Beginnings

 

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, it changed my perspective. Even though I had raised two wonderful daughters, was in a successful marriage of 40 years, and had been a psychoanalyst for over 30 years treating individuals, couples and groups in San Francisco, I still had plenty of questions.

I began to ask myself, ‘If I die, what regrets will I have?

I certainly had more energy and capacity. I wanted to do more. It was during a bucket-list trip to South Africa in 2005 that my husband, Larry, and I witnessed firsthand the country’s promise of a post-apartheid democracy. We saw Nelson Mandela’s prison cell. We saw the mat on the floor where he spent 26 years. The fact that Mandela didn’t get out of prison and say, “Let’s kill every person who put us in here” was miraculous. We wanted to give back to a country where this could happen.

Asking everyone we met in South Africa about the greatest challenges the country now faced, all said the same thing: Lack of good public education and a dire shortage of teachers.

When we first started, the idea was to fund one teacher to work in South Africa. That would be our contribution. But after much research, we simply couldn’t find an organization in the United States—aside from the Peace Corps—who funded volunteers to Africa. We’d have to do it ourselves.

So in 2007, we started Teach With Africa, a non-profit organization empowering students and teachers by bringing educators to Africa to teach and learn. In three years, Teach With Africa has brought 60 educators to South Africa to teach classes, tutor in core academic subjects and implement student workshops designed to give learners quality time with experienced educators.

For the teachers and their students, the experience has been transformative. By bringing lessons back to their U.S. classrooms upon returning, these educators benefit from a reciprocal exchange of teaching and learning.

After seeing Teach With Africa blossom and grow at a wildfire pace, in both South Africa and the U.S., we’re constantly looking forward. When you meet these students in South Africa, you can’t imagine not doing everything in your power to improve their lives in whatever way you can.

I wake up every morning excited about the boundless opportunity ahead. I hope you’ll join us!

Marjorie Schlenoff
Teach With Africa Founder