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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

Cycling teachers on mobile mission make UAE stop

Teachers Claire Le Hur and Stuart Block who are halfway through cycling from London to China via Africa to raise money for educational charities. Courtesy Claire Le Hur/Beyond the Bike
Teachers Claire Le Hur and Stuart Block who are halfway through cycling from London to China via Africa to raise money for educational charities. Courtesy Claire Le Hur/Beyond the Bike

ABU DHABI // Two British teachers who are on a global tour to highlight the production cycle of modern technology were in the capital to explain their mission.

Stuart Block and Claire Le Hur are travelling 10,000 kilometres by bicycle to trace the worldwide production of mobile phones, from where raw materials are mined in Africa, to factories in Asia and consumers in Europe.

Mr Block is travelling by tandem so he can pick up interested passengers along the way, while Ms Le Hur is on a bamboo bike.

Along the way, the two have stopped at schools to meet pupils and impart the economic, geographical and cultural lessons they have picked up on their journey.

They are also trying to develop teaching materials and raise funds for educational charities through their mission that is being chronicled on the website beyondthebike.org.

“The big thing is raising money – not only money, but awareness for education and the lack of education that so many people have,” said Ms Le Hur. “It actually makes us better at our jobs to be able to go back and teach people back in the UK, or wherever it is we end up.”

Last week, on a UAE stopover as they flew from South Africa to Singapore, the pair visited Cranleigh Abu Dhabi school and Dubai College.

“It’s about getting lots of different people to engage in what we are doing and bringing the world into different classrooms,” said Ms Le Hur, 34, a classics and languages teacher.

Their journey began in September in London and they cycled to Amsterdam. They then flew to Uganda and pedalled to South Africa, visiting mines and meeting park rangers en route.

They started the Asian leg of their trip last week and were expected to finish their journey in May or June in China.

Their accommodation has ranged from the homes of fellow teachers to camping on school grounds.

They often get tips on where to stay from pedestrians that Mr Block has picked up on his tandem. “To understand the human geography better you need to have proper conversations with people,” said 37-year-old economics teacher. “Often you learn quite a bit about what’s going on with prices and what the challenges are, what they think of their politicians or are their policies actually working on the ground. I’ve learnt a lot more about the countries through conversations.”

If there is one lesson both have taken away from their journey it is that the world is filled with kind and generous people.

“We have been overwhelmed by the hospitality, of people taking us in, rich people, poor people of all religions, all cultures, giving us food, giving us water and being interested in what we’re doing,” said Ms Le Hur.

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi headmaster Brendan Law said he hoped his pupils would be inspired by the travellers.

“The thing that I always love about this kind of talk is just purely inspiration,” said Mr Law. “It’s great to see children’s eyes light up at the possibilities that life can bring.”

rpennington@thenational.ae

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