Storytelling Project in Winchester – Students’ Report

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Storytelling Project in Winchester

2nd- 6th March, 2020

Talent Support Project – Cooperation with the University of Winchester

Every year since 2015 a project week is organised in Winchester as a part of the Winchester Tale Project based on two optional courses (Storytelling Course, Art and Craft Drama Course).

This year with the support of two teachers – Ágnes Bethlenfalvyné dr. Sreitmann in the preparation phase and Andrea Székely both before and during the project week – a group of five students – Eszter Boros, Krisztina Juhász, Eszter Kovács, Ágota Marczin and Katalin Ritz – travelled to the UK.

After a two hour journey from London we arrived at the reception of the University of Winchester. We were all very delighted to find Winchester a magical little town with several beautiful sights and friendly locals. Although our daily steep uphill walks did not seem to get any less challenging we managed to get used to the right-hand traffic. The thoughtfulness and the very warm welcome of our hosts was a great help in accepting the not so welcoming weather. Our schedule for the whole week had previously been carefully planned and agreed in order to make the most of our limited time.

As soon as we arrived at the reception of the university we were greeted by Jonathan Rooke –senior lecturer of the Institute of Education at the University of Winchester. He equipped us with the most important general information and introduced us to the students we were going to share the week with:  Jessica Bennet, Lois Torpey, Phoebe Cole, Hannah Woodford and Polly Chinnery. They supported us in the professional work, in finding our way and ensured our comfort throughout our stay in Winchester. With their guidance we finally could occupy our lodgings and after a very brief rest in our rooms we reunited ready for adventure.

Winchester is a peaceful and picturesque city close to the southern coast of England with a long and eventful history. Our very pleasant impressions at our first evening walk got even pleasanter the next day when we had a chance to explore the city more thoroughly by daylight.  We spent our first evening together with our hosts at a cosy pub making the finishing touches to our agenda for the week.

Next morning we reunited to start the professional work together. We had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Laura Clarke senior lecturer of the University of Winchester. The aim of the meeting was on the one hand to account the pedagogical work accomplished in the first semester at AVCC based on the well-known Hungarian folk tale, “The Mayor’s Clever Daughter” at Krisztus Király Primary School.  On the other hand we discussed in detail all our plans for the next day. We presented and rehearsed every activity that we had planned to carry out at St. Lawrence Primary School in Alton. Based on the suggestions of our host teachers and students we made some alterations and prepared all the props we were going to use. The rest of the day was spent exploring and enjoying the sights of Winchester in the afternoon sun. After sunset on Jonathan Rooke’s initiative we spent a magical time listening to the Choral Evensong in the breath-taking Winchester Cathedral.

Early Wednesday morning a group of very excited students and teachers set off to St. Lawrence Primary School in Alton. We had the exceptional opportunity of meeting, playing and working with a delightful group of thirty 6-7year old children.

We started the occasion with sharing some general information about Hungary in a brief and age-appropriate presentation, during which children had a chance to prepare relief maps of Hungary out of playclay. Next, riddles were presented to the children as an introduction to the story we were going to deal with. We were delighted to see that all the children were genuinely eager to guess and find out the right answers to the riddles. We then acted out our story – “The Mayor’s Clever Daughter”. The characters and the scenes were represented by various kitchen utensils. We were again very pleased to have the full and undivided attention of the whole group. Next we invited the children to act out the story with us. Children had a chance to transform into one of the characters by putting on a headband with the appropriate image on it. With the assistance of the English students and teachers we acted out the story again with groups of children representing a single character. This was a really powerful experience to all of us. Children were active, engaged and enthusiastic and eagerly took part in all the activities. After a brief break we asked the children to draw and present their favourite scene or character of the story in groups. Despite the simplicity of the task this was one of the most popular activities according to the children’s own feedback.

The final phase of our time together was based on the popular story, “The Enormous Turnip”. First children had to find out the title based on our miming, and then they had groups of objects (shoes, bathroom things, kitchen tools, natural objects) to act out the story with in a similar way as we did with “The Mayor’s Clever Daughter”. As in the drawing phase children surprised us with their skills and creativity. Our morning at St. Lawrence Primary School proved to be an extremely rich and significant experience.

Having left the children to have some well-deserved rest after the hard work we gathered for a very traditional cream tea and spent a pleasant hour reflecting on and evaluating the events of the morning and discussing our next project in Hungary. After that we visited Jane Austen’s famous house in Chawton, where several of her great novels were first put to paper.

On Thursday we travelled to Oxford. Despite the truly awful weather conditions we spent a memorable day visiting Christ Church College, Bodleian Library and the Ashmolean Museum. We finished the day with a farewell dinner with our hosts discussing further our common experiences and our plans for the next cooperation in April.

Friday was the day when we travelled back to Hungary. We were lucky enough to spend our last hours enjoying the Winchester sun and finally having a chance to see the Great Hall of Winchester Castle and the legendary Roundtable as well.

Our flight home was spent recounting our very eventful days in England and the sharing our anticipation of the coming adventures we are to take part in together with the English teachers and students in Hungary in April.

By now we know that with all the restrictions made necessary by the spreading of the new coronavirus we will probably have to wait a little longer than a month. However, there is no doubt that the project week in Hungary, whenever it will take place will be every bit as colourful and valuable as the one in Winchester.

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