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Education / Global Classroom welcomes 46 overseas students to Shetland

Students from Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, Basque Country, South Africa, Australia and USA are joining their fellow pupils from Shetland for the Global Classroom. Photos: Courtesy of SIC

THE GLOBAL Classroom has begun hosting its 27th conference in Shetland, with 46 students visiting the isles from eight countries across the world.

The conference got under way this morning (Monday) at the Anderson High School, introducing students and teachers from Shetland, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, Basque Country, South Africa, Australia and USA.

Students and teachers will be spending a week together to learn and debate themes of solidarity and community, exploring how to strengthen local and global communities.

This conference is the first to be held in person and hosted in Shetland since 2019.

After the flag ceremony, where a student from each country in the partnership carried a flag to the stage, an address was given by partnership officer Lewie Peterson to the local and visiting students.

During this, he outlined the history of the partnership which emerged from the work of teachers at the Anderson High School and highlighted how the conference is “shaped by young people” and “relies on connection, community and movement.”

The partnership officer told Shetland News: “It is very powerful to have a multinational group gathered together.

“It’s great to sense the energy and enthusiasm today. The effort that some of the countries have made just to be here is very humbling: some of them have been travelling for five to six days and they wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these connections.”

A teacher taking part from South Africa said: “We arrived on Saturday but we left last Sunday, after stopping for four days in Doha, Qatar, flying to Edinburgh and then travelling to Aberdeen to catch the ferry. It was a very long journey!

“As soon as we got off the ferry, people have been very welcoming, so we’ve loved it. Shetland feels like a very safe place, so much that people don’t even lock their doors.”

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Students and teachers will be spending a week together to debate themes of solidarity and community.

Tanya, Justy and Bára, visiting students from the Czech Republic, also spoke about their first impressions of Shetland: “This place is so beautiful. We stopped in London a few days before we got here, and the contrast is amazing: here it is so quiet and peaceful with just a few houses, some sheep and Shetland ponies.

“We come from a place that has 50,000 inhabitants more than Shetland and that is one of the smaller cities in our country. But when they told us that Lerwick has only 7,000 people, we couldn’t believe how tiny it is.”

They continued: “It’s really nice to see water everywhere and feel the salty air, that we always associate with being on vacation.  “We still can’t fully comprehend that we’re actually here. The sights are incredible, it’s like nothing we have in our country or have ever seen before.”

Following the conference, the students had the chance to meet each other and prepare for the busy week ahead filled with an extensive programme of excursions, multinational discussions and other activities.

Chair of Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee Davie Sandison said: “The Global Classroom initiative is fantastic, it helps us realise that we are part of a very connected world. When you are on a small rock in the middle of the North Atlantic, you need to look outwards.

“That’s why the global ambition of this partnership is superb. The connections you make here can offer opportunities for the rest of your life. It is commendable that we had the vision to make this happen right here in Shetland.”

A closing ceremony will take place at 11am on Friday 21 June at the town hall in Lerwick.


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