A memorable experience – 2010

Anitah AUJAYEB  – Gaetan Raynal SSS

I would like to share here a memorable experience I had in the last weeks in the heart of London, in the realm of English Literature, in the world of music, architecture and theatre, thanks to the English Speaking Union ( ESU), Mauritius branch and England.

It’s an incredible reality that many people inMauritius are somewhat unaware of the activities of the ESU, and my purpose today is to show the appropriateness of the motto of this institution which says “ Creating Global Understanding Through English”. The numerous activities organized by this institution, for students and teachers, bear testimony to its dedication towards the enrichment and enhancement of English in our country. At a critical time in the history of English language in our country where teachers struggle to teach the language to an indifferent crowd of students, such institutions which cater for its welfare are more than welcome. To achieve their aims they need people, genuine language lovers, more altruists, and more enthusiastic supporters.

As one of the numerous teachers of English in the secondary schools, I applied for the scholarship to attend the Shakespeare’s summer course at the Globe theatre in London and also at Shakespeare’s birth place, that is, Stratford upon Avon, through the ESU, Mauritius. And suddenly, I found myself at the Globe theatre, London, among frescos and designs all pertaining to the great Bard of English Literature. Walking along the River Thames, on the Millennium bridge, admiring the cruiser boats down, fi lled with merry making tourists, gazing at the aeroplanes up, hovering

in the grey sky of wet London, I could not help saying thanks to all those who in their own way were instrumental towards organizing this summer course with 30 delegates from 30 different countries. For we were all speaking English, though with different accents and abilities.

Global understanding was tangible. “ There is no darkness”, said Shakespeare, “ there is only ignorance” . With fantastic teachers and overenthusiastic friends from around the world, all members of the ESU of their respective countries, we moved on the pavements of theatres, of galleries, of libraries, of institutes, of cathedrals, of parks, of gardens, of squares, of towers, of bridges, wherever some relic of Shakespeare could be seen. And we moved from darkness towards light. We had shed ignorance far behind. Global understanding was created.

At the start of one lecture, a brilliant teacher like no other stated : “ I am not interested in how you move, I am interested in what moves you.” I wanted to say we moved with the ESU, but what moved us now was Shakespeare. Entering my mindset, the teacher said: “ A touch of Shakespeare makes the world Kin.” And in great kinship, cross cultural identities merged into great friendship and the world became smaller.

At the grand dinner held in honour of the 30 delegates from the 30 different countries, at the Dartmouth House, headquarters of the ESU, in Central London, we were just mesmerized as scenes of Romeo and Juliet were performed from the dinner tables in 30 different languages, our mother tongues. What a feast! What better global understanding could there be? All in all, with Shakespeare as a “ Word smith”, we learned “ to fi ll the chalice of life” , to make “ inner grace audible” , to play “ the instrument of the soul”, to speak “ the language of the heart” , to breathe “ through theatre  and music” . Walking along the London bridge, the Millennium bridge and the Bankside alleys, I could only thank the ESU for their farsightedness and altruistic attitudes and activities to make the world a global village with recreational and educational aspects. Global understanding is surely achieved.

I am more than happy that I applied for this scholarship, and I made it happen all the way and hence have been instrumental in creating this global understanding through English. I pen these words here to thank the president and members of the ESU for having given me this opportunity to be part of this literary fair. I end here quoting Mother Teresa : “ There are no great acts, only small acts done with great love.