Our staff and learners attend the most famous Literature Festival in the world!07-June-2022
Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales is delighted to be working in close collaboration and partnership with the Hay Festival 2022, and is thrilled to be an official Education Sponsor of the Festival in its first year of operating face-to-face since the Pandemic. AOC|ALW’s working relationship with the Festival began in August 2021, with discussions around learner involvement at the Festival, and how this could be successfully achieved, in supporting the raising of adult literacy standards and engagement with, and enjoyment of, the written word. The result of many months of behind-the-scenes discussions and meetings, has resulted in a bespoke day of activities, specifically for a group of our ESOL learners from Powys, Swansea and Cardiff, including attendance at a number of the Festivals’ events, ‘meet the authors’ sessions and book signing’ gatherings, and the opportunity to attend, experience and absorb, what is arguably the most famous Literature Festival in the world.
We are extremely grateful to Aine Venables (Education Manager at the Festival) who has worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the Visit, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the Festival in the coming years, to build on the solid foundations that have been established this year.
Below, is a first-hand account of the day, written by Janie Mitchell (ESOL Tutor in Powys) who, along with 4 other members of staff, accompanied the learners on a day of much discovery and wonderment.
Janie shares with us, “ESOL and WSOL learners from Cardiff, Swansea and Llandrindod Wells, with their families and tutors, came together for the first time, in the ‘Summerhouse’ deep inside the maze of marquees and covered walkways of Hay Festival. Greeting us was the festival’s education manager Aine with piles of croissants, tickets for a variety of events and talks and the comfortable retreat of a VIP space, where learners could come back to, to absorb the learnings and experiences of the day. For most of the learners, this was their first experience of a festival: wandering around, looking at stalls, dropping in to watch artists talk on a stage, meeting and talking to strangers, sitting on a beanbag to eat lunch – a freedom and an atmosphere of connection and inspiration.
Many of the learners and their children attended the talk ‘Hope on the Horizon’ by children’s author Onjali Q Rauf.
"I like how she said to be hopeful not hopeless,” said a learner’s young daughter, Dea, who had come with her mum to Wales from Albania. “I like how she said we should have empathy.”
One learner who had come as a refugee to Wales said how amazing it was to drop in to a chat being recorded by BBC Wales on the Arts today. “Two writers talked about their new books but couldn’t reveal too much – because it would spoil the story!”.
Zak, a trans learner who had written journalism on the LGBTQ community of North Africa said the events were very inspiring. “I already write articles in Arabic but (the festival) makes me want to write in English and Welsh and be published here now.”
Every attendee received a voucher to exchange in the huge festival bookshop, where authors were signing their books. With such a vast choice it was difficult to prise everyone away to their waiting bus. It was a lovely sight watching each child and parent clutch a new book which they had picked, to further develop their reading skills, but also as a souvenir of an inspiring and thought-provoking day. As Aine said, this is a festival of stories – we all have our own and we all grow by listening to others’.”
We are delighted that our learners and staff were able to experience the festival!
To see more photos from the day, click here.
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