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Words by Amillah Javed, photographs by Waleed Alrumaih

Burnage Media Arts College successfully hosted another Community Day on Friday, 28th June. Stalls were provided by Manchester Markets and Burnage Media Arts College staff, alongside stall holders from the local area who were present to sell a variety of products, including food, drinks, plants, crafts and games.
Nine brilliant Burnage boys from The Burnage Poets Society took part in MMU’s Mother Tongue Other Tongue Competition and took to the stage on the big day to perform their mother tongue/other tongue poems. Not only were these poems read out, they were rapped and sang to fellow class mates and other students who eagerly cheered them on.

Angela Pane has been teaching French at Burnage and Italian as enrichment, as well as helping the English as an Additional Language Department (EAL) in order to get the boys engaged with this poetry competition. She told me, “Some of the boys are embarrassed about speaking in their first language and they don’t really use it in school, even though this school is a multicultural school where 29 languages are spoken. I decided to work mainly with Bengali, Italian, Farsi, Czech and Portuguese native speakers.” Another reason why Angela decided to take part and help the boys in The Burnage Poets Society is because she loves poetry and has been writing poetry since childhood.
Most of the poems were love poems, so the students definitely managed to reveal their emotional side. Khaiber Sarwari, a talented year 11 student at BMAC, played the piano throughout the whole show and also performed a poem in Farsi towards the end. He said, “I am looking forward to our performances today because we have been working hard for this. This competition shows that we are still proud of our mother tongue and it gives us a great opportunity for it to be recognised and to speak in our first language, apart from English.” I was astonished to find out from him that he speaks six languages: English, Farsi, Pashto, Urdu, Turkish, Dari, and is currently learning French.  

EAL Teacher, Ms Temina Khan, assisted Angela and told me that BMAC is one of the first schools to introduce the International New Arrivals project (INA). This offers help and support to those who are learning English as a second language. New INA students, Miskat Rahman and Emmanuel Oyelami, worked together in order to perform their poem in Italian and English. Emmanuel said, “Our poem is a love poem where two people have departed and are trying to get back together again. I’m very nervous because this is my first time to perform on stage like this.”
Another impressive duo, Peter Gina and Martin Novak, worked together with one beatboxing while the other rapped in Czech. Martin sums up how he felt, “I feel sick, nervous and excited.”
Year 9 student, Mahbub Chowdhury, confidently performed a poem in Bengali in a triple act with Zeeshan Muddasar and Shuad Al Yunus, who translated the poem into English. Mahbub said, “This poem is about love and desire, where a pair of lovers struggle to come together because of certain forces stopping them to get together. The award winning film Titanic inspired millions and millions of people and we were amongst those people to get inspired. Therefore, we wrote this poem together based on the movie.” He further added, “I would like to thank my teacher because she has devoted her time and has helped us out greatly.”

Bernard Asuako, another student whose first language is Twi, told me, “I’m performing in English today; my poem is called Remember me and is about friendship and what you feel like after you leave your country. I was inspired to write this poem after thinking about the time when I left my country and the ones I love.”

Angela Pane summed up the day telling me: “I’m extremely happy with the boys today and the performances were the best part. They have put a lot of work into their performances and although this has been very difficult for them to dramatise their poetry and rap it out, overall they did a fantastic job. The boys have been great and have worked so hard with me. I know they have enjoyed using their first languages and this has been an amazing experience for them. I hope MMU continue to do competitions like this in the future and I would love to be part of them!”

Amillah Javed is currently studying English and Film at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is passionate about journalism and teaching and hopes to pursue a career in one of these fields. Amillah also has an interest in writing creatively and having work published. Follow her on Twitter @a_amillah 

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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