Our engaging sessions for Key Stages 2 and 3, available online and in-person, highlight the adventure story of the Huguenots, our first refugees who fled their homes in fear for their lives to reach safety on our shores after perilous journeys. Students think about what it must have been like for them, arriving in a country where they did not speak the language and where the food and fashions were different, and where they had to rebuild their lives from nothing. Through interactive sessions, students discover the inspirational stories of the Huguenots, how they worked together to make new lives for themselves and how their hard work came to transform many different industries including silk weaving and finance.
Activities include role-play, with students conducting interviews with new Huguenot arrivals, or discovering what they would have worn or eaten. Art activities draw upon the skills of the Huguenots, with students making close observational drawings, paintings and 3D models of flowers and plants that went into silk designs, or weaving with beads.
Working with local Tower Hamlets schools where many of the children are from immigrant backgrounds, the sessions draw out the students’ own family stories and get them thinking about the reasons why people might move to a different country, and how their communities have transformed the local area. Sessions may start with a tour of the local area, getting students to think about the different communities who have lived and worked here. Brick Lane Jamme Masjid is a focus for discussion: originally built as a place of worship for Huguenots to practice their Protestant faith, it then became a Synagogue before becoming a Mosque, reflecting the different waves of immigration to the area.
This learning has developed empathy and a wider understanding of the world around us. Working with the Huguenots of Spitalfields was inspiring, especially the Q&A session to answer questions in person.