‘A Different Life’ at John O’Gaunt
John O’Gaunt School hosted a very special event this week, in partnership with The Hungerford Hub. As part of the Hub’s ‘Well Read Mind’ season of events, three guests with unique life experiences were invited to share their stories with a group of Year 8 and 9 students.
Each guest represented a group in our society that is often misunderstood, judged and even discriminated against, intentionally or unintentionally. ‘A Different Life’ gave the students the opportunity to meet the people ‘behind the label’ of physical disability, neurodiversity and refugee. In circular groups, the students had a chance to listen, ask questions and then share their own experiences, honestly and without judgement.
It was a powerful and thought-provoking morning. Tori McDonald, Y9 said ‘listening to the stories had a similar effect as reading a book about someone else’s life, – you can step into their shoes – only of course you could interact and share things – and empathise for real.’
Jayden Brown in Y9 was ‘very relieved to hear that Youssef, his wife and family received a warm welcome from the local community – that made me feel very proud – because people can be very cruel and lazy at understanding. It was humbling to hear what they went through. Youssef was a PE teacher and Water Polo Coach in Syria. It isn’t hard to imagine that any one of us could find ourselves having to flee for our lives and safety.’
Caleb Namesanka, Y9 said ‘Louise and the other guests were very warm and funny, even though these are very serious topics. Everyone likes to think they are inclusive and think about everyone else, all the time, but do we really? I feel like we are all better people after this experience.’
Rosie Chester, Y9 said ‘It was encouraging to hear that nothing holds these people back – whatever their situation. Dawn has had jobs you dream about – and is learning 4 different languages and Louise is a counsellor and artist. It made me think how good we humans can be. How we can live our best lives.’
The Well Read Mind Season continues with the following events: