Potatoes for Peace head to the UK for Summer

July 17, 2019

June was a busy period for Potatoes for Peace, after the successful peace missions in the Asia Pacific region they journeyed to the United Kingdom, just in time for Summer and their next cohort of students. Potato Kylie and John were reunited with Potato Calvin and Noraita to offer their assistance with undertaking our largest school pilot so far, in London.

This was not the first ever school pilot in London, in July last year Potatoes for Peace took on their first school in a test pilot, but since then Potatoes for Peace has evolved as a result, in part, from the different cultures and wonderful people they have met on their travels.

This school pilot was undertaken over two weeks in a Catholic school in Outer London, with 240 students covering 8 separate classes and 4 different year groups participating in the three lessons of the Potatoes for Peace programme.

The age of the students ranged from 7 to 11 years of age and it was a fantastic opportunity to see how different age groups from the same school respond to Potatoes for Peace.

It was great to be invited to such a warm, nurturing environment and the Potato people enjoyed gaining exposure of a faith-based school, the hymns in general assembly for example, a first for Malaysian Potato Noraita.

Students created their potato friends which were from a myriad of countries including, Peru, Vietnam, Russia and Syria. With their potato friends being of different religions such as, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, while also creating potato friends who were atheist or agnostic, it gave students an opportunity to learn about different countries, religions and cultures.

Some of the discussions were lively and animated, with students demonstrating critical thinking by raising topics such as empathy, racism, negative stereotypes and discrimination. A particularly touching moment was when one student shared how she felt somewhat side-lined because she spoke another language other than English; her classmate promptly chipped in, articulating that it was fantastic she could speak another language and wished she could too.

Whilst filling out their passports for their potato friends, students also talked about their own experiences of having dual passports, whilst appreciating that some people including refugees may not have a passport at all.

We also had a special visit on the last lesson from a local Member of Parliament, Iain Duncan- Smith, who kindly introduced Potatoes for Peace to this charming school. Sir Iain was pleased to be introduced with students’ potato friends and understand what students learnt from their new potato friend and how it helped them to understand the ‘other’, planting the seeds so that students can be ambassadors of peace now and in the future.

Potatoes for Peace and the potato friends are not too political but if they were to have a manifesto, it would be the words of one 10-year-old student who described the program as follows:

 “It made me smile, laugh and learn”

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