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Stoking a love for learning, education provides opportunities to enable employment and growth. Throughout lock-down, founder of African School, Natty Mark Samuels, has been delivering books to people’s doorsteps, creating digital materials and worksheets in partnership with Oxfordshire Kindness Wave (providing positive activities for children and young people). Natty Mark is a scholar, writer and musician and he wanted to ensure learning about African studies during lock down was accessible to all, so formed the innovative African School Mobile Library. Connecting the community through a love of learning.

Fatimah Kposowa, studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Brasenose College and currently the Deputy Chair for Oxfordshire Children in Care Council, co facilitated the African Studies Summer School, mentoring and role modelling.

‘’I love this place it makes me want to go to University.’’  Young leader 17 years old.

On a cool breezy summers dayin the centre of Oxford, sits one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. Brasenose College, founded in 1509, a place of former prime ministers, acclaimed activists, actors, scientists and writers, a college that is passionate about participation and widening the doors to reach, connect young learners and build leaders of today and tomorrow. Monday 4thAugust 2021 marked the first Cultural Summer School powered by Oxfordshire Kindness Wave, in close partnership with Oxfords own African Mobile School and Oxfordshire Virtual School Looking After Learning for Children We Care For.

With the objective to facilitate a platform for young leaders to build and connect through dialogue exploring black history.

As the young leaders arrive they push the heavy doors to Brasenose College open. As they step into the porters entrance a warmest of welcome from the porters, the young leaders step into the quad, a ‘hello’ and a wave from a senior tutor and student who stopped what looked like a serious conversation to acknowledge the young leaders with a genuine smile. The guarder stops at the door and nods morning, as the young leaders walk first into the tunnel of the old corridor, walking towards the old quad into the main lecture room to be surrounded by contemporary paintings from painters such as Leon Kossoff.

The first session was on MAMA NALA celebrating Sub-Saharanpottery, following on to the next session exploring THE CONGO AND PICASSO celebrating the African influence on African Art and ending the final day on A BALLAD IN COLOUR. At the end of each session, the group spoke over lunch.

African Summer School was established back in lock-down in partnership with Oxfordshire Kindness Wave facilitated and led by Oxfordshire Virtual School Looking After Learning for Children We Care For and Care Leavers. This was in response to feedback from young people saying how schools didn’t have sufficient amount of black history in the curriculum.

‘’The only black history I learnt was about Martin Luther King’’ Year 11 Student

At the beginning of March 2020, Oxfordshire Kindness Wave have been creating online opportunities to develop cultural capital. Journey with Natty Mark was an attempt to bring dialogue around Black history into the homes of our families and empower children with knowledge to help combat racism and celebrate diversity in Oxfordshire. The African Summer School intended to extend this opportunity for children and young people to learn in an Oxbridge environment.

The final African Studies Summer School seminar ended with a surprise visit from two emerging musicianswho very recently performed live at Coram Voice London. They both crafted and performed a piece of music. So like Blackmountain College or the Bauhaus Art School, where at the end of every day the creatives would meet and eat, African Studies Summer School group ended the seminar eating lunch on Broad Street Gardens, recapping, connecting and building.

Bringing young people together to connect, peer to peer, learn about the world whilst creating a safe, inspiring, warm and nurturing environment, can only lead to positive and strong outcomes that can empower and enable self directededucation. These young people are self developing and buildingtangibleopportunitiesand leading through opportunities whetherit’s employment, training or education. A bright future with the chance to build strengths and talents can protect, connect and build young people’s networks and confidence. Over the course of the Autumn term we are planning to launch a series of creative learning opportunities to help give a platform for young leaders and learners to develop curiosity and cultural capital to empower and be heard.

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