Today we share a short poem written by one of our students, Fisun Zat. Fisun has been coming along to Richmond EAL Friendship Group activities since 2018. It is wonderful to see our students getting inspired and creative with language.
I started as a volunteer with Ruth 5 years ago and found it very enjoyable and rewarding right from the start. I helped out at different venues and when Ruth asked me in May 2016 if I wanted to start my own group, I was very excited and happy to do so!
Lessons normally take place at the Cambrian Community Centre on Mondays from 10.30-12pm. Our room at the Cambrian is not very big and it was always going to be a small class, between 5 and 10 students.
The class is suitable for people who have a basic understanding of the language. The aim is to improve and to become more confident. Everybody has a chance to speak. I try and vary the lessons as much as possible.
Sometimes I read a short story or an article and we have a discussion. Some of the students love a spelling test! Other times we do a quiz or talk about certain grammar issues they might have. I am always open to suggestions. And last, but not least – we laugh a lot!!
Unfortunately, things are a bit different at the moment. We meet in a very big room, socially distanced and with masks on. We look forward to the day when we’ll be able to return to ‘normality’.
I have asked the students to give me some feedback on what the group means to them which you can read below:
“”Small class gives me more chance (to speak)”.
“I spent two years with you and your lovely class. You always encouraged us to speak English confidently”.
“I felt your warm welcome. I am very pleased to come and study in your class”.
“I like how you explain rules. I am sure my English is better today thanks to you and Ruth”.
“The atmosphere is very friendly and comfortable. You kept in touch with us during the epidemic which helped our mental health”.
“You built a great atmosphere for learning, like in a family”
P.S. Since writing this, we are in the midst of the 2nd lockdown and are unable to meet. I cannot wait to see all of my friends again – as soon as we get the ‘green light’ we’ll be back at the Cambrian!
2020 has brought many changes and uncertainties but we have also seen countless examples of people finding ways to stay positive and embrace the new normal.
Some of our own energetic Richmond EAL members have continued with their volunteering activities in charity shops and other settings. One example is Marlenys who volunteers each week in the Marble Hill Park Kitchen Garden where fantastic organic fruit and vegetables are grown and sold not-for-profit. Dedicated volunteers like Marlenys help to keep the garden maintained throughout the year.
Sadly we had to abandon our popular EAL Healthy Cooking Club from the beginning of lockdown and we are still unable to reinstate our face to face weekly cooking sessions.
However, a group of enthusiastic members have ingeniously set up a weekly remote cooking club on Zoom. Here are some photos of their excellent dishes and an article by Anudhi who organised this lovely activity.
The current participants speak the following languages: Japanese, Malayalam, Sinhala, Spanish and Tamil.
COOKING CLUB by ANUDHI CONNOLLY
Just after lockdown, Tomomi, Manju, Ayako, Antonette and myself decided to start a weekly cooking club. The idea was that each person would distribute a recipe beforehand so that we could all cook together on Zoom. Since starting I have also invited a school friend Amani, who feels quite at home with us and faithfully joins us from Sri Lanka every Thursday. Her poor husband has to sometimes have a very late dinner if for some reason we alter the time of our meeting!
Our main focus is on cooking and promoting healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes. We follow a few simple rules so that we do the best we can as a cooking club. We continue to grow and learn from each other the subtle differences of our cultures and our cooking methods.
After a few weeks of cooking we got the news that Tomomi and family had to go back to Japan. We met in Kew Gardens for a picnic to see her and bid her goodbye. Tomomi still keeps in touch with us but hasn’t been able to cook with us because of the eight hour time difference and her busy schedule.
So far we have cooked dishes such as Tofu Doughnuts, Flourless Chocolate Swiss Roll, Potato and Pepper Curry, Tomato Chutney, Dhal Curry and Coconut Sambol, Onion Bhaji, Pizza, Ratatouille, Calzone, Spicy Couscous, Paneer Curry and Pumpkin Curry. Every Thursday we make our families feel as if they are in a five star restaurant!
We are very grateful to Manju for her excellent graphic design skills and displays of her culinary creations. We all get inspiration from her in food presentation which is an art in itself.
We have had a few teething problems with Zoom which is all too familiar but we are all determined to overcome any obstacle to continue with the club and our social interactions across the globe.
The cooking club has given us all optimism and the joy of friendship during these uncertain times.
On Tuesday the 26th of February Dan Strachan from Richmond Borough MIND will be giving a presentation on how to look after our mental health and stay well. All our learners and volunteers are welcome to join!
On Monday the 4th of March we are planning a trip to the Orchid Festival in Kew Gardens. All our learners and volunteers are welcome to join us. We will meet at the Victoria Gate at 10am. Please remember to bring a packed lunch, drinks, warm clothes, comfortable shoes and an umbrella!