Showing posts from February, 2010

Africa Educational Project - Senegal 2010: training weekend

A couple of weeks ago myself and Bro. Francis took most of our Senegal group to a training weekend at our Mother House in Ploërmel, Brittany. Two of our former Liverpool pupils who will be going to Senegal at Easter were able to make it. French groups of Brothers' pupils from around Brittany who themselves will be going to W. Africa at some point this year also participated in the weekend. It was wonderful to see them get on so well with our 5 Yr. 11 pupils from Southampton. This bodes well for the main trip.

As usual on such training weekends, there was a joint focus to proceedings:
a) getting our French + English teens to try out on each other practical ideas and advice for running activities with young African children
b) learning some basic educational theory, group dynamics, child psychology, etc... but not trying to turn our teens into teachers in 48 hours.

However, these weekends also serve (at least potentially) as great bonding experiences for each of the groups. We also …

Pull for the underdog! New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl Champions

Much has happened since my last article, in particular the glorious, heart-warming victory of New Orleans Saints, my sister's home team, in the American Football Super Bowl final. Believe me, in the US this is a VERY BIG DEAL and the stuff of legend. Writing this now, I can't help but think of the film I saw yesterday, "Invictus" (Nelson Mandela + the South African rugby) and of the fact that the New Orleans Saints story is even more incredible. There is bound to be a Hollywood film made about it in a few years.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that they were a team of misfits, cast-offs and has-beens, but somehow they have managed to unify the people of that wonderful city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, winning the Super Bowl for the first time ever in dramatic fashion 30-17 after being 0-10 down. It's the stuff of fairy tales.

My nephew wrote the following rather brilliant comment prior to the match on his Facebook page. I think it deserves to be …

"The Soul of New Orleans"

(Click here to see the above video in YouTube)

My sister has lived in New Orleans for 30 years, minus the 5 months spent in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the past 15 years I have gone out to see her 4 times, including one visit just after they returned to their house post-Katrina.

As a city, it struck me as being one that has much in common with my own adopted home of 17 of the last 23 years: Liverpool, in that both cities have a very strong identity that singles them out from the rest of their country. An identity borne from struggle and poverty, an identity that is defended with fierce pride, an identity that gets expressed perhaps most forcefully through music, humour, sport and culture in general. Both cities are outsiders, underdogs and seem to revel in that status.

Well, on Feb. 7th, the underdogs of the New Orleans Saints will be playing in their first EVER American Football Superbowl Final. Since Katrina, this team has come to represent the indomitable sp…