Students from Braeburn Dar and Arusha joined together for their first week of the Easter Break to explore the Arts and the Sciences in London. In true Braeburn spirit, the students from both schools immediately connected and became firm friends from day one. The sixth form students from Arusha supported the younger students on arrival in navigating the tubes with all our cases to make it right across London to the East – where we were staying in Ilford. After eating lunch and settling in, we gained an orientation of Ilford and the main shops there, before settling into our hotel and getting ready to go on our first theatre trip to the West End to see ‘The Lion King’. We were all amazed by the imaginative costumes, incredible makeup and inspirational puppetry that dominated this show.
The next day we visited a local UK school called Mayfield which is a real contrast to our school with over 2000 students. We were lucky enough to join 3 of their classes where we learnt alongside their students how to play the steel pans, do contemporary dance and work on slow-motion movements in drama. While we were busy, the A level students joined A level science classes for the day to work through some practical experiments. In the afternoon we ventured into a huge supermarket to get an idea of the items and prices of products in the UK. This was important before we visited the biggest
shopping centre in Europe – Westfield at Shepherds Bush.
On Saturday we spent the day at the interactive Science Museum where we enjoyed lots of hands-on experiments, before returning back to Mayfield School for our first ever Alumni event. It was wonderful to meet lots of our previous staff and students and to find out what they are all doing. The Rowes, the Bongos, Ms Kapinska and the Patels all came to join us as well as many of our students – who are in University or at work. It was great to eat together and catch up.
On Sunday we took a trip back in time when we went to visit the Tower of London to see, amongst other things, the crown jewels. We learnt a great deal about the Tower’s rich history and about Henry VIII. This later helped us to make sense of history told from the perspective of his six wives in a musical about girl power called ‘Six’, which we saw on Wednesday. On the same day, we also followed up our knowledge of British royalty by visiting Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard.
The artists amongst us loved looking at William Blake’s poetry, paintings and prints at the Tate Britain as well as Turner’s paintings of stormy seas. However, the favourite art exhibition for all of us was Chihuly's vibrant and dazzling glass sculptures located around Kew Gardens and Glasshouses. They were simply stunning.
The highlight for the scientists, after the Science Museum, was the London Aquarium, where we all learnt about the damage we are doing to our oceans whilst looking at sharks, jellyfish and sea horses. On a more positive note, we were amazed by the sight of our incredible universe, with its endless possibilities, beamed in ‘real time’ to the Greenwich planetarium. Before leaving the observatory at the top of the hill we also put one foot in the East and one in the West – by standing across the Meridian line. This is similar to standing with one foot either side of the equator. Our Physics teacher Mr Asher was amazed by the information on the engineering of the tube line in the Transport Museum and we all enjoyed the views from the cable car across the Thames.
The artists were enthralled by the incredible set design and special effects at the opera, Mozart’s Magic Flute. The Musicians also loved seeing and hearing a full orchestra. Ms Noela took the opportunity to test us all on the names of all the instruments. But the favourite show for our musicians was the musical Motown. The 80s music and dancing were electric and when we met the lead lady, playing the role of Diana Ross, after the show, we discovered she was Tanzanian. We have invited her to our school when she is next home to do some workshops.
Our Drama students loved being scared out of their seats during Ghost Stories at the Hammersmith and Lyric Theatre, but everyone loved the clever physical theatre in a play about a boy suffering from autism: The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night time. Our heads were brimming full of ideas for our next production, after watching it.
The Media and Art students were further excited by the Harry Potter Studios which we visited on Friday and in particular the special effects. Learning how to make monsters come alive and to see the set for this much-loved film was amazing.
In conclusion, England was very cold and very hectic and we were busy for 16 hours a day. As a result, we were all happy to return to the sunshine and to enjoy two weeks of doing very little – we felt we deserved it! It also gives us the time and space to mull over all our photos and to remember all the incredible things that we have seen and experienced.