A CULTURAL link between youngsters in South Tyneside and South Africa was celebrated during a week of language, dance and music workshops.
The Duka Dance Company visited primary schools that feed into St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, in Hebburn, as part of the St Joseph’s-Sitiyweni School Partnership.
The long-standing relationship between the two schools has already provided opportunities for staff and students from each country to visit each other’s schools and share projects, with the next trip planned for next year.
The link started in 2002, when Connie Yabantu, who was a refugee from the Apartheid system in South Africa, and Jill McManus, a teacher from St Joseph’s, worked on an anti-racism project at St Joseph’s.
The schools are miles apart in both distance and identity, as St Joseph’s is in a modern, urban setting, while Sitiyweni Combined School is high in the hills of the Eastern Transvaal at the foot of the Drakensburg Mountains.
However, they are bound by many social, spiritual and cultural bonds and the link serves as both an educative and enriching experience at St Joseph’s.
Rob Hope, enrichment leader at the school, in Mill Lane, said: “This is a well-established partnership that offers benefits for all stakeholders.
“Staff and students learn so much about different cultures which helps them appreciate the diversity of the modern world.
“The personal development of our students is accelerated as they develop important transferable skills which employers and university admission tutors value highly.
“Involvement in initiatives such as this have such a positive influence on their future academic and career pathways.” The Duka Dance Company is a joint venture between young dancers and entertainers from South Africa and the UK, who travel between the two countries delivering interactive workshops based on the culture of both countries.