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From Limerick to Malawi – a ‘win win’ for two communities

Ann Nyandovi Piercy BA(Hon), MScPH, founder of Unity and Trust foundation

Limerick teaching graduates from MIC will have the opportunity of interning in Malawi from August 2022.

Unity and Trust foundation is a Malawian based transnational cultural learning initiative created by Limerick Woman and Malawian native Ann Nyandovi Piercy in Partnership with Save Orphans Malawi (SOM).

“SOM is a village, made up of HIV Orphans. There is a primary school, a secondary school and a primary health care centre and it’s growing” Ms Piercy explained.

While many of us hoovered up Netflix for the last two years Ms Piercy has embarked on a new Limerick-Malawian educational initiative that promotes diversity and enhances both Malawi’s and Limerick’s education departments.

“During the pandemic while completing my MA I noticed many graduates struggled finding placements, also the Mid-West is saturated with newly qualified teachers, so I thought aha, this is when the idea came to me” Ms Piercy said.

Upon completion of sending thousands of books from Limerick to Malawi as part of a Midwest Migrant Community Network (MMNC) project, Ms Piercy forged a strong network with the Malawian Education Department.

“Ireland needs placements for graduates, Malawi has a hunger for knowledge and teachers. I contacted the Ministry for Education in Malawi, they said yes.. yes send graduates we will find places for them.

The goal is to place forty-five graduates by August and have two Malawian students return on scholarship to MIC. Creating a two way education stream.

Limerick embraces diversity but sometimes as Ms Piercy said: “Creating a bridge between cultures does not usually come naturally, it requires a deep insight into our different cultural values.”

The Irish classroom is very different place from twenty years ago, Irish teachers now need to navigate different cultures and make it a more inclusive space.

Intercultural skills

Dr. Martha Giralt, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and Culture Studies at the University of Limerick said:

“Intercultural skills and training is important for teachers, communication in the classroom extends far beyond language. Interpreting behaviour according to a person’s culture is a necessary skillset for today’s classroom.”

Welcoming the program, recently returned to Kincora Park Limerick from the Sudan with her three boys, Mrs Caoimhe Noonan-Awad explained to the voice that her boys, Nasif and Donnacha “really struggled to fit in with school.”

“The teacher wanted them to look at her, for them that’s really rude and disrespectful, something they’d never done before, it was awful confusing for them.

“Teachers need to learn too” Mrs Noonan-Awad added.

According to Ms Piercy: “Unless people travel, leave their cultural comfort zones, to experience the other side of the world – their perceptions to life will remain the same.

“This can lead to judgement and sometimes prejudice that divides us rather than uniting us in our humanity” Ms Piercy concluded.

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