By Sharon Gardiner, Solidarity Teacher Volunteer in Malakal
Wednesday, 20th February 2013, marked a day of celebration for the Teacher Training College of Solidarity in Malakal. Graduating students and their family members, teachers and invited guests gathered for the blessing of the College compound and the graduation of the first students to complete the four year Pre-service Training Certificate.
The celebration was successfully coordinated by Sr. Ninet D’Costa (Salesian Sister), Principal of Solidarity Teaching Training College Malakal Campus since its inception.
Monsignor Roko Taban, blessed the classrooms, offices and hostel.
Bishop Vincent Mojwok Nyiker, an avid supporter of Solidarity in Malakal, was among the guests of honour. The Bishop was responsible for much of the ground work that allowed an easy entry for Solidarity into Malakal. He opened many doors of communication with other organizations and was a regular visitor to the founding members during times of conflict.
A highlight for the audience was the presence of Sr. Pat Murray. Her speech which included a story about three sons who were sent out to find a treasure for their father, the King, resonated with the audience and drew much laughter and applause from the student body in particular.
The best part of the day was watching the students perform tribal dances, and although the dances and costumes were spectacular, it was the enjoyment had by the students which was special.
The dances were ‘official’ tribal dances from three of the local tribes, Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk, but due to the fact that there was not enough of each tribe to dance, some people joined in all tribal dances.
The result was a cacophony of noises: the ululating women, the beating drums, the stomping feet and the war cries and friendly shouts of the men, and an abundance of colour. Above all this however, were the smiling faces of the dancers as they interacted with one another, regardless of tribal heritage, thoroughly enjoying themselves to the delight of the onlookers.
The idea for a Solidarity Teacher Training College was broached at the Sudan Bishops’ Conference in 2005. Now the very first students have graduated after four years of training. The new college buildings have allowed the number of students accepted into the programme to grow significantly. The Malakal Solidarity Teacher Training College has come a long way and Solidarity with South Sudan is looking forward to continuing its training of urgently needed teachers in the new nation of South Sudan.
Here are some photos of the event.