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28 October 2014

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Tower Hamlets and Newham

Student trip to Middle East
Getting ready to go

East London meets Middle East

Students from Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Bexley are setting out on a cultural expedition of the Middle East

Imagine jet-setting off across the globe, exploring places you've only dreamed of, and becoming immersed in a culture that is a mystery to many in the UK.

For a group of teenagers from East and South London this is no longer just a classroom day-dream, but reality.

Nine 15-17 year-old students from East and South London are embarking on a trip to the United Arab Emirates and Oman in an effort to improve their understanding of Arab culture and send stories of their trip to students back home.

They have been chosen because of their passion for art and music, so the trip will help get their imaginations flowing.

"When you say 'Middle East', everyone thinks of war… we're going there to show the good side, the better side," says 15-year-old Julson Delishaj, from Dagenham Park Community School.

A cultural exchange

In Dubai, they will meet participating students of the same age from Rashid School for Boys and from Latifa School for Girls. They will also be meeting Omani students, from Nusibah bint Kaab Secondary School and Ibn Anafees School for General Education in Oman.

The schools involved are Dagenham Park Community School, Forest Gate Community School, Plashet School and Crown Woods School.

They are all part of the Offscreen Education programme. Offscreen is as arts organisation that was established by four British students in 2004 following a year long creative expedition to the Middle East.

Their aim now is to inspire students to explore the Middle East in a creative and balanced way.

"Through the power of art, this expedition will communicate a fresh and positive image of the Arab culture based on direct experience, not media stereotypes, and the journey of these nine young people will be the platform to inspire countless more,” said Stephen Stapleton, founder of the Offscreen Education Programme.

British Council support

The launch for the expedition was held at the British Council in London. Rob Lynes, the Middle East Regional Director of the British Council, said: “[It's] a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the diversity of cultures within the Middle East, and to create lasting links between the countries and schools involved.”

You can follow the students on their trip by logging onto the Offscreen website.

East London reporters, Lebo Diseko and Angela Saini, filmed some of the students and teachers before they left. To watch their videos click on the links at the top right of this page.

last updated: 16/03/07
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