Paisley primary celebrates different pupils’ cultures as part of poetry project



Youngsters at a Paisley Primary school have been celebrating the many different cultures of pupils by taking part in a top poetry competition which celebrates different languages ​​from across the globe.

Three pupils from West Primary were selected for the final of the Mother Tongue Other Tongue competition, which encourages children to share their experiences of their families’ culture and traditions in their families.

Sabina Rodrigues De La Rosa, Tanazzal Shah and Sabihah Tubasem were picked by judges for their poems written about their home countries which the school used to help teach their classmates about the variety of cultures within the school.

Sabina wrote about Brazil, which is where her family is from.

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Her poem, which she wrote in Portuguese, was titled My Brazil, and talked of how ‘her’ Brazil differs from the stereotypical Brazil which people think of when they visualize the country.

Sabina, who moved to Paisley two years ago, said: “I came to Scotland two years ago from Brazil, just before the pandemic started.

“We had a good life in Brazil, but my family decided to move to the UK because things had become more difficult in our country.

“There are problems with gangs, drugs and violence and we didn’t feel safe anymore.

“Of course, I miss Brazil. People think Brazil is all music, beaches and carnival, but for me it is much more than that.

“This poem is about what Brazil means to me: my family, my friends and my memories but most of all, my heart.”

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Tanazzal, who is from Pakistan, wrote her poem in Urdu-titled Little Goats from Pakistan about her memories of seeing goats in the countryside during her holidays to Pakistan with her family and how few goats she now sees in Paisley.

Speaking about her poem, she said: “I was born in Scotland. My family comes from Pakistan and I feel it is my real home.

I have a very big family there. When I go to Pakistan with my family, I feel really happy, because I love the nature and the countryside.

“In my village we have so many goats. They are so funny and cute. I spend most of my holiday playing with the goats. Goats are an important part of our Eid celebration.

“Can you imagine Paisley with lots of little goats running about?

The third finalist, Sabihah, also wrote her piece in Urdu titled Bushra Bibi’s Biryani and painted a beautiful picture with her poem about her Mum cooking a Biryani.

Tanazzal said: “My mum is the best chef in the world. Her Biryani is amazing!

“My poem is about how I feel when my mum is cooking. It is a happy time for me, my sisters and my brothers.

“I love the smell of the spices and onions. Yesterday I ate biryani. YAY!

“It was delicious. I love my mom so much because she is so good to me. Cooking is love!”

The girls’ poems were published online and they attended an online ceremony as part of the competition.

The clever poems were just three of dozens written by youngsters as West Primary over the course of a few months.

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The school – which is dedicated to celebrating the diversity of its pupils – has been working with EAL specialist teacher Ruth Cunningham to teach pupils about different languages ​​and cultures.

Over the course of a few months, pupils wrote poems in languages ​​such as Arabic, Bulgarian, Russian, Mandarin, Yoruba and Indonesian.

Ruth, whose job is supporting pupils to learn English within the curriculum who do not have English as their first language, said: “Bilingual poetry has been a special whole school subject in West Primary.

“We have been looking at ways to engage and include the numerous bilingual students and families the school has as West has a socially and culturally diverse group of students.

“The impact of the poems has always been positive and not just on the writer, but to their monolingual peers as well.

“The most important part of the project is when the pupils share their poem with the class.

Many of the children in their class have never had the opportunity to travel out of Scotland, learn about other cultures or hear people speak a different language.

“So this has a positive impact on them too.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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