As most readers will be aware the new school session got off to an unusual start this year with the visit of 2 teachers from our link school in Malawi. Mr Chimtali, the Headteacher of Mlozi School, and Ms Ajawa, the Depute, were in Gairloch High School from Thursday 19th August until Wednesday 1st September. They were welcomed at an assembly that included performances by the school pipers and C for Craic and the presentation of a special welcome cake baked by Rosie Smith.
During their time at the school, they visited many different classes, learning about the work of our school and contributing to the lessons, including providing opportunities for pupils and staff to ask questions and learn more about Malawi. On Tuesday lunchtimes, Mr Chimtali proved himself a valuable addition to the staff team for the staff/pupil football matches and we lost count of the number of goals he scored. They also visited the Primary Schools at Bualnaluib, Gairloch, Inverasdale, Kinlochewe and Poolewe and had a very enjoyable time in each of those schools. During their visit, we planned some joint curricular activities that will take place in both schools over the next few months looking at food and diet in Science and farming in Social Subjects.
Outside school time, they enjoyed a full programme of activities with members of staff and community groups and experienced the natural diversity of our weather! The beach was a novelty for them, Malawi being landlocked, and they enjoyed a paddle after finding that the water was much less cold than they expected. They were welcomed to services at two of the local churches, had the opportunity to ride a horse for the first time in their lives (horses are quite unusual in Malawi), took a trip east to Inverness and Invergordon where Mr Chimtali tried his hand at judo, visited the local ATC and had a go on the flight simulator, attended training for the Wester Ross Youth Football team, visited the Gairloch Show, were interviewed by Two Lochs Radio and enjoyed hospitality in the homes of many members of staff and others. The social highlight of their visit was the Community Ceilidh on Saturday 28th August, which was mentioned in the previous edition, so suffice to say it was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.
Before they arrived in Scotland, our visitors had been told that people here are not as friendly as they are in Malawi, which is known as the “Warm Heart of Africa”. However, they found that this was simply not true in Gairloch and were overwhelmed with the warmth of the reception they received here from the schools and the community. They have sent their thanks to everyone for their kindness and welcome. In their short time with us, they touched us with their generosity of spirit, their friendliness and their sense of humour. At the final assembly before they returned home, they sang a traditional Malawian farewell song which was received with a standing ovation from the pupils and there were certainly a few moist eyes when they left. Many people were generous in giving them gifts for their school and their families, and the modest luggage that they arrived with was considerably supplemented on their way home. Gairloch High School would like to thank again pupils, staff, Primary Schools and members of the community for the welcome that you gave to our visitors and we hope that you enjoyed their visit as much as we did. This visit was supported by a grant from Global School Partnerships for which we are grateful. (report by Dr C Caley)