Many people in the world at the moment are suffering from a lack of social interaction and entertainment. With face-to-face social activities impossible or limited, it has been a pleasure to see how IH students are enjoying a very special online social programme organised collaboratively by our schools IH Manchester, IH Bristol, IH Palermo LC, IH Portsmouth and IH Galway. These social activities have been developed in order to allow IH students that much needed interaction and leisure time.
While looking at ways to collaborate and support each other during these difficult times, some IH schools decided to work together on their social programmes. Up until recently, this was something they had all been offering separately, but the schools realised the numbers of participants – and the mix of nationalities – would be greater if they worked together. Just as the original mission of IH founder John Haycraft was to 'help people understand different cultures through the learning of a language’, the international social programme is very much in the spirit of IH.
It has also allowed the schools to offer a wider variety of activities for students to attend. As Mary Grennan, Director of IH Galway, explained, “With the International House combined online social programme, our students from all over the world can experience a fantastic social programme offer. We are all really excited with our varied, fascinating and fun online social events!”
That much is very true, for example this past week alone has included a musical journey around Ireland from IH Galway, a traditional British pub quiz from IH Bristol, and an art class form IH Portsmouth. Inspired by IH Palermo LC, IH Manchester hosted a Wednesday night ‘Aperitivo’ with over 20 students.
The overall reaction from students has been very positive, as Sam from Switzerland says, "It keeps me entertained regularly, I think it's great.” The IH online social programme has provided some light relief during this trying time. Not only does it help students to practise their English in a fun and informal way and meet people from all over the world, but it can also help people who may feel more isolated.
This week, the combined IH schools have offered a multitude of activities for all IH students around the world to attend, for example:
Tuesday 26th May – Murder Mysterywith IH Manchester
Wednesday 27th May - Daytime Bingo with IH Bristol
Wednesday 27th May – Evening Aperitivo with IH Palermo LC
Thursday 28th May – Harry Potter Escape Room with IH Portsmouth
Friday 29th May – …So you think you can dance? Challenge with IH Galway
All the activities are open to partners and agents as well. Marcia is a Brazilian IH partner and has been joining in regularly with a lot of events through IH Portsmouth. She told us, "I enjoy participating in the activities, it’s so amazing; dance, yoga, art and strolling through the museums and zoos. It's so amazing! I think it's so important to offer these activities to these students, especially during this global crisis and pandemic."
According to Peter Hayes at IH Manchester, “What makes online social events really buzz is having good numbers attend and students present from all over the world. By working together we can offer a much more varied and interesting social programme.
"This is an excellent example of how the global reach of International House really adds value to the students’ experience of online learning, wherever they may be in the world.”
Needless to say, times may be difficult right now, but it is important to remember that we are in it together! The combined efforts of the IH schools is a reminder how important it is to collaborate when times are tough – so, as Marco Faldetta from IH Palermo LC says, “In the spirit of IH, let’s keep working together!”