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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 13:12 GMT
The calm after Sudan teddy storm
Gillian Gibbons
Foreign teachers hope to move on from the Gillian Gibbons row
Following the end of the Sudan teddy bear row with the release of UK teacher Gillian Gibbons, other foreign teachers in the country are breathing a sigh of relief and hoping to move on.

Tom Berry, from Buckinghamshire, arrived in Khartoum two months ago to teach humanities to primary schoolchildren at the International Standard English School (ISES).

He describes the quiet after the storm of "teddygate".

"We are not going to change our teaching methods. We have faith in the British government and hope that in the end, like in this case, common sense will prevail," he said.

Mr Berry says that for him the whole teddy row has felt somewhat unreal because it contrasts so sharply with his own personal experience of Sudan and its people.

He arrived in the country armed with a degree in history and geography and some knowledge of Arabic, which he hoped to improve on.

"I've had an amazing couple of months. Out here, in a country where tourism is non-apparent, people are very kind and hospitable.

"I arrived here not knowing anyone but it was impossible to walk down the street without someone offering to buy me lunch or look after me."

Apologies

For this reason, the last few days had felt so strange he could hardly believe it was real, he said.

"Me and my colleagues have felt weary about it all, and yet it's all been so surreal."

He says he has been approached by many Sudanese people who have apologised to him about the events.

I'm not going to change my syllabus or lesson plans. I've no desire to go home
Tom Berry
British teacher, Sudan
"They tell me they feel so embarrassed and ashamed about what's happened, I really feel for them."

He said that he believed that out of a country of about 35 million people, just a tiny minority of 400 protested and called for Mrs Gibbons to face tougher punishment.

"No-one else is really thinking like this minority," he said.

He believes the majority are "unbelievably horrified" by what happened and hope that they can now move on.

But he said the events had certainly got people talking.

"One or two are suggesting the Sudanese government has used the case of Gillian Gibbons as a way of to frighten off Westerners and their influence," he suggested.

'Thanks to God'

Mr Berry told us he was determined to stay in Khartoum and continue to enjoy himself.

"I have a one-year contract and I will continue to see it out, with the possibility to extend it. I'm more determined to stay than ever.

"I'm not going to change my syllabus or lesson plans. I've no desire to go home and know I've got a lot of support from other Sudanese people," he said.

He feels that the worst thing about the row is the possible effect on how the rest of the world views the Sudanese people.

"Sadly, I think it's tarnished the people's reputation - not the government or its administration."

But he pointed out how he did not think it would have a significant impact on the number of teachers wanting to work in Sudan.

"In all fairness, there wasn't a great rush of teachers. It's generally done by word of mouth and through friends of friends", he explained.

Foreign teachers and Sudanese alike are now breathing a deep sigh of relief.

Translating from Arabic, Mr Berry told us: "They're walking around saying, 'Great thanks to God,' and they're all very happy now".



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