Brrrrrr! Christmas is over but unfortunately winter is still going. As the weather gets colder we are reminded of Loudmouth’s international trips to Norway, Sweden, Estonia… always the cold countries for some reason - still waiting on the Bahamas!
For the last three years we have had the pleasure of performing in Switzerland at the International School of Geneva. This year, William and Ellie (otherwise known as team Wellie) delivered our domestic abuse programme ‘Safe and Sound’ to their students years 9-11.
“We were so excited to go out to Geneva to perform one of our favourite Loudmouth programmes. Neither of us had ever been to Switzerland before and it’s always nice to be flown out to a beautiful European city as part of your job! But what was even more exciting was the chance to work with a group of young people from a variety of different countries and cultures.
Ironically - not a lot of the young people we met were actually Swiss, in fact a fair few of them were British! We also met young people from France, Norway, Russia, the Netherlands, America… the list goes on. International schools are always exciting environments to work in because they bring together many different cultures, and therefore many different ideas and attitudes.
Sex and relationship education can be a controversial topic, and the standards and expectations of what should/should not be taught varies wildly from country to country. In most of our sessions in the UK, we sit down with the young people and we already have in our head a fairly clear idea of what they will already have been taught. But when working in international schools, it’s a bit more like a lucky dip!
Our aim is always to give young people a voice- and what a variety of voices we had in these sessions. With so many different nationalities in one room, we of course came across a range of different attitudes to relationships, gender roles and sexuality, but it was really exciting to watch these young people voice these attitudes to each other and explore them as a group.
And of course, in many ways it was just like any other session. What’s nice about our job is that, more often than not, teenagers are hungry to talk about sex and relationships, and love having the chance to discuss it openly with each other. From our point of view, the experience was a great reminder of how important sex and relationship education is. No matter where a child is from or what kind of background they have respect within relationships is a universal issue.
It was also lovely for us to meet the staff at the International School of Geneva - some of whom Loudmouth have been building a relationship with for ten years! It’s a massive compliment to us that they invite us to travel so far to deliver our work, and also gives testimony to how invested they are in the emotional wellbeing of their young people.
And in case you were worried about us working too hard - don’t be. We of course took the chance to see some sights - and eat some swiss chocolate! It really did live up to its reputation. Unfortunately our budget didn’t quite stretch far enough for a swiss watch…
And before we knew it, we were back in Blighty! We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to spread Loudmouth’s values internationally, and help even more young people understand the part they can play in developing healthy, happy, safe relationships.