An Incredible Learning Journey

Dulwich Foundation Stage teacher, Ingrid Van Ginkel was invited by the Right to Play Foundation to assist in a five-day training event in Gansu Province. Right to Play is a leading international humanitarian and development organisation using the power of sport and play to build essential skills in children. Working within this context, the organization trains local community leaders as Coaches to deliver their programs in 20 countries affected by war, poverty and disease. Here's Ingrid's story: Travelling to Lanzhou, in Gansu Province, I wondered just who would be gaining the more valuable knowledge – the 22 participants in the training sessions or me. I certainly experienced personal growth and gained compassion and a deeper admiration for the teachers of China’s poorest. The International organisation, ‘Right to Play’ invited me to assist in a five-day training event. The objectives were to develop the skills of teachers, implement play-based learning, gain knowledge in early child development and assist in providing quality-learning opportunities for the children. Topics discussed were the ‘Right to Play’ Methodology, Child Protection, Early Child Brain Development and Kindergarten Room Set-up. I shared my knowledge of Early Child Behaviour Management and Communication with Children – all with the help of an interpreter. After proudly explaining that one-on-one care and sharing with a child - who for example, is scared and insecure at school - will build self-confidence and security, a teacher quietly stood up and asked me, “How do I give that kind of attention when I’m the only adult in a class of 63 children?” This question and many others, equally heart-breaking, left me at a loss of words. How can we possibly begin to help in these situations? Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges these teachers face on an everyday basis, their attitudes and warmth towards people are remarkable. I have no doubt that the work they do – whether as NGO workers or teachers in the field – is making a huge, positive difference to humanity. I worked with a teacher who watched helplessly as children beside her were crushed to death during the recent Yushu earthquake. She radiates love and compassion. During lunch, she broke into a beautiful Tibetan song and smiled her way through the training. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to connect with other educators of such a vastly different background to my own and would encourage all of us here at Dulwich to become more involved and reach out to those communities in need.