UK School & College Weeks

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Bishop’s Blue Coat C of E Academy, Chester, July 2014

Reflections from students:
I came thinking it was going to be the same as last year, however it was different. The company we had was different and so was the weather and the people and activities we did. But it was possibly more amazing than last year. I’ve only been to Taize twice, but every time I do it gets better. Shanon, y11

My week was a wonderful experience. I have developed my inner spirituality as well as interpersonal relationships. For me, Taizé is an amazing community where all can gather as equal in Christ and develop a very different perspective of faith and a pilgrimage towards God. Meeting many interesting people was also a huge part of my experience. People who, like me, were developing themselves. Overall, Taizé has strengthened my desire to be a part of the building of a community of solidarity in some small way in my own life. Mottley

My week in Taizé was eventful. Experiencing new cultures and new people is something you can never do at home. When you get put in your groups you don’t know the people but when you talk about your opinions and experiences you get to know everyone. Being with people from different countries that speak different languages is a rare opportunity. Taizé brings different people together and removes stereotypes. The schedule you are given is something that gives you plenty of free time, team work and reflection time. Olivia, y10

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Bishop’s Blue Coat C of E Academy, Chester, July 2014

Taizé is a place I think everyone should experience whether they’re religious or not. There is something there for everyone. It is the perfect place to learn new languages and experience new cultures. It’s also great for aspiring musicians, as there are many opportunities to sing in your own language or another, but mainly Taizé is great for connecting with yourself or even God, and finding your spiritual side and that’s what I enjoyed most this year. Tori, y11

Report after the North Wales Schools pilgrimage, July 2013 []

Blackheath Bluecoat School, 2013

Initially, when I got to Taize, I loved the atmosphere; there were a lot of people. I was very excited as to see what the next 6 days would be like; we were given a warm welcome by one of the Brothers and we settled down. Then we went for breakfast and I was not happy with the food, and that made me question what the next few days would feel like.
But I was pleasantly surprised because subsequently everything fell into place and I blended into the flow of things, I made lots of friends from different countries and I loved the worship so much. I also joined the choir, which made me learn the songs better, and that made me make a lot more friends. I also helped serve food. This experience has been wonderful and I am definitely coming back at some point, maybe as a volunteer in the community or with my family. Eniola Fujah-Sanni (19)

My week at Taize was unforgettable, fantastic and unpredictable because I got to meet people from different countries and we were all together like a family and were nice to each other. Also I loved the Bible study because they explained better what they said in the Bible and I had friends from Germany, Ireland and Poland. I don’t know what to say, I am speechless because it was so good. Richard Olaniyi (15)

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St. Paul’s Catholic School, Milton Keynes

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Pupils from Blue Coat School, Coventry City College and Westwood Academy, comprising the Coventry Diocese Schools Pilgrimage

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Archbishop Tenison’s School, Oval, London

What it was like for me ...

Before I went to Taize, I was a little bit nervous and unsure about the experiences I would have and the people, as I did not know them very well. Yet, by the second day, I realised how friendly and welcoming everyone was that we met. It was an amazing week, where I learnt a lot about my faith as well as myself as a person. I was reluctant at first to take part in some of the suggested activities such as the silent time but after taking a few chances, I realised how amazing these new experiences were!
We met so many awesome people from lots of different countries and it was overwhelming to see how easy it was to communicate despite our different languages.
The music in the church was not at all as boring as I expected but really opened up a new way to pray.
Socially, it was great fun to meet so many new people and hangout with them at the Oyak bar in the evenings! It was awesome!
Sinead (17)
St Paul’s Catholic School, Milton Keynes
The silence in prayer was the part of Taize that I was most doubtful about enjoying and I almost didn’t go because of it! I mean being quiet and going to church three times a day is no fun is it? But being in a room with 4000 people is an incredible experience and then when you manage to get all those people silent as well, that really is amazing. The silence unites people in a way that language can’t.
The quiet is also brilliant because when at home in the ‘real world’ where you have TV, internet and iPods, true silence is very hard to come by but it’s such a central part of the time Taize that it teaches you how useful it actually is. It gives you a chance to think about things that you might not do normally because things are too chaotic and loud and so you begin to understand yourself much better which is essential to having a happy life.
Chris Roberts (16)
Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales High School
The simplicity of Taize life is very fascinating, despite all the awkward moments within your newly appointed group but with time we all become great friends even though we are all from different countries.
It is amazing how people’s personality suddenly change when you enter the Church, everyone takes the services seriously and this is what makes the prayer so emotional, and you feel connected to God in many ways, more than you would at home!
Oyak is an extreme comparison to the services, this is an experience where people truly enjoy themselves amongst other countries also familarise themselves in foreign music.
Lucy Willson (16)
Blue Coat School, Coventry
Life at Taizé flows like a river. The peace at the heart of the worship extends out into the regular life on site, and this means that everyone is much more happy, allowing many nationalities to walk together.
Sam Johansen (16)
Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales High School

