Our international pupils, in conjunction with the Diversity and Inclusion team, did an assembly to share their cultures

On Wednesday 17th April some of our international pupils, in conjunction with the Diversity and Inclusion team, did an assembly aimed at sharing a little of their cultures and educating us about the French concept of dépaysement: literally “to be uncountried”. Alma R explained that, for our overseas pupils, their experience at Gresham’s is coupled with adapting to a different country with different customs, traditions, language, music, food and so on. Grace S introduced our speakers, starting with Aziz.

Aziz told us all about Ramadan and how, before Islam, Ramadan in Arabia was a sacred time marked by prayer and communal gatherings, charity and fasting. From the evening of Sunday 10th March until Tuesday 9th April, the Muslim members of our school community had been fasting and this was concluded by Eid Al Fitr, a day of gatherings, prayers and joy shared with loved ones, embodying the spirit of gratitude and unity.

Then Alma and Iciar told pupils about aspects of France and Spain which differ from English ones:

While English people have dinner at 5pm, Spanish people are just finishing their lunch and getting ready for ‘siesta’; while in England you enjoy tea time with tea and cake, in France we have this thing called ‘apéro’ where we have a glass of wine, some savoury snacks and cheese and come together with guests before having dinner; English sports are very formal and civilized and then we have Spanish people who enjoy being chased by bulls! Iciar is from the Basque Country where there is a sport called ‘eskupilota’ which involves wrapping a stone in leather and bouncing it against a wall. It’s like squash but instead of a ball is a stone and your hand replaces the racquet; French food is considered to be of UNESCO cultural heritage and includes such delights as escargots, boeuf bourguignon and an array of cheeses; in Spain, every region has a different dialect and even language. In the Basque Country, Euskera is spoken and that is a huge part of the culture. For us to see the difference between these two languages Iciar introduced herself in Spanish: ‘Hola me llamo Iciar y soy de Bilbao’ and then in Basque, ‘Kaixo nire izena Iciar da eta Bilbotarra naiz’.

The assembly finished in a very moving way with Heidi W playing the piano and singing ‘Irgendwas bleibt’ by Silbermond.

The audience was captivated by the beauty of the music and Heidi’s haunting voice.

The Headmaster echoed Alma’s words, encouraging us to “look outwards”. Our hope was that pupils would leave chapel reflecting on the wealth of life experiences in our midst and to recognise how our own lives may be enriched by the ways in which others live, honour and celebrate life.