Two north Belfast students have abandoned the luxuries of home to head to South Africa and a small rural town with the same name as their home city for a BBC programme.
George and Callum Sweetlove, from Belfast Boys’ Model, joined their parents George Senior and Julie, in the second of a two part BBC series called No Place Like Home.
They travelled to Belfast, South Africa to swap homes, jobs and schools with a counterpart family in the Mpumalanga range, and see what life has to offer.
The Sweetlove family from Ballysillan spent six days shadowing a South African family, undertaking their daily chores and activities with the aim of learning new skills and understanding their host family’s hopes and dreams.
They were welcomed to South Africa by the Mayor of Belfast and a number of other dignitaries and councillors.
Callum and George (Jr) attended local schools, one a private school which depended on fees paid by the pupils’ parents and the other a ‘farm’ school which accepted children from poorer backgrounds.
They interacted with the students and teachers, learning new skills and teaching techniques, while also gaining an insight into the distinct differences between the South African way of life and their Northern Irish upbringing.
In a bid to understand working life in South Africa, George (Sr) and Julie took jobs in the local coal mine, the area’s largest employer, and found that although the work was physically demanding, the local community were incredibly grateful to have these jobs as they were the best paid in the area.
Jim Keith, principal of Belfast Boys’ Model School, said: “Callum and George were delighted to be chosen to travel to Belfast, South Africa and on their return they shared many of their experiences with their fellow pupils.
“It was very exciting to hear their accounts of going to two very different schools and our pupils were thrilled to hear about the South African way of life, how the children were taught and of course the sports they played,” he added.
On their return home, the Sweetloves welcomed their host family from South Africa to a Northern Ireland covered in a blanket of snow, a distinct |difference from the sunny blue skies and dry red dirt of South Africa, before taking them on tours of Belfast’s famous sights, including the Falls and Shankill Roads.