Article by Joanna, Ysgol Dinas Bran, Wrexham

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Pupils of Bishop of Llandaff High School tell the Governing Body of the Church in Wales about their week in Taizé

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Sam (16, pictured) found a new understanding of the value of silence. Ellie (15): “Taizé wanted you to be who you are, not change what you are.” Emily (16): “I felt I could be the person God made me to be (...) I am truly open to receive God in silence.”

From Chatsmore Catholic High School, Worthing


Group from St Michael and All Angels Academy, Camberwell + St Saviour and St Olave’s School, Southwark

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from the school newsletter:
A group of 40 students and 6 staff from St Michael and All Angels Academy and St Saviour’s & St Olave’s School travelled together to France for a week from 7-15 July. The destination was Taizé, a Christian community in the middle of France that offers hospitality to young people and adults from all over the world and invites people to a deeper, simpler and more spiritual way of living. We were together with more than 3,000 other young people in the small village of Taizé. We were blessed with beautiful weather.

The days were structured with services, meals, small group meetings and social time. The young people, even though hard to be mobilised at times – (especially early in the morning!), hugely profited from this structure and as the week went by took more and more responsibility for what they wanted to get out of the experience. As we were part of a community we were also asked to volunteer and help with cleaning. The students rose beautifully to this challenge.

Some quotes from our students:
‘I now know how to say hello in different languages’, ‘I have made new friends’, ‘there are different ways of worshipping God’, ‘the silence in church helped me to reflect on my life’,’ everyone was so friendly’, ‘I am now more open to God’,’ I would have liked to stay longer’, ‘the singing helped me to feel more calm and peaceful’.

We asked the students what they would change about Taizé and most of them said, ‘the food’, which indeed was very simple but contained all that we need to live a good and healthy life. Sometimes we have to experience something different in order to appreciate what we take for granted in our lives. We thank God that we had a safe journey there and back and that all of us came home feeling inspired and enriched by this wonderful pilgrimage to Taizé.

The Revd. Henriette Howarth

A chaplain reports ...

The boys who went on the schools trip last year took a slot in one of the Friday afternoon 6th form enrichment sessions a few weeks ago, to talk about their experience and to lead Bible studies in the style of Taizé. It was extraordinary. The RE teacher gave a short introduction and then the five boys each led a different group of eight other students, having chosen Matthew 25, the sheep and the goats, as their topic.

As chaplain, I didn’t have to do anything: it was all happening from them. For three quarters of an hour, every member of our (small) 6th form was engaging fully in a shared Bible study.

I think being in the groups at Taizé last year must have taught them a lot because they all facilitated their groups brilliantly (listening carefully to people, opening out discussions not shutting them down etc.). As a chaplain, I pretty much thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was beautiful Christian education in action, and led from below not from above.

Off the back of that session (yes, off the back of a well-led bible study!?!) we have loads of interest from the 6th formers for next year’s schools week.

Robert Stanier, Chaplain of Archbishop Tenison’s School, Oval, London, December 2012

Teenagers from Hexham (Northumberland) produced this colourful magazine

Their stay was full of experiences, new discoveries and thoughtfulness.

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Printed from: - 19 June 2021
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