Friday 11 November 2022

Another Arabic language - and culture - workshop in Falmouth

  Back at Falmouth Primary School today for a further assembly and classroom workshops in Arabic with the wonderful Rawda Alater, who arrived in Truro from Lebanon and Syria about six years ago.

There are several native Arabic speakers at the school and they helped today.  Here is a Syrian student in Year 6 having a conversation with a classmate - a few easy phrases that the native English speaker learned in minutes. 

We had our Arabic language postcards to hand out - and we realised that some children had been practising overnight with siblings we had worked with yesterday.  

It was wonderful to see the children's enthusiasm - and eagerness to learn.

Thursday 10 November 2022

Learning about Syria - and Arabic - in Falmouth


A valuable morning at Falmouth Primary School in west Cornwall this morning with the wonderful Rawda Alater, who spoke about her life in Syria and her subsequent experience in the UK. She answered children's questions - and even taught a bit of Arabic.

In at least two classes there were Arabic speakers. In one, a child from Saudi Arabia spoke no English at all and was delighted to be able to chat with Rawda. As the rest of us listened, we realised what it must feel like to be 'the one' who doesn't understand. It's a strange and disconcerting experience - and one that non-English speaking children must come up against when they first arrive here.

Rawda spoke about the difference between schools in this country and in Syria. In Syria, children don't have hot dinners at school. The opposite - they take a packed lunch of flat bread and maybe cheese. Houses don't have curtains and carpets. It's hot. Life is different.

Rawda explained how she felt when she arrived as a refugee in Truro from Lebanon, where she'd been living for five years since she left the war in Syria in 2010.

She was afraid to open the door, she said, because she didn't understand a word of English.

Together this morning we learned how to say hello, how are you! And with the help of Arabic speaking pupils, wrote a few words in Arabic on the flip chart.

Thursday 3 November 2022

Family researchers uncover long-lost history


Nearly 106 years after her death,  a photo has been discovered of Maybelle Stoneman - one of the two young women who were killed in a factory in the National Explosives Factory, Hayle, on 20 December 1916.

The factory at the time was producing munitions for the Front and was one of the largest in the country – part of a huge war effort to manufacture much-needed ordnance. Click here to read the accident which killed four people - May Stoneman, Cissie Rogers, George Perry and James Cock.

Ray Rogers, the great nephew of Cissie Rogers and Kay Gibbons, the niece of May Stoneman, have been researching this story since we started to uncover local stories during the centenary of the end of World War One. Our website Heart of Conflict gathers together these stories.

Kay’s maiden name was Stoneman and her father was May’s younger brother, Henry James Stoneman, who emigrated to New Zealand in the 1930’s.

It is thanks to both Ray and Kay, who have formed networks with other cousins and descendants, that this photo has been uncovered.  Local communities can now learn more about this story - and see a picture of the young woman who died, something that we never imagined that we would be able to do when we started to research the story and found their grave in Phillack.  Very many thanks to Ray and to Kay, and to other descendants who have worked so hard on this.


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