Friday, 22 November 2013

Interview: G.I.A. students from Homes of Hope

This September, four children from Gitega Homes of Hope started at Gitega International Academy, the private, Christian, English-speaking boarding school run by Burundi Youth for Christ. 
Two months into the new term, I went to visit Edgar, Tharcien, Olivier and Kersy to find out how they were coping with the transition and life at boarding school. 

The interview took place in the headmasters office without a translator. It was exciting to see how good their English is getting as they were able to understand my questions and give simple answers in what is currently their 3rd language. (Which just puts Western language learning to shame!)

Once they realised that they had not been summoned to the Headmaster's office because they were in trouble (oops! - perhaps I should have thought about that) they relaxed and were happy to talk to me. Tharcien took the lead, leaning forward in his chair and confidently answering the questions. The others added extra information and added their opinions to the conversation. 

Me: Do you like it here at GIA?
Thacien: There are many good things.
Edgar: We make many friends
Tharcien: We learn to be good pupils
Kersy: We learn English

Me: You already learnt English at Future Hope School. Is it hard having all your classes in English?
Tharcien: Sometimes, at the beginning
Olivier: It’s good
Kersy: Some people struggle with English

Me: What’s the best thing about being at GIA?
Olivier: We make new friends
Tharcien: We do homework ourselves, in the evenings  (Note: Before, their homework time was very structured and guided, now they have more freedom and responsibility)
Edgar: Good food

Me: How did you feel before you came?
Thacien: We were scared because everything was new
Kersy: Scared about making friends

Me: And what about now? Have you made new friends?
(All nod vigourously) Yes
Edgar: Lots!

Me: Have you seen people from Homes of Hope?
(All beam enthusiastically) Yes
Tharcien: They come on Visitation Day

Me:What are your favourite subjects?
Tharcien: English
Kersy: Maths
Olivier: Science
Edgar: English

Me: Have you joined any clubs? (extra curricular)
Tharcien: Basketball
Edgar: Football
Lesly: Drama, Girls sports.

At this point I was concerned that they would miss out on their lunch, so I thanked them and sent them on their way.

 There were still a couple of questions that puzzled me, so I went to the staff room to talk to a variety of teachers, to ask how they thought the students were settling in.

How are the children from Homes of Hope doing?
- They’re doing great. They’re the best English speakers in their class.
- When they arrived they had more English than 90% of the pupils in their class, so they answered more questions than anyone else.
- Academically, they’re probably in the top 10% of their class.

Some GIA pupils are the richest and most privileged kids in Burundi. Is there a difference between them and the kids from Homes of Hope?
- It’s great, you can’t see a difference at all.
- They bought them some nice clothes to wear in the evenings and weekends just before they came, so they wouldn’t stand out.
- They’ve all made friends, Tharcien especially is very popular
- The other kids know about Homes of Hope. They’re fascinated; on the first Visitation Day, Regis brought all the kids to visit them, and they kind of took over the place. [laughs] Now he just brings a house of kids, and they rotate every time.
- I’ve never heard of anyone giving them any trouble. All the students have just slotted into life here at GIA, regardless of what life was like before

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