“Dreams + Teams” for developing young leaders [Archives:2007/1105/Last Page]

November 22 2007
Children with  their teachers and Elizabeth White, director of the British Council in Yemen and Khadija Al-Surhi, director of Dreams + Teams in Yemen and deputy director of the British Council.
Children with their teachers and Elizabeth White, director of the British Council in Yemen and Khadija Al-Surhi, director of Dreams + Teams in Yemen and deputy director of the British Council.
Hamed Thabet
“The point of the Dreams +Teams for young leaders program is to develop young leaders and global citizens through international sports awareness. The program is under the patronage of the Youth Sports Trust and the British Council, working in partnership. Dreams + Teams uses the global language and diversity of sport, the arts to develop leadership skills and active citizenship. [Participants] also will be encouraged to become more aware of other cultures,” explains Elizabeth White, director of the British Council in Yemen.

She adds, “Twenty students, 10 each from Al-Rashid School and Al-Jazeera School – of course, boys and girls equally from the two schools – are responsible to train 100 children to practice what they learn from their teachers. The point is that we want to link the two schools in order to allow them to share their experiences and what they've learned. Moreover, we want to create a joint venture between Yemeni and British schools regarding sports, culture and the arts.”

Khadija Al-Surhi, director of Dreams + Teams in Yemen and deputy director of the British Council, explains, “This program is in two steps, the first of which is focused on two weeks of teacher training by British teachers, Rick Stephens and James Schone, who are specialized in the field.”

She continues, “In fact, another program is going to be about joint ventures in government schools and the British Council is working with 24 government schools in this regard. Moreover, there will be another 16 schools in the near future and another 16 by the end of March.”

Schone, who is an advisor for Dreams + Teams internationally, further explains, “We began training pre-youth from ages 14 to 17 in order to teach them how to be leaders, teaching them skills such as cultural activities and coordinating festivals, as well as teaching them how to trust themselves.”

Chris Shute, charge d'affaires at the British Embassy in Yemen, notes, “This type of training and program is very normal in Britain. Moreover, this program's success today makes me so happy. I hope these kinds of programs will spread across the country.”

He points out, “We will continue doing more projects like this in Yemen. This is just the beginning and we will see its effect upon children. On the other hand, teaching children how to trust themselves and how to be leaders will be useful for their country in the future.”

Schone notes, “This program is in 40 countries worldwide. Yemen is one of the important countries we're focusing on because children here have talent. The only problem is that they don't have the opportunity to strengthen those talents.”

One of the Yemeni trainers, 21-year-old Adnan Al-Qasous, says, “My first training experience was in 2003 at Yemen Modern School. Since then, I received training, during which I was so worried and strained. However, after I went through this program, I started to trust myself more and I learned new things that I never dreamed of. It's a nice feeling being a leader, but it's also a great and difficult responsibility.”

He adds, “I became a trainer for very young children in this program. At first, it was very difficult to get along with them, but after the second day, they started to be serious and said, 'We feel that we've really changed and improved.'”

Fifteen-year-old Suha Al-Eryani, expresses, “This training helped me discover the abilities I didn't know I had, such as confidence and leadership. In the beginning, I was afraid that I would fail or that I couldn't make it. But now, once I was trained and put in a practical situation, I feel that I'm not the same person I was before. Moreover, many barriers were lifted during this training, such as boys and girls could talk and work together.”

She adds, “Girls in our country don't have many opportunities for activities or to bring out their talents, so a program like this which teaches us how to do different things helps girls to have confidence in their abilities.”

Al-Jazeera School Director Rathiah Al-Shu'ur, recounts, “The British Council visited us and suggested this program. After consulting with the school, we agreed on the idea. The only problem we had was regarding the sports component, which had boys and girls together; however, the British Council agreed to cancel that portion.”

She continued, “When I talked to my students about the training, all of them were so excited. I really saw the difference in their attitude and how they managed it in record time.”

She adds, “For sure, there will be this type of program and training in our school, which will cooperate with Al-Rashid School in order to exchange experiences.”

Al-Rashid School Director Khalid Qahtan remarks, “We have great trust and confidence in the British Council. It's not the first time they've worked with us, so, of course, after discussing the program with our teachers, we agreed to it. The only problem we encountered was some parents refusing to let their daughters participate in the training, but some did allow them.

“The most interesting thing was that one of my students came to me the first day and said, 'Teacher, I feel that I'm a different person now. That's why this type of training and program is going to help our students do better in their lives and will be the fundamental of this school,” he concluded.