Northlands forms Italy ties

2013-03-07 00:00

“BUON giorno and good morning.”

Pupils, staff and guests were greeted in Italian and English at Northlands Primary School in Northdale yesterday. An entirely appropriate welcome as they had all gathered to celebrate the twinning of Northlands Primary with a school in Italy — Scuola Elementare Niccolo Machiavelli, San Casciano, Florence.

The twinning arrangement, that will put pupils from both schools into direct contact with each other, has been made possible by the Italian organisation Un Ponte per La Vita (Bridge to Life).

“Our dream is to give good education to children in a friendly environment,” Clara Tumino, a medical doctor and founder and president of Un Ponte per La Vita, told the assembled children. “Soon you will know a world called Italy — you will be able to share experiences, culture, lifestyle and dreams.”

The guests from Italy were treated to a concert performed by the pupils, which was preceded by prayers offered in English, Zulu, Hindi, Urdu and Tamil.

“This is witness to the diverse cultures of this school, to which we have added Italian,” said principal Vishnu Naidoo.

Pupils at Northlands Primary are already familiar with the Italian language as Graziella Maggesi Moyes, of the Pietermaritzburg branch of the Societa’ Dante Alighieri, teaches Italian at the school, the only government primary school in South Africa to offer the language as part of its syllabus. Over three hundred pupils take the subject.

The twinning of the two schools is a pilot project, initially planned for one year, and will be supported by the Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work in Africa, based on the local campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

“We will be providing psycho-social support,” says Sinomlando acting director Nokahaya Makiwane.

“What the children do will be integrated into parts of the curriculum.

“Via letters and e-mails they exchange with Italian children, they will educate each about family structures and the issues they have to deal with.

“A family in Italy is different from one in South Africa. What they regard as a nuclear family there is not quite the same here.”

But some things are the same the world over, as the concert demonstrated. Traditional Zulu dancing was followed by energetic dance performances to Shakira’s Fifa World Cup hit Waka Waka and Jennifer Lopez’s On the Floor.

The finale was provided by the school’s “very own Jacksons”, who had everyone clapping and cheering as they danced to Michael Jackson’s Beat It.

Entertainment over, it was a case of thank you and goodbye. Or as they say at Northlands Primary these days: “Ciao!”

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