unimaginable journeys through deserts, across borders and life in refugee camps, students in the audience listened with admiration. For some, it was the first time they had spoken about this in public.
From the feeling of great emotion and sadness, the school’s drumming group began to play alongside, singing which turned the feeling in the assembly hall to one of rapture and joy.
The event culminated in students and staff leaving the hall dancing and singing.
One student, as he left the school, said: “That was the best day ever”.
The day was organised by Miss Allen, head of history, who said: “Teaching at The Academy of St Francis of Assisi is an absolute privilege. Listening to our students and seeing the respect shown to others telling their stories has moved and inspired me. What an emotional and encouraging day.”
Headteacher Mrs Greenough said: “This event shows what our academy community is made of. Every student has lived out our values and we truly are a vibrant multi-cultural school.”
Inspired by sharing their stories, the pupils now have plans to work on a book of their experiences and to form a group to support other refugee students who arrive in the school.