The President of
Burundi at Friends last week
THE President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza,
visited Friends' School last week during a four day visit to the
He learnt about the Northern Ireland peace
process and the role of church, community and civic society in
reconciliation and forgiveness. He also visited the Northern
Ireland Assembly, meeting First Minister Ian Paisley, had a walk
about in Belfast with the Lord Mayor, met with church leaders in
Armagh and was a guest at a reception hosted by the charity
Fields of Life.
The President was welcomed to Friends' by the
Principal, Elizabeth Dickson, and the Head Boy and Head
Girl, Chris Curry and Kerry Gilbert. Kerry greeted the President
and his ministers in Burundian, before the Friends' Traditional
Irish Folk Group played for those present.
A number of Friends' pupils came into school
on the last day of their Easter holidays to meet the President
and were joined by a group of Sixth Formers from Rathmore
Grammar School, and teacher Mrs Stephanie Murphy.
Sixth Form pupils Naomi McAteer and Adam
Wilson gave a presentation in French on Friends' School and
Michael Wilkinson and Colin Walker then spoke about tourism.
There was a joint presentation given by Sixth Formers from
Friends' School and Rathmore on their recent stay at Corrymeela
as part of the Schools' Community Relations Programme.
The President emphasised the role of
education and health care in underpinning the rebuilding of
Burundi after years of conflict. He told the young people that
education was the most important factor in building a better
future for everyone.
The President had the chance to talk with
pupils, many of them spoke to him in French, and he chatted
informally with them about his family and about his love of
The Friends Traditional Irish Folk
Group performing for the Burundian guests
The Principal of Friends Mrs
Elizabeth Dickson on the left and the President on
the right listen to some of the presentations by
Naomi McAteer said: "I enjoyed the
opportunity to meet with the President. Hearing his comments on
our school community and having the chance to interact with him
and his entourage was a memorable and eye opening experience
which I feel privileged to have had.'
The President also issued an invitation to the pupils from
Friends' and Rathmore to visit Burundi — emphasising how much
those from different nationalities could learn from each other